Anthony Joshua has been backed to replace Oleksandr Usyk in a sensational change of opponents if Tyson Fury can’t make a deal for an undisputed world title fight.
Joshua will return to the ring against Jermaine Franklin on April 1 at The O2 arena, while Fury’s promoters have set April 29 as the date for their bout with Usyk, which could land at Wembley Stadium.
And promoter Eddie Hearn has teased that the two-time former heavyweight champion could step in if a deal can’t be reached with Usyk.
Talks appear to have hit a snag between the two heavyweight champions, with promoters set for crunch talks this evening at Arsenal’s match with Manchester City in London.
Deontay Wilder has been touted as a possible opponent for an outlandish fourth fight despite going 0-2-1 in the pair’s trilogy, and Hearn has said that Joshua could be the replacement as well.
“I have no idea whether Fury-Usyk is going to happen,” Hearn told IFL TV. “I can give you my opinion, but I’m telling you if that fight doesn’t happen we will take the Fury fight. [Joshua] will take that fight, the Wilder fight, he’ll take them all. But don’t be surprised to see that fight in the summer if that [Usyk] fight doesn’t happen.
“Because that’s much bigger than the Usyk fight, much bigger. That’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. Might be a little tinkle to George Warren, but we’ll see…”
Fury’s promoters have claimed they have a date pencilled in for April 29 at Wembley, his third UK bout in just over a year.
However, Hearn has theorised that if the pair are having money issues that have driven them away from a deal in the Middle East that it would be unlikely Fury takes a massive pay cut to fight in Wembley.
As such, he believes the WBC heavyweight champion may take another fight on that date, with Joshua stepping in for a summer fight that would garner massive British interest.
“I can’t see how this fight would happen in England,” Hearn added. “Unless one of them were willing to take much less than they expected for this fight.
“It still could be the biggest fight for Fury, outside of AJ and Francis Ngannou. But what I’m saying is if that fight doesn’t happen we’ll jump in, AJ will fight Fury… I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. I’m not trying to cause trouble I’m just giving you my honest opinion and that’s what I think.
“And, you know, I like to be quite realistic when it comes to boxing. And I think that you know the current crop of world champions are all 34, 35, 36. Not that much older than myself but old enough that they will be out of the game in the next year or two.
“And then it’s for all of the young bucks to have a big scramble to see what’s what. I might pick off a young buck, I might pick off an old boy we don’t know, but I’m going to pick some people off.”