Barry Hearn, the man who started Matchroom Sport, has commented on the return of the promotional company’s heavyweight star, Anthony Joshua.
Over the last two years, Joshua has fought only twice – and he tasted defeat both times at the hands of the current world champion, Oleksandr Usyk.
Whilst the losses to such an elite opponent shouldn’t bring about retirement talk, when they’re paired with his upset defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr, it really is make or break time for the Watford man if he wants to remain in the mix at the very top of the division.
Hearn – whose son, Eddie, handles the boxing promotion nowadays – told Sky Sports that ‘AJ’ can’t afford anything but wins in 2023.
“He is at a crossroads in his career. He can’t afford another loss.”
So what potential paths lie in front of the former champion? According the Hearn Sr, he has a few options – although we know that some are much more likely than others, especially for his ring return.
“I think Dillian [Whyte] is on the list. There’s a few other names – Deontay Wilder might be there, Otto Wallin. It’s his call.
The fight we all want to see eventually is AJ against Fury. You’ll get stories – Tyson will say the fight is never going to happen, Joshua will say he’d rather fight Dillian White. Forget all of that.
This fight has to happen, and I think it does happen at the tail-end of 2023, for all the marbles.”
Fans have seen two sets of very public negotiations fall through for a Tyson Fury versus Joshua fight, so for many it’s hard to believe that it does happen this coming year.
The same thing has happened with Joshua and Deontay Wilder in the past, although now that there are no belts involved that one does seem a bit more likely.
Returning to the here and now, we’re expecting an announcement on ‘AJ’s opponent before the end of the year. Currently, the most likely names are Otto Wallin and Dillian Whyte, with a slight lean towards the former if the rumours of London’s O2 Arena being the venue for March or April.