Anthony Joshua: Eddie Hearn reveals shortlist of opponents to build to Tyson Fury fight

Anthony Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has admitted that the heavyweight likely needs one more fight before taking on Tyson Fury.

Joshua was a decision winner against Jermaine Franklin in London on Saturday, but the Briton’s performance drew criticism. “AJ”, 33, laboured through the main event at the O2 Arena, leading some fans to dismiss his calls for a clash with Fury next time out.

“I’ve been speaking to him a lot since the fight,” Hearn said on The MMA Hour on Monday (3 April). “We’ve been going through the fight, going through his performance.

“The general feeling is: We need another fight, a step-up from Franklin. In order to gel and continue improving with Derrick James [Joshua’s new coach], we need another fight in the summer – [a fight] of that nature.

“We also know that the Tyson Fury fight – whether that’s even possible – may be a summer fight, and that might be the only chance. So, it’s a difficult decision next.

“I think if we’re doing it with a view to keep improving and to create longevity and to get him to his best, then we should have another fight. Momentum is key for ‘AJ’. He’s boxed like twice a year, sometimes once a year through Covid, for the last three or four years.

“I want him to box in July, and then again in December. I think it’ll do him really good to have a couple of weeks off now, then go straight back to Texas with Derrick James.”

Hearn went on to name Dillian Whyte, Joe Joyce and Otto Wallin as potential opponents for Joshua in his next bout.

Joshua, who lost to Whyte in the amateurs, knocked out his fellow Briton in 2015. Whyte edged past Franklin via decision in November, before being snubbed for a rematch with Joshua this spring, as “AJ” was paired with Franklin instead.

Briton Joyce is unbeaten as a professional and holds stoppage wins over Daniel Dubois and Joseph Parker. The Team GB Olympic silver medalist is due to box Zhilei Zhang on 15 April.

Meanwhile, Wallin has won five fights in a row since the sole loss of his professional career, a decision defeat by Tyson Fury, whom the Swede nearly stopped in 2019 after inflicting a severe cut.

Click here to subscribe to The Independent’s Sport YouTube channel for all the latest sports videos.