We are still well over a month out from Anthony Joshua’s next defence of his WBA, IBF, WBO world heavyweight titles against Jarrell Miller, but that hasn’t stopped the rumours circling around the potential action on the undercard inside Madison Square Garden.
Nothing has been confirmed as yet but with a strong British contingent expected to make the trip across the pond, a who’s who of potentials have been mentioned by Eddie Hearn over the past few weeks.
A big budget is reported for this show on June 1, however, expect a busy night for TBA with last-minute opponents becoming a theme of these UK PPV (and USA DAZN) nights.
Callum Smith: likelihood 4/10
After winning the WBA super-middleweight crown against the since retired George Groves in Jeddah, “Mundo” is eyeing up a tick-over defence in the early summer, before a possible unification towards the back end of the year.
Smith is widely regarded as the main man at 168 pounds but has taken some time out with his new family since winning the World Boxing Super Series in September last year.
Hearn is yet to commit to the date of Smith’s return to action, but it looks likely to be a toss-up between the Usyk-Takam and Joshua-Miller undercards. A fight against David Benavidez would be one of the best contests across all the divisions in boxing, but saying this, expect a lower-ranked, cheaper option as Smith looks to brush off any possible cobwebs.
Kell Brook: likelihood 9/10
Kell Brook’s stagnation has become a running theme. If he’s not in above his head against the likes of Gennady Golovkin or Errol Spence Jr, he’s fighting relative nobodies, just floating around the welterweight/junior middleweight divisions.
Brook is mandatory for Jarrett Hurd’s IBF strap at junior middleweight. Hurd takes on Julian Williams on May 11, with Brook using a spot on the June 1 undercard to prepare for a fight later in the year against “Swift”; or revisiting old ground in a domestic fight with Amir Khan. If Khan loses to Crawford on April 20, expect Brook-Khan rhetoric to be rear its ugly head once again.
Kal Yafai: likelihood 8/10
Kal Yafai has held the WBA super flyweight title since 2016 and has always proved a good option for Hearn to stick on the undercard of PPV shows. Yafai got outings on Joshua’s defences against Carlos Takam and Eric Molina, with another defence expected on June 1.
Yafai is expected to face mandatory challenger Norbelto Jimenez after their camps made a deal for the fight last month. The 28-year-old challenger has a bizarre record. Having won just two of his first eleven fights, “Meneito” has since gone unbeaten to push his record to 28-8-4 coming into this, his second attempt at a world title. A draw against Kohei Kono was his only other chance to gain world honours in 2014.
If Yafai doesn’t feature, he’ll be expected to headline a Saturday night show in June, potentially in Birmingham, UK.
Joshua Buatsi: likelihood 8/10
Joshua Buatsi looks well-positioned to become one of Matchroom’s next big stars. In a third-round stoppage of Liam Conroy at East London’s Copper Box last month, the 26-year-old claimed the British light heavyweight crown in style.
Many believe Buatsi is well above domestic level already; a fight in New York may well signal his intentions of dropping the British title in order to move through the ranks quicker. Buatsi is likely to be given a light touch on June 1, in order to raise his profile across the pond. Experience of fighting inside Madison Square Garden will be a huge arrow to the bow of one of Britain’s most exciting prospects.
Katie Taylor: likelihood 10/10
WBO, WBA, IBF world lightweight champion Katie Taylor is also being lined up for her fourth consecutive fight Stateside. Having extended her record to 13-0 via Boston, New York and Philadelphia over the past six months, a unification fight with WBC champion Delfine Persoon is expected to land on the Joshua-Miller undercard.
With a 43-1 record, the Belgian has held the WBC title since 2014, successfully defending it on nine occasions, just once outside Belgium.
Taylor is looking to join Cecilia Brækhus in cleaning out a division, before a potential move up to junior welterweight later on in 2019.