Anthony Joshua could face Dillian Whyte in his next fight depending on how long the Olympian decides to wait before his comeback bout.
That's according to boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, who has hinted Saturday's clash between Whyte and Jermaine Franklin could act as an eliminator for the rights to take on 'AJ'. Whyte beat Joshua via unanimous decision over three rounds as an amateur but suffered a seventh-round TKO loss to his old rival—his first professional defeat—when they clashed again in December 2015.
"AJ’s going to come back in late February, or he will wait for a bigger fight," Matchroom chief Hearn—who promotes both Whyte and Joshua—told Metro. "If he waits, he’ll go straight into the Dillian Whyte fight. If not, we’ll still do that but in the summer after AJ’s fight in February.
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"AJ’s not interested in a couple of knock-over jobs, he’s never done it. They all say the same thing: ‘Give me the biggest fight out there.’ Franklin’s fighting to beat Dillian and then face AJ."
Joshua—who won gold at the London 2012 Olympics—has seen his legacy tarnished following back-to-back defeats against Oleksandr Usyk. The 33-year-old lost his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titles to the Ukrainian in September 2021 before a split-decision repeat this past August.
Whyte, 34, is also coming off a loss after he suffered a stoppage at Tyson Fury's hands in April. He faces undefeated Franklin (21-0) at Wembley's OVO Arena, where a convincing result could propel him back into the heavyweight spotlight.
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When asked what Whyte wants from the remainder of his career, Hearn detailed 'The Body Snatcher' is only in the hunt for "big fights." And the history with Joshua only adds extra incentive in Whyte's search for redemption.
"The winner of the Franklin fight is probably frontrunner to take on Anthony Joshua in the first fight of 2023," said Hearn. "He wants to fight Deontay Wilder, he would love another crack at Fury, he wants Usyk, [Joe] Joyce, [Daniel] Dubois.
"You’ve got four or five fights left, really, and he just wants to face all of those guys, but he needs to have a big win against Franklin and he needs to impress and show he has a lot left."
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