Hearn: Joshua return set for August but Whyte fight unlikely

EXCLUSIVE: Eddie Hearn reveals Anthony Joshua’s NEXT fight is targeted for August 12, but the O2 Arena is booked and his return WON’T be against Dillian Whyte… as Matchroom refrain from a big stadium bout

  • Anthony Joshua last fought Jermaine Franklin and won via a unanimous decision
  • His return has been pencilled in for August, according to promoter Eddie Hearn 
  • Mail Sport understands his opponent will not be favourite Dillian Whyte, though

Eddie Hearn has revealed Anthony Joshua is expected to return to the ring on August 12, although it is believed his opponent is unlikely to be Dillian Whyte.

After defeating Jermaine Franklin in his last bout, Joshua insisted he would not fight again until December. However, promoter Hearn is seemingly eager for him to stage his comeback in the interim and Whyte was lined up as the favourite to face him.

Mail Sport understands, though, that Whyte, unlike Joshua, is not in camp and is therefore not available to square off against the former heavyweight world champion. The identity of his potential replacement is not currently known.

Hearn has been locked in lengthy talks about a super-fight against Deontay Wilder set for the end of the year, but no official offer has yet been tabled from the Middle East.

As a result, Joshua, who has fought just once under new coach Derrick James, is set to stage a fight in the meantime, with London seemingly identified as the location.

Anthony Joshua’s return to the ring is expected to take place in August, Eddie Hearn says

However, Dillian Whyte is not in camp and is therefore seemingly unavailable for the fight

Promoter Hearn said London is likely to play host but a big stadium bout is now not expected

Hearn admitted as much when inadvertently letting slip that he plans to press ahead with plans for a summer showdown regardless of the stance in Saudi Arabia. 

He told Boxing Social: ‘We’ve got May 27th, we’ve got June 10, we’ve got July 1st. We’re probably going to go July 29 as well.

‘AJ’s probably fighting August 12th. It’s the summer period and we’re smashing out shows left, right and centre.’

On the expected location of Joshua’s next fight, Hearn told IFLTV: ‘I think it will be in London and depending on who it could be in a stadium.’

Mail Sport also understands that Matchroom have booked the O2 Arena, meaning that the capital is indeed expected to play host for the event, albeit not in a stadium.

Joshua last fought in April against Franklin.

His triumph came courtesy of a unanimous decision coming after consecutive defeats at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk. 

Whyte then quickly emerged as the frontrunner for Joshua’s next opponent, before surprise talks over a star-studded bout with Wilder in the desert began. 

Joshua last fought Jermaine Franklin and is set to take part in a blockbuster summer event

Mail Sport understands Matchroom have booked the O2 Arena (pictured) in the capital

Hearn has been locked in lengthy talks over a super-fight against Deontay Wilder (above)

Hearn has admitted that there is still no official proposal from Whyte or his camp and voiced his belief that the fight ‘makes sense’, regardless of the latest development.

‘Still waiting for an offer,’ he told Boxing News. 

‘You know, they tell us it’s happening, but no offer yet. So we’re focused now on that August date. 

‘AJ’s back in camp in Texas and we’ll be working away at that fight. No, there are others, but that’s the fight I think that makes sense. 

‘We’re talking to DAZN about it and we expect to make a formal offer to Dillian Whyte. But we’ll see what plays out in the Middle East as well.’

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