Promoter Eddie Hearn has revealed the shortlist of names to face unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 22-0 (21) at Wembley Stadium in London next April.
The Matchroom Boxing boss says the final decision will hinge on the result of the WBC heavyweight title fight between champion Deontay Wilder 40-0 (39) and challenger Tyson Fury 27-0 (19) at Los Angeles’ Staples Center on December 1.
“It depends on the Wilder fight really,” Hearn said to Sky Sports. “I think if the Wilder fight doesn’t happen, then we could go [Dillian] Whyte, if he beats [Dereck] Chisora, and then [Oleksandr] Usyk after that, but a lot depends on what Usyk wants to do, and whether he feels like he’s ready.”
Dillian Whyte 24-1 (17) will face Dereck ‘War’ Chisora 29-8 (21) at London’s O2 Arena on December 22 in a rematch of their 12-round split decision won by ‘The Body Snatcher’ two years ago.
Undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk 16-0 (12) defended his WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO 200-pound titles against Liverpool’s Tony ‘Bomber’ Bellew 30-3-1 (20) with an impressive eighth round TKO at Manchester Arena on Saturday.
But Hearn says the Ukrainian southpaw would have a difficult time against the unbeaten Briton.
“I think the AJ fight is a very, very, very tough fight for Usyk,” Hearn stated. “AJ is very fast, and he’s very mobile, and I think Usyk will do better against slower heavyweights, who aren’t as mobile.
“But it’s going to end up being a monster fight at some point.”
The 29-year-old Joshua, who successfully defended his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles with an eighth round TKO of Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin 34-2 (24) at Wembley Stadium in September, has shown interest in facing Usyk.
“I think he’s intrigued by Usyk. I think he would like to fight Usyk, I think he would like to fight everybody who he views as a top-level fighter,” continued Hearn.
“The challenge for Usyk is the size. It’s going to be very difficult for anybody to out-skill him, but [Evander] Holyfield did it, but he did it actually with toughness, which is even harder than to do it with skill.
“But I think if Usyk shows what he will show at heavyweight, and if he puts himself in a position, AJ will have no problem fighting him.
“That could end up being a huge, huge fight, but I think Usyk in the post-fight interview was very sensible, and said this division is not a joke.
“I’m not just diving in, I need to make sure that I prepare properly for challenges like that. I see him having two fights probably before he’s ready for Joshua at heavyweight.”