AJ set for March return after ‘losing faith with boxing’ over Fury debacle

Anthony Joshua looks set to make his in-ring return in March 2023, according to Matchroom chief Eddie Hearn.

The Brit has not fought since he was beaten for the second consecutive time by Oleksandr Usyk. A ‘Battle of Britain’ clash against Tyson Fury looked to be on the cards, only for talks between their two competing promotions to collapse in the later stages.

With Fury set to complete a trilogy with Derek Chisora on December 3, Joshua currently finds himself without an opponent for the last two months of the year. And while Hearn admitted Joshua has "lost faith a little" with the sport, after the recent debacle, there now appears to be something for Joshua to work towards.

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“He was just p***ed off,” Hearn said to a group of reporters, when asked about how Joshua is feeling. “He just sort of lost faith a little bit with boxing because he really wanted to fight Tyson Fury.

“I think that’s the main reason he didn’t fight this year. It sort of messed up his mojo and made him think, ‘What are these people doing?’

“That’s why you’re gonna see him fight maybe at the end of February, but probably March. We were going through opponents tonight and I think he’s now gonna have the rest of the year off probably and start camp at the beginning of January.”

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Joshua has lost three of his last five fights, getting knocked out by Andy Ruiz in June 2019, before losing to Usyk by an unanimous decision and a split decision in 2021 and August this year. However, Hearn insisted he has not lost any confidence and is still winning to “fight everybody”. “I couldn’t say a fight to AJ that he doesn’t [accept]…” Hearn indeed. “He just wants to fight everybody.

“It’s just a case of whether he has an easier fight before he goes into a Deontay Wilder or a Dillian Whyte basically. I think Otto Wallin’s a very fair fight for AJ to come back to.

“Filip Hrgovic is a great fight, he’s IBF mandatory. I think the winner of Dillian Whyte vs Jermaine Franklin is a very, very good frontrunner for his next fight.”

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