Anthony Joshua, who won the IBF heavyweight title from Charles Martin on April 9 at the O2 Arena in London, will return to the venue on June 25 for a title defense, likely against an American challenger, as Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing are looking to get a long-term U.S. TV deal done for the rising heavyweight superstar. Both HBO and Showtime are said to be highly interested.
As previously mentioned, there are plenty of names in the mix, with Eddie Hearn naming Bermane Stiverne, Eric Molina, and Dominic Breazeale as potential opponents. Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KO) beat Derric Rossy somewhat unimpressively in November, 10 months after losing his WBC title to Deontay Wilder. Molina (25-3, 19 KO) also lost to Wilder in 2015, but went to Poland to rally from behind on the cards to knock out an aging Tomasz Adamek on April 2. Breazeale (17-0, 15 KO) is still a prospect and total work in progress, and has struggled in his last two fights, wins against veterans Fred Kassi and Amir Mansour. There may be a feeling that he should risk his "0" for money and glory instead of potentially losing it in a smaller fight.
But the really big fights out there are against fellow UK stars Tyson Fury, the true world heavyweight champion, and David Haye.
From Sky Sports:
"I think the next fight after June 25 could be Tyson Fury," said Hearn. "David Haye is a big fight. There is no real carrot with a David Haye fight, other than it's a huge fight with a load of money to be made.
"I think AJ wants the belts, he wants to unify the division. To do that, you have to beat Tyson Fury. We feel like Tyson Fury is a much easier fight than David Haye."
Fury (25-0, 18 KO) is set to face Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KO) in a July 9 rematch in Manchester. Assuming he gets through that first title defense, a fight with Joshua could be massive, but it represents a major risk. Though Joshua can claim to be a "world champion" by virtue of holding a belt, and even though his potential and talent are very real, beating Charles Martin is simply not the same as beating Tyson Fury, who has proven he is the best heavyweight on the planet.
Do you think Hearn and Matchroom are letting the obvious star power of Joshua cloud their vision a bit? Are they at risk of moving him too fast and hurting his long-term potential?