Joshua could return in December according to Hearn if Wilder fight gets pushed back

According to Eddie Hearn, former unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua could return to action in December if there are further delays in negotiations between Joshua and Deontay Wilder.

Joshua is highly speculated and in discussions with former WBC world heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder, with Skill Challenge Entertainment of Saudi Arabia, seeking to promote and host the contest in Saudi Arabia in early 2024.

However, despite all parties being in discussions and negotiations, a deal has yet to be agreed upon at time of writing. If negotiations become even more protracted and dates for the encounter keep being pushed back. In that case, Hearn has indicated that he will be looking at securing a ring return for Joshua in December.

"Talks are ongoing. We are still in the same position of a January fight. If we don't conclude that fight and they talk about (Skill Challenge Entertainment) moving it to February or March, we will probably fight in December. Wilder is talking about fighting in October, but it's already September now," Hearn told IFL TV.

"He will wait to fight Wilder in January. He's training now. He wants to fight in December. If they turned around and said, 'let's do the Wilder fight in December, ' he'd do it. But everybody is talking like it's happening, but until it's happening, it ain't on. Until it's on, we'll keep our options open for December. Ideally, we'd like to go straight into the Wilder fight."

Joshua, in 2023 has been on the comeback trail following back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk in 2021 & 2022 respectively, losing his unified titles and unsuccessfully challenging for the titles.

Joshua has since linked up with trainer Derrick James, returning to the ring in April for the first time since his defeats to Usyk. Joshua defeated Jermaine Franklin on points before returning in August, defeating Robert Helenius by knockout in seven rounds.

If Joshua is to return in December, Hearn suggested Joshua will face an opponent of the same calibre as Helenius or Dillian Whyte. Whyte was initially slated to face Joshua last month but failed a VADA administered Anti-Doping test in the lead-up to the contest with Joshua.

"I think you're going to end up seeing the best of him in the bigger fights. The reality is if he did have another fight, it would be on the level of Dillian, Helenius... those kinds of levels. Would it get the best out of him? I don't think it wouldn't be beneficial [to have a third fight in 2023], but I don't think it would change the result of the Wilder fight," Hearn concluded.