Eddie Hearn has said his ‘smart plan’ for Anthony Joshua’s comeback is not a rebuilding, rather a gaining of momentum.
The former unified heavyweight champion has suffered two losses in his last two fights, both to Oleksandr Usyk. As Usyk moves forward in an attempt to become undisputed, Joshua is out of the title picture for the first time in seven years.
The Watford man, who is one of the biggest ticket sellers in the sport, now must assume the role of challenger and stay active until another shot at the belts comes around.
Hearn, ‘AJ’s longterm promoter, laid out the plan for DAZN, culminating in a ‘mega fight’ towards the end of the year.
“The plan now is to rebuild him to become a three-time world heavyweight champion, and the trainer will want to take the appropriate steps to do that.”
“It’s all very well being brave and listening to Twitter, and going out there and fighting Deontay Wilder … but there has to be a plan, a smart plan. And the smart plan is he wants to return against a top 15 guy – a credible fight.
Then move forward in the summer with probably Dillian Whyte, and then move forward against I guess Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury, into a mega fight in the autumn of 2023.”
“I truly believe Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury are nailed on for 2023. They have to be.”
Hearn said that phase one of ‘AJ’s return looks to be set for the first week of April. Likely opponents include the likes of Otto Wallin, Zhang Zhilei, and Dempsey McKean.
If Joshua comes through as expected, the Dillian Whyte bout shouldn’t be a hard one to make given both fighters’ promotional allegiances and desire for a rematch. It would likely land in a UK stadium.
Finally, though, stage three is where things may get more complicated. Despite all of the positive news surrounding communication with Deontay Wilder’s team, the fight has historically been cursed – as has one with Tyson Fury.
That final fight of 2023 all depends on what happens in the rest of the division while Joshua climbs the ladder once more. In the mean time, he is still to announce a new trainer for his return.