Matchroom chief Eddie Hearn has claimed that Anthony Joshua could finally face Deontay Wilder next year, once the Watford-born heavyweight has traded blows with Tyson Fury in a pair of highly-anticipated unification fights before the end of 2021. Wilder is aiming for a return to the top of the pile after spending twelve months out of the ring following his first career defeat at the hands of Fury in February last year.
The American was knocked out in the seventh round by the ‘Gypsy King’ to cap off a night to forget, with the 35-year-old losing his WBC heavyweight strap in the process.
Wilder has spent the majority of the past year making a wide variety of excuses for the result, ranging from being bogged down by the weight of his pre-fight costume to drinking a glass of water spiked by his own trainer with muscle relaxant.
However, he appears to finally be focusing on a return to action with a view to earning a shot at regaining his title.
He directly addressed the prospect of fighting either Joshua or Andy Ruiz Jr earlier this month, claiming that he wants to clear out the division by facing and beating those yet to challenge him.
When asked by Marcus Watson whether he would be interested in facing the pair, he replied: “Yeah. Any fighter that’s at the top that people haven’t seen me fight and people strongly want to see me fight, that’s who I want to fight.
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“I can sit here and name names all day, that’s the easy part. I’m just gonna go to the top.
“If it’s someone I ain’t fought, that’s who I want to fight.”
Hearn has since responded to Wilder’s claims by suggesting that a 2022 showdown between the ‘Bronze Bomber’ and Joshua could be on the cards.
The influential promoter highlighted the American’s prior decision to reject a big-money deal to face Joshua in the UK, hinting that the Alabama native’s current predicament may have sparked a change in outlook.
“If it’s the right fight for AJ, not stylistically, but if it’s the right commercial fight,” Hearn told Sky Sports.
“Listen, Deontay Wilder knows he turned down the deal of a lifetime to fight Anthony Joshua. But he made his bed and respect to him.
“I want to see him back in the ring. All we’re focusing on is the Tyson Fury fight. Anything else happens in 2022 because those two fights will be our plan for 2021.”
Wilder and Joshua had been tipped to face each other for some time before Fury stole the former’s heavyweight title last year.
It has been widely reported that Wilder retains the option to mandate a third and final fight with Fury as a result of a clause in the former champion’s contract.
This issue is said to be ongoing but is not expected to disrupt negotiations between Fury and Joshua as their two-fight deal edges closer to being formally announced.
It remains to be seen who Wilder will face next but he will undoubtedly be forced to wait at least another year in order to get his chance to down one of the reigning British heavyweight champions.