Joshua vs. Wilder in jeopardy, AJ could fight Hrgovic or Ruiz next

By Boxing News - 09/08/2023 - Comments

By Jake Tiernan: Eddie Hearn says Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder fight might not happen next due to a shift in management in Saudi boxing towards other fights. The Matchroom bossman Hearn sounded gloomy talking about the Joshua-Wilder fight potentially not happening.

Hearn says there are other countries interested in staging the Joshua-Wilder fight, but there’s also a possibility that Joshua could face Filip Hrgovic or Andy Ruiz Jr. next if the mega-fight with Wilder doesn’t happen.

Joshua fighting Usyk or Ruiz wouldn’t be a massive fight, and there would be a lot of risk for AJ to lose to either guy. With Joshua’s new timid fighting style, he could get knocked out because those guys are fast starters.

The new Saudi management are the ones putting on the Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou fight next month on October 28th in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It’s unclear if the new Saudi management prefers those types of hybrid boxing matches, with boxers who are acting over the top in a WWE theatrical fashion, facing MMA fighters in boxing matches or in the cage.

Fury revealed yesterday that he’d signed a new massive contract for tons of money, and his interests moving forward are NOT fights against Joshua or Oleksandr Usyk. The fights Fury says he wants are matches against Ngannou & Jon Jones in the cage.

So presumably, this could suggest that the Saudis are shifting away from boxing to MMA-type fights with boxers going into the cage.

Joshua vs. Wilder might not happen

“If we don’t get that sorted soon, you’ll probably see AJ fight [another opponent] in December,” Eddie Hearn told Boxing King Media about the Deontay Wilder vs. Anthony Joshua fight in jeopardy.

“Firstly, Prince Khalid have been great partners with us and great friends. I’m sure we’ll work with that new entity as well. You saw yesterday they throw a lot of money in these things and make some noise,” said Hearn.

It sounds like the Saudis have shifted their interest and are no longer excited about seeing Joshua fight Wilder. Given how timid Joshua has looked in his last two fights, it’s understandable why the Saudis are staging Fury-Ngannou. That contest will have guaranteed fireworks from start to finish.

“For us, we’ve agreed to terms for Joshua & Wilder, but until we receive a contract, the fights not happening,” said a gloomy-sounding Hearn. “Everybody has agreed to terms, but until the money is put in place, the fights not happening.

“There’s a movement in management and ownership of boxing in Saudi, and it’s up to them what they want to do. If they don’t want to do Joshua-Wilder, maybe it goes somewhere else, but it’s one of the biggest fights in heavyweight boxing.

“I said before,  I wouldn’t be surprised if Joshua fights Fury. It’s quite funny because I’ve ended up watching Fury on Netflix, which I actually thought really good, and you you can’t actually help but like the family.

‘When you watch that, you realize that you know they’re likable people. Regarding the boxing chat. Yesterday I noticed a lot of, ‘I’m not interested in Usyk. He lost, he got knocked out by Dubois, and he’s useless. Joshua is a gym sweeper, never fighting him. I got no interest; I’m only interested in the big boys.’ Who are the big boys?

“If you’re not interested in Joshua, Usyk, and you’ve already fought Wilder three times, who are you talking about? Fighting exhibitions? So for me, the biggest boxing fight for Tyson Fury is Anthony Joshua now.

“The Usyk fight delivers the undisputed if he even cares about that. I saw another quote from him saying he doesn’t care about that. He’s never mentioned it. He’s not interested. So you never know if he’s telling the truth if he’s just acting up, whatever. But for me, the biggest fight for us and the biggest fight for him is Tyson Fury,” Hearn said.

AJ could fight in December

“So, I don’t know how Saudi’s strategy is going to sit. Do they want to make Fury-Usyk and Joshua-Wilder still? Do they want to make Fury against AJ? I don’t know,” said Hearn.

Joshua needs to buy some personality 

It would be a good idea for Hearn to remake Joshua to give him some personality like Fury because it’s clear that the Saudis want fighters that can entertain inside & outside of the ring. Joshua, in his present form, is not an entertaining fighter in the ring and is painfully boring outside of the ring.

“We’re up for all of those fights, but if we don’t get that sorted soon, you’ll probably see AJ fight in December at a level above where he’s been fighting because he wants to stay active,” said Hearn.

So that’s all I can tell you, really, and I’ve kept everybody up to speed. I love people that say, ‘Oh, Eddie Hearn made it up about Wilder. That fight’s not happening.’ No, we’ve agreed terms for that fight. We’re happy with the offer, but there has been a change of movement in the region, and we’ll wait to see what the offers are.

“We’ve also had approaches now from other countries that want to stage that fight [Joshua vs. Wilder]. We can also do that fight at Wembley. We can also do that fight in America, but it’s just timing.

“Really, it’s frustrating because we’ve been waiting and waiting. We’ve been patient with them, and we’ve agreed to everything, but now it’s slow, and it’s slow for the reasons that we just discussed,” said Hearn.

Options for Joshua’s next fight

“Filip Hrgovic, Andy Ruiz, I don’t know,” said Hearn about possible other opponents for Joshua to fight next. “It needs to be a step up, but it will probably take place outside of the UK. He just boxed two fights at the O2 in three months, four months,” said Hearn.

Again, it would be highly risky to put the shell-shocked-looking Joshua in with an in-shape, lean, hungry Andy Ruiz Jr. or the hard-hitting Filip Hrgovic next.

“There’s no guarantee he’ll fight in December, and we still want to make the Wilder fight. I’ve already reached out to Saudi Arabia to say, ‘Look, whoever’s moving boxing forward, we’ve agreed to this, and we’re ready, so if you want to do that, fine,” said Hearn.

“If not, no problem. We’ll look at the Fury fight, or we’ll do our own fight, or we’ll box somewhere else. We’re not going to be short of offers for venues to fight, but that is the fight we want, and honestly, that was the one we hope still happens,” said Hearn.

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