Promoter Eddie Hearn says there’s a new opponent in the running to face Anthony Joshua following lengthy talks for a Deontay Wilder fight.
After an offer to stage the fight in Saudi Arabia was taken off the table, Hearn has remained adamant that the team behind Joshua are still doing all they can to make the match-up against the hard-hitting American heavyweight.
Having said that, another fight signed for Saudi may have changed things.
Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk recently announced that they will be putting their belts on the line in an undisputed event that could take place as early as December 23.
With that news, the IBF has ruled that the winner must immediately face its mandatory challenger, Filip Hrgovic. Because of the reports of a rematch clause for the loser in the Fury-Usyk bout, a fight against the Croatian is unlikely to take place.
In that case, the belt will become vacant and Hrgovic will fight the next top contender for it – currently Joshua at number three. Hearn told Boxing Social that it ‘changes things’ for his charge.
“The news yesterday from the IBF changes things a little bit in the respect that basically the winner of Fury-Usyk has to fight Filip Hrgovic or they’ll be stripped, and they’re not going to.”
“That’s the fight. And I believe that fight will happen potentially for the world title. And if it does, we have to look at that. We got the Wilder fight. There’s a lot to think about, but that news certainly changes things. The goal is to become a three-time world champion and that would allow us to do that.”
Asked to weigh up the benefits of each potential match-up, the promoter seemed to lean towards Hrgovic despite it being a lesser spectacle.
“The Wilder fight is much bigger, but the Hrgovic fight comes with a world title. That will always take priority. But we’ll have to see what plays out. Again, we’re only hearing that it’s a two-way rematch in Usyk-Fury, which is disappointing, but we’ll see.”
Otto Wallin recently beat Murat Gassiev in an eliminator for the IBF’s top spot behind Hrgovic, and the Swedish southpaw will go ahead of Joshua in the next rankings update.
Whether or not Hearn can organise a fight with Hrgovic – who he co-promotes alongside Wasserman Boxing – in the meantime remains to be seen.