At this stage in the year, it was expected that a fight between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder would be announced.
The two former wold champions have been in productive talks, and were entertaining offers from Saudi Arabia via Skill Challenge Entertainment – one of which was believed to have been agreed.
A shift in the boxing landscape in Saudi means any numbers promised are now off the table, and both men face the decision as to wait it out or stay busy.
Wilder may need that more than Joshua, having not been in the ring for a full year.
The Brit has fought twice in 2023 – a decision win over Jermaine Franklin and a KO over Robert Helenius, both under the guidance of new trainer, Derrick James.
If he is to take a fight in between now and Wilder, the date would fall within December. Promoter Eddie Hearn has revealed that he could end up on the same card as a rescheduled Conor Benn – Chris Eubank Jr bout.
“He could go on December 23 maybe even as well. December 2nd is a fantastic card that we’re announcing on Saturday night for Britain, and 23rd is our date for Benn-Eubank. I truly believe that fight will get made for that date.”
Should Benn’s troubles with the British Boxing Board of Control and the UK Anti-Doping Agency not be resolved to the point that he can fight in his home country, Matchroom are expected to target Abu Dhabi for the event.
No opponent has been floated for Joshua, and that particular discussion will differ depending on if he finds himself in the main event or on the undercard.
For now, Hearn’s goal is to get the Wilder fight over the line. Should that not be realistic until early 2024, he risks not delivering on Anthony Joshua’s desire to compete three times in 2023.