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Anthony Joshua could box on Chris Eubank Jr vs Conor Benn card in December

Anthony Joshua and Eddie Hearn. Photo credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

Former two-time unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 26-3 (23) could return in a stay-busy co-feature bout later this year as he waits to sign a deal to face former WBC champion Deontay Wilder 43-2-1 (42) next year.

Terms for the Joshua v Wilder fight were already agreed to before Saudi Arabian financial backers Skill Challenge Entertainment baulked at the fight.

That has left Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn with little option but to shop the fight out to the highest bidder with a view to it taking place inn the first quarter of 2024.

The other issue Hearn has on his hands is how does he keep the 33-year-old Joshua active? One idea that Hearn is considering is putting Joshua on the same card as the proposed Conor Benn vs Chris Eubank Jr fight that he is trying to get squared away for December.

The date he is looking at is December 23, the same date that is being discussed for the four-belt heavyweight unification bout between Oleksandr Usyk 21-0 (14) and Tyson Fury 33-0-1 (24).

“December 2nd is a fantastic card that we’re announcing on Saturday night for Britain and 23rd is our date for Benn-Eubank. And I truly believe that fight will get made for that date,” Matchroom Boxing boss Hearn said to The Sun.

“Look if we get the Eubank fight made, we will go December 23rd. Because we will have to announce that in the next two weeks. I don’t know whether [Fury-Usyk is] going to go December 23rd, maybe there’s some conversations with them before we announce our fight.

“But that’s our date and whilst the other fight is not announced there’s a good chance we’ll go straight up and announce. But we’ll have to see. Obviously, we don’t want to go on the same night, it doesn’t make sense for either fight. But we’ll see.”

While the Joshua vs Wilder bout appears dead in the water for Saudi Arabia, Hearn is confident there are other countries willing to pick up the tab to host the fight.

“That fight, in my opinion, will 100 percent happen in the first half of next year, maybe even in the first quarter,” Hearn said.

“I can’t tell you any more than I’m talking to [Wilder’s manager] Shelly Finkel and we’ve made it crystal clear, as they have to us, we want this fight.

“We’re talking about Vegas, we’re talking about Wembley and we appreciate the money might not be completely the same as what we’ve been offered by Saudi Arabia.

“And money’s always important but I think both guys actually genuinely want the fight and when you get fights like Fury-Usyk made it does give everybody a little nudge to say, ‘Let’s make ours now.’ And there’s a definite feeling from their team and ours to get that fight over the line.”