Hearn now looking at Johann Duhaupas for Joshua’s first defence

As fans have most probably read, new IBF heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua’s first title defence has been officially announced for expected venue The O2 in London, on June 25th (two weeks before world heavyweight champ Tyson Fury meets Wladimir Klitschko in their big rematch). Another big sell-out is anticipated, even though fans who are buying tickets do not yet know who the 16-0(16) Joshua’s challenger will be.

There have been a selection of names put out there as being the most likely to land what could be called the, “Joshua lottery,” as in the substantial payday the as yet unknown challenger will collect. Promoter Eddie Hearn has repeatedly said the June foe will likely be an American fighter as AJ wants to crack the American market (with both Showtime and HBO very keen on a long working relationship with the fighter many predict will become a global star). However, in his latest column for The Mail, Hearn said Frenchman Johann Duhaupas is now “being looked at.”

Hearn explains how former WBC champ Bermane Stiverne is not rated in the latest IBF top-15 rankings, which strongly reduces his chances of facing Joshua next. So, entering the picture – which also includes Eric Molina and Dominic Breazeale – is Duhaupas. The 35-year-old showed plenty of heart and durability in extending Deontay Wilder into the 11th-round not too long ago, and “Reptile,” as Duhaupas is known, is coming off an upset stoppage win over Robert Helenius. Tough, in shape for every fight, gutsy and – perhaps most attractively to Team-Joshua – hittable, Duhaupas makes sense as the June challenger.

If this fight is made, fans will be able to compare Joshua’s performance against Duhaupas to Wilder’s showing. How much credit would Joshua get if he were to stop the French slugger much quicker than Wilder did? Would Joshua’s rep go up a notch of he were to blast Duhaupas out? Would Wilder’s stock go down a little?

Right now, Molina, Breazeale and Duhaupas are all training, and hoping, for the big fight opportunity. Come on, Eddie, put us out of our misery and make it official!