Joshua ‘could feature on undercard’ in embarrassing step-down for next fight

Anthony Joshua: I have been carrying heavyweight boxing

Anthony Joshua is set to return to the ring in December as negotiations for his blockbuster showdown with Deontay Wilder continue to stall. The Watford powerhouse will take a stay-busy fight in the interim which could reportedly end up on an undercard at the back end of the year.

According to the Sun, AJ’s next fight may be included on the Chris Eubank Jr vs Conor Benn bill which is being targeted for December 23 in Abu Dhabi. Hearn has previously mentioned that Joshua could fight on the night touted for Eubank and Benn’s long-awaited clash but didn’t explicitly state that he would feature on the same card.

That being said, it is unlikely Matchroom Boxing would stage two of their biggest stars on separate shows on the same night. Joshua hasn’t fought on an undercard in eight years.

The last time he did, AJ took on durable road warrior Kevin Johnson at the O2 Arena, London in an event topped by Kell Brook vs Frankie Gavin back in May 2015. Fans will be hoping Joshua is matched up in a more competitive fight when he steps between the ropes in December. 

Another date that has been floated around by Hearn is December 17 at Wembley Arena. AJ has become accustomed to performing in front of packed-out stadiums when he fights on British soil and so the 10,000-seater is something of a step down from what he is used to.

But the 34-year-old will soon be back in another big stadium extravaganza when fans are finally treated to the sizzling Saudi showdown with Wilder. The bout was recently pushed back to next year after Hearn claimed it was “nailed on” for 2023.

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The Matchroom Boxing chief has set March or April of 2024 as a more realistic timeframe for the fight due to negotiation issues. “I think the Wilder fight, realistically, is not going to happen until March or April, at the latest. But he wants to fight,” Hearn told iFL TV. “He wants to go back to camp and asked us to try and make him a fight for December; whether that spills into January, we’ll see.”

DAZN’s Ade Oladipo recently revealed that Joshua has travelled to Derrick James’ gym in Dallas to begin camp for his next fight. No opponent has been disclosed as of yet although it is unlikely to be a particularly risky fight given that the Wilder bout will surely be stripped off the table in the event of a loss.

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