British promoter Eddie Hearn is predicting a tough fight for his heavyweight ticket seller Anthony Joshua 21-0 (20) when the unified champion takes on WBA mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin 34-1 (24) at Wembley Stadium in London on September 22.
“I know there’s a lot of talk about [Deontay] Wilder but this is the toughest fight of Anthony Joshua’s career,” the Matchroom Boxing boss told iFL TV. “This is the sixth defence of his world heavyweight title, it’s an incredible achievement.”
Hearn was referring to the IBF strap that the 28-year-old won from American southpaw Charles Martin in April 2016 after Tyson Fury was stripped of the belt by the New Jersey-based sanctioning body in December the previous year for pursuing a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko rather than facing their mandatory contender Vyacheslav Glazkov. Martin would stop Glazkov in three rounds to win the IBF world title in January 2016 before losing in two to Joshua three months later.
Since then, Joshua has won the WBA world title by TKO11 against Klitschko in April last year and added the WBO belt to his collection with his unanimous decision win over New Zealand’s Joseph Parker in March this year.
The last remaining major title is the WBC strap in possession of undefeated American knockout artist Wilder 40-0 (39).
“This is all about unifying and becoming the undisputed champ,” Hearn continued. “He wants to walk through Povetkin and then smash Wilder to smithereens.”
Negotiations to match Joshua with Wilder in a heavyweight unification bout for all the titles fell apart last month with both sides pointing the finger of blame at the other.
If Joshua gets past former world tile challenger Povetkin of Russia, Hearn hinted that their next fight may be a rematch with Dillian Whyte 23-1 (17) if the Brixton “Body Snatcher” defeats Parker 24-1 (18) at London’s O2 Arena on July 28.
“We won’t be improving the Wilder offer. If Whyte beats Parker and Wilder doesn’t want Joshua, then we’ll just do Joshua-Whyte,” said Hearn.
“But Joshua has got a tough fight in Povetkin and we can’t look too far past that.”