Anthony Joshua still needs an opponent for June 1 after the Jarrell Miller disaster last week, where Miller failed three VADA drug tests and was removed from the scheduled DAZN main event at Madison Square Garden.
Joshua said on Monday that he expected an announcement within 48-72 hours, and it looks like we’re getting close, indeed. talkSPORT’s Michael Benson tweets that promoter Eddie Hearn has gotten the list down to six names:
Eddie Hearn has given an update on the shortlist to fight Anthony Joshua on June 1st: [@ESPN]— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) April 23, 2019
Andy Ruiz Jr
Quick glances at these options, in that order:
- Andy Ruiz Jr (32-1, 21 KO) is coming off of a dominant win on Saturday over Alexander Dimitrenko, which was Ruiz’s PBC debut. The 29-year-old Ruiz has been aggressive about putting himself in the mix, saying before the fight and after that he was genuinely interested in subbing in. He’s had one shot at a world title in his career, losing a majority decision to Joseph Parker in New Zealand back in Dec. 2016. It was a highly competitive fight.
- Luis Ortiz (31-1, 26 KO) is pretty much everyone’s first choice, including Hearn’s and, according to Hearn, Joshua’s. Like Ruiz, the 40-year-old Cuban southpaw is a PBC fighter, which could complicate matters. Both have real value as potential opponents for Deontay Wilder to keep Wilder in the PBC fold going forward. Hearn said initially that he contacted Ortiz’s team but was told they wouldn’t be ready by June 1, but money and opportunity can certainly change minds, and if a deal with PBC can be worked out, well, cross your fingers. It’s the best option here. His only loss was a wild brawl with Wilder last year.
- Michael Hunter (16-1, 11 KO) has been the consensus BLH community expectation, it would seem. The 30-year-old American is a former Olympian, losing on countback to current light heavyweight titleholder Artur Beterbiev at London 2012. Hunter is American and he’s a recent Matchroom Boxing signing, and is currently scheduled to fight May 25 in Chicago on the Usyk-Takam card. He has no opponent, but he’s been training, which means he might completely fit the bill. Hunter has expressed his interest on social media. He started his pro career as a cruiserweight, and his only loss came to Oleksandr Usyk in 2017. He’s won four straight since moving up.
- Mahmoud Charr (31-4, 17 KO) is the current WBA “world” titleholder, the organization’s secondary belt as Joshua is their “super world” titleholder. The 34-year-old has a compelling life story and is a generally interesting guy, but has had a couple shots at major name heavyweights and gotten dominated by Vitali Klitschko in 2012 and Alexander Povetkin in 2014. He also lost to Johann Duhaupas in 2015 and was KO’d by cruiserweight Mairis Briedis that same year.
- Trevor Bryan (20-0, 14 KO) is the WBA’s interim titleholder, which they came up with when Charr was inactive, despite already having a totally active titleholder in the division. Sanctioning bodies are great. Anyway, the 29-year-old Bryan’s best win came last August, when he beat BJ Flores, who is really a cruiserweight and is well past his best days. Bryan is American, unbeaten, and associated with the WBA. Those are the points in his favor.
- Agit Kabayel (19-0, 13 KO) is a 26-year-old German and the reigning European champion, a title he’s held since beating Herve Hubeaux in 2017, defending successfully against Dereck Chisora, Miljan Rovcanin, and Andriy Rudenko. Kabayel appears for all the world to simply be a European-level fighter, but the only step past the European level is the world level, and at some point, he has to try his luck.
Personal preference from me to you: