- Anthony Joshua is looking for an opponent for his next bout on December 23
- Promoter Eddie Hearn said Agit Kabayel and Filip Hrgovic could be opponents
- Joshua was hoping to face Deontay Wilder in Saudi Arabia before talks collapsed
Joshua is looking for his next opponent as he continues his road to recovery following crushing back-to-back defeats against Oleksandr Usyk, with AJ getting back to winning ways against Jermaine Franklin and Robert Helenius this year.
But despite fans demanding a mouth-watering clash between Joshua and former WBC world champion Deontay Wilder, talks for that fight are now on the rocks. It was set to be staged in Saudi Arabia before changes in the country’s boxing management left it in doubt.
Hearn had been discussing possible opponents after giving up hope on the Wilder fight coming to fruition this year, saying Kabayel – who has won all 23 of his pro bouts – was a contender. He also suggested unbeaten Croatian star Filip Hrgovic and Swedish fighter Otto Wallin.
However, he dismissed suggestions that WBA ‘regular’ champion Mahmoud Charr could step in and fight AJ.
Anthony Joshua could face unbeaten German Agit Kabayel in his next fight, says Eddie Hearn
Hearn ruled out Deontay Wilder and said AJ would look to face someone in the top 15
‘[Charr] is looking for an opponent. He’s got the WBA regular title, which we certainly wouldn’t be saying Joshua is a three-time heavyweight champion [if he won that belt]. Definitely not,’ he told SecondsOut.
‘But at the same time, if he’s going to fight someone in December, I’m not saying it will be Charr, but it could be Kabayel. It could be Hrgovic or Wallin out of this situation, let’s see what happens.’
Kabayel’s most famous win came when he shocked Dereck Chisora by beating the British star by unanimous decision in 2017.
Hearn said anyone who wanted to see Joshua fight Wilder, Zhilei Zhang – fresh off his second victory over Joe Joyce – or old opponent Andy Ruiz would be disappointed as he revealed how his star boxer was insistent that he fight three times in 2023.
‘It’s not going to be Deontay Wilder, it’s not going to be Andy Ruiz, and it probably won’t be Zhang, so you have to look at that top-15,’ he added.
He also mentioned Filip Hrgovic and Otto Wallin as possible opponents for his star fighter
‘Honestly, we haven’t really—we’re more [sure] on the date than the opponent. He wants to fight in December.
‘In his head he says he wanted to fight three times in a year. But I said, “you fought in April”. He said, “no, I want to fight three times in 2023”. So he would love to get in in December. And we’ll have to keep one eye on the 23rd (of December) because we just don’t know what’s going to happen.’
Speaking at the United States Grand Prix this weekend, Joshua remained coy about the December bout.
‘It won’t be a championship fighter – which is Usyk and Fury,’ he said. ‘It won’t be none of them guys and I am not too sure about the Wilder situation.’
Joshua is looking to keep momentum after easing to a stoppage win against Robert Helenius
He did talk up the possibility of facing Wilder next year and even suggested it could take place on the same card as Tyson Fury against Usyk.
‘They want to put Usyk v Fury and Joshua v Wilder on the same night,’ he added.
‘When Fury gets through Ngannou it is going to be late October going into November, so I doubt he will prepare for Usyk and then fight in December.
‘It is too short. So the next window will be in March or April and that is when the undisputed fight will happen. What we are being told is that they want to make it a mega card.’