Barry Hearn has cast doubt on Anthony Joshua’s recently announced fight timeline for 2023.
Following two consecutive defeats to Oleksandr Usyk – losing his unified world titles in the process – Joshua took himself to Texas to link up with renowned trainer, Derrick James.
The pair’s first outing together was a unanimous decision victory over Jermaine Franklin, a performance which left fans and pundits imploring ‘AJ’ to fight again as soon as possible to build some momentum.
That looked to be the plan, with Dillian Whyte a frontrunner for a July bout, until Joshua announced on social media that he wouldn’t be fighting again until December. He said that it was ‘not ideal.’
Fans have speculated as to the reasoning, perhaps an injury, a trainer conflict or the promise of a big winter fight. Barry Hearn of Matchroom, Joshua’s promotional company, has other ideas though.
Hearn – whose son, Eddie, has guided AJ’s career since he turned pro – told JOE that their man may have made the timeline announcement hastily.
“Well, firstly, I think there’s been a few misquotes about he’s not boxing till December. He’s thinking about not boxing till December.
Sometimes – and I love Anthony – but, he’s on holiday at the moment, he’s having a good time, he spends his life in training camps. When you’re having a good time, you like to carry on having a good time. But I know Anthony a bit better than that. So I wouldn’t be 100% surprised to see a u-turn on that.”
Joshua has been in Dubai, linking up with fellow fighters Badou Jack and Amir Khan on his travels.
His pictures from the break fuelled rumours that the Middle East were interested in staging a heavyweight tournament later in the year that would feature him alongside Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk.
Hearn went on to say that there was work to be done.
“I don’t think it was the best Anthony Joshua that I’ve seen, by a long way, and I think there are improvements and obviously some big mental issues to get over which we all know.
We ask ourselves now – are we with him on his journey? Absolutely yes.”