By Jake Tiernan: Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn says Anthony Joshua could be added to the Conor Benn vs. Chris Eubank Jr. card on December 23rd to help sharpen AJ for his mega-fight against Deontay Wilder in the first quarter of 2024.
Hearn isn’t saying who the opponent will be for the two-time heavyweight champion Joshua( 26-3, 23 KOs) on December 23, but it’s believed by some that it will be fringe contender fringe contender Agit Kabayel.
The boxing public would like to see Joshua fight Zhilei Zhang, as that would be a massive contest that would not only help AJ prepare for the Wilder fight but it would also create massive interest.
Hearn obviously doesn’t want to take any chances with Joshua by putting him in with ‘Big Bang’ and watching him get obliterated by the powerful knockout artist.
At this point in Joshua’s career, his popularity is still high because of what he did in the first six years in the game from 2013 to 2019, but he’s looked like a mental & physical wreck since being knocked out by AndyRuiz four years ago in New York.
The way Joshua has performed since 2019, Zhang would make easy work of him, finishing off his career as one of the major players in the heavyweight division.
Kabayel (23-0,15 KOs) has been fighting mostly no-name opposition during his career, which has helped him to assemble an unbeaten record. The best name on Kabayel’s resume is journeyman Dereck Chisora, an old guy with 13 losses.
Placing Joshua on the Benn-Eubank Jr. card would ensure the success of the event, especially if the Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk fight takes place on that date.
Joshua could fight on December 23
“He [Joshua] could go in December, but that fight will happen in the first half of next year, maybe in the first quarter,” said Eddie Hearn to the Boxing News channel about when Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder will take place.
“It could go on December 23 as well,” said Hearn about Joshua’s next fight. December 23rd is our date for Benn-Eubank. I truly believe that fight will get made on that date.
Is Joshua capable of beating top-tier opposition?
“It’ll be someone in the top 15,” said Hearn about Joshua’s next opponent in December. “I haven’t been in negotiations with any fighters. I think ticking over is a bit harsh because they’re all dangerous fights,” said Hearn about AJ’s stay-busy fight in December to keep him sharp for the Deontay Wilder match in the first quarter of 2024.
“It’s certainly going to be a smaller fight than Wilder, but we’ve got to decide whether we’re going to go out in December or not.
“I’ve been talking to [Wilder’s manager] Shelly Finkel, and we’ve made it crystal clear, as they have with us, that we want this fight. We’re talking about Wembley [Stadium], we’re talking about Vegas,” Hearn said.
AJ’s money won’t be the same without the Saudis
“We appreciate that the money might not be completely the same as from Saudi Arabia, and money is always important, but both guys generally want the fight,” said Hearn.
Have the Saudis lost interest in Joshua?
“When you get fights like Fury-Usyk made, it gives everybody a little nudge as if to say, ‘Let’s make it happen for ours now, and a definite feeling between their team and ours to get that fight over the line,” said Hearn.
“Definitely ticking over. AJ respects Ben Davison a lot. I just feel like with the uncertainty about knowing about the December date, we just don’t know if he’s [Joshua]going to fight in December, and if he is going to fight, he didn’t want to be sitting around for two or three weeks just not boxing.
“So, he’s gone into Ben’s gym, and obviously, they’ve got a great team of fighters, some of whom he knows as well. He’s just sharpening the tools before he returns to Derrick James.