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Eddie Hearn: Anthony Joshua opponent to be announced this weekend

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Eddie Hearn updates the Anthony Joshua situation, and has some words about the Luis Ortiz story.

Promoter Eddie Hearn is busy this week not only promoting Friday night’s big DAZN card at the Forum in Inglewood, California, but also trying to finalize a replacement opponent for Anthony Joshua’s June 1 U.S. debut at Madison Square Garden in New York.

In this interview, Hearn discusses where negotiations are at, fighters who might be front-runners, and the Luis Ortiz situation.

On where the negotiations are for Anthony Joshua

“We’re closing in, and we want a decision hopefully Friday. Still four, five people in play, even people that have ruled themselves out, because sometimes that’s just posturing. The most important thing is to filter out those that just want the money or just want the publicity in being involved in either a fight or the negotiations to the ones that really want it. That’s what’s important to me. I want someone that really wants to win the world heavyweight title. I want someone who’s going to come and try to rip those belts from Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden. I think I’ve got a couple of those guys who really want it.

“The negotiations are really interesting. People feel like we’re in a corner, we’ve got to pay all this money to get people. Some of the numbers that people are asking are crazy. Some people are asking for eight figures in this fight.”

On Luis Ortiz saying he was lowballed

“I’m not going to talk about the numbers or negotiations because it might hinder the next 48 hours. One thing I promise you, I will be responding to a lot of people’s stories about ‘lowball offers’ and stuff like that, and I will show you the offers and let you decide if you think they’re lowball offers. You will be absolutely shocked what people have turned down for this fight.”

“Sometimes people can say things and it’s their opinion, but when it’s black and white and it’s in writing and it’s on the paper and it’s correspondence that — I read that article last night, and I actually texted the manager Jay Jimenez and I said, ‘Are you serious?’ I won’t tell you what he said, but I will (later). You’re gonna like it. You’re gonna like the truth.

“I’m fed up with people not just trying to use AJ’s name, but basically to lie about things. Listen, it is late notice, so the market rate does increase. But for some people, they’re in camp. That’s another thing I want. I want someone that’s ready. I don’t want someone that’s gonna come in and go, ‘Ah, well, I only had six weeks.’

“Andy Ruiz is a good example. Just finished a fight on Saturday. He’s fit, he’s ready to go, he’s in the mix. Michael Hunter, he’s training for May 25, he’s in the mix, ready to go. Trevor Bryan, he’s training. I don’t want someone to use the preparation time as an excuse.

“So when we announce this, which will probably be on the weekend, next week I’ll tell you about all the offers and everything that was said. You can see it with your own eyes. It’s very frustrating when you see articles like that that I saw last night.”

“We live in a crazy world where the market has gone mad. Some of these offers — Ortiz, for example, we know what Ortiz got to fight Wilder. ... I want to get things done. The person that will get this opportunity is the one that isn’t greedy. You’ve got to be a little bit greedy, because this is your opportunity to make your money. But there’s other people who will take it for less than you, because they want this shot, they want this fight, they believe they can win.”

On Andy Ruiz Jr being the front-runner

“Not really. I like him — I like Andy Ruiz as a person, and I think he’s got a massive heart. Physically, he don’t look the greatest, but he can fight. This is a tough fight for Joshua. He’s fast, he’s quite small, he’s explosive, he comes forward, he’s a good fighter.

“Michael Hunter is another good fight, trickier fight for Joshua. Very good mover, smaller, uses the ring well. They’re all good fights. We don’t know a lot about Trevor Bryan, other than he’s with Don King. He doesn’t have the résumé of these other guys. Don was the first person that called me, so I owed Don a call. Trevor’s not the front-runner, but he’s WBA No. 1 (contender).

“If Ruiz, if Hunter, if they really want the fight, they can make it happen. But it’s just time. Someone’s going to lose out on the opportunity.”

On what makes someone the right choice

“Honestly, when this happened, I phoned up Joshua and said, ‘Who do you want to fight?’ And he went, ‘Ed, I don’t mind, just tell me who I’m fighting.’

“The coach, a little bit different. (We) said Ortiz, he went, ‘Well, it’s not ideal, we’ve got three or four weeks of southpaw sparring, but if that’s all there is, we’ll fight him.’ We made offers to Ortiz, two offers, that didn’t work out.

“I spoke to him about Andy Ruiz, ‘that’s a good fight, he’s just coming off, he’s fit, he’s ready, he’s strong.’ Spoke to him about Michael Hunter, ‘that’s a good fight, tricky, blah blah blah.’ Trevor Bryan, ‘don’t really know him.’ Other guys as well. A lot of it comes down to style.

“When you talk about Ruiz, at least that is a guy — he’s kinda like the Mexican ‘Big Baby’ Miller, hopefully without the PEDs. ... It’s the styles are similar, the size is similar, he’s faster than Miller, actually. But same kind of physique, if you like. Size. So that sits up well.”

On where Joshua is at mentally

“Joshua’s quite excited by the challenge of the new opponent, I think. He’s got to adapt. People say it’s not ideal, a guy having six weeks notice. It’s not ideal for Joshua, who’s been training since 12 weeks out for Jarrell Miller.”