Matchroom Sports boss Eddie Hearn has revealed his latest thoughts on WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s upcoming fight in April and who he would prefer as his opponent.
AJ has taken a rare back seat in the heavyweight equation as of late thanks to last Saturday’s controversial split draw battle between lineal champion Tyson Fury and WBC head honcho Deontay Wilder.
Fury defied his many doubters to give the powerful American the toughest night of his 40-fight career, and swathes of fans and pundits believe the former unified champion deserved more than the draw that was given to him, despite his kissing the canvas twice.
A combination of factors led to Fury both being stripped of and relinquishing the titles he had taken from the grasp of Ukranian legend Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015.
A failed drugs test and a public battle with depression on the part of Fury made the IBF and WBA belts available.
Joshua soon defeated American Charles Martin and the aforementioned Klitschko to pick up the two vacant belts, before winning the WBO title on his own terms by beating Kiwi Joseph Parker in March this year.
That Joshua won the belts while they were not attached to a champion leads Hearn to reason that AJ would pick Fury as his April opponent over Wilder should he have the choice.
"You know what? If you put Fury and Wilder up there and asked Joshua: 'who do you want?' I believe he'd choose Fury," Hearn told iFL TV.
"Fury won the belts, and then Josh (Anthony Joshua) picked them up...Fury lost those belts himself, they didn’t evaporate.
"Somebody was going to win those belts, and it was AJ.
"But there’s always going to be that thing where people say, ‘yeah but Fury beat Klitschko first’. Josh feels like he wants to beat Fury because he beat Klitschko."
Hearn also made it quite clear who he felt won the Fury/Wilder fight.
Explaining how Joshua’s thought process might work in light of last Saturday’s battle, Hearn said:
"Maybe Josh feels like 'I wanna beat Fury, because he beat Klitschko and he beat Wilder'."
Like many, Hearn feels that Fury did enough to relieve Wilder of the WBC belt, and despite the official result, Fury was the real winner in the eyes of many.
However, the Matchroom boss insists he is in no way discounting the possibility that Joshua will face Wilder first, even if Fury is the ultimate goal.
"Could we fight Wilder next? Yes, 100%. The priority is the belt. But that priority is narrowing in terms of the Fury option.
"But I just think that if this undisputed fight doesn’t happen next, I’m not sure it’ll ever happen."
The WBC announced yesterday that they had voted to sanction an immediate rematch between Wilder and Fury, and if the bout is arranged, Joshua may yet again have to take a back-seat and watch his two biggest rivals hog the limelight once more.
Should Wilder and Fury agree to meet again in the ring straight away, Joshua’s next opponent will likely be the winner of the Whyte/Chisora re-match or against dangerous Matchroom Sports stablemate Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller.
Neither fight would overshadow a Fury/Wilder rematch but would allow Joshua to tick along and keep his name in the public eye while he waits for his biggest adversaries to conclude their business.