Anthony Joshua could end up having a pretty great 2023. As fans are aware, AJ has made his return fight with Dillian Whyte official: August 12, The O2, London. This, a so-called “tune-up” for Joshua ahead of his much talked of December clash with Deontay Wilder – the Joshua Vs. Wilder fight now “on the table” according to Eddie Hearn – is, whether you like it or not, a risky move for Joshua.
Whyte, 29-3(19) may no longer be the force he once was, but he can still bang, and he will be up for this fight in a massive way. These two Londoners do not like each other, and we can expect an action fight for as long as it lasts. Joshua has been labeled “gun-shy” and “tentative” in recent times, and with good reason. But against Whyte, Joshua, 25-3(22) will be made to fight, he will be made to throw punches. Whyte will do his utmost to see to that.
But assuming the form-book is obeyed, and Joshua gets the KO win his career badly needs, it will then be on to the Wilder fight. And, if Joshua were to win that one, well, what a year it would be for him. The decision win AJ scored over Jermaine Franklin (this Joshua’s first fight working with new coach Derrick James) was so-so, but a KO win over Whyte, especially a nasty, X-rated KO, would get people taking more positively. While a December KO over Wilder would be huge for AJ, and it would force the critics to refer to him as a major force once again.
But can Joshua do it? Can the former two-time heavyweight champ see off Whyte AND Wilder? Hearn, promoting as well as speaking from the heart, says he is not happy about the way his star fighter is “risking it” by fighting Whyte ahead of Wilder, this when he had absolutely no need to do so. Oh, and Hearn says the Wilder deal that is currently on the table (a £60 million payday), will be off the table should AJ come a cropper on August 12.
“This one is wild because AJ has got the Wilder fight locked in for December,” Hearn said in speaking with talkSport Boxing. “We had meetings last week with the Saudis. You’ve got the Wilder fight in December, he could’ve just waited and had an easy, gimme fight at The O2 – but he’s decided to roll the dice. I don’t know how the Whyte fight goes, but we’ve been told categorically that the deal on the table is not the deal if he loses to Dillian Whyte. They didn’t want him to fight Whyte. It was almost like, ‘Please, don’t fight Dillian Whyte, you don’t need to. We’ve got this fight in December.’ But AJ was like,’ No, I want to fight.’”
Hearn says Joshua “should be praised for the fact that he wants to give you a real fight instead of just a tick-over fight until he fights Deontay Wilder – this is very dangerous.”
I know not all fans are in agreement, but Hearn is surely correct with this one. We all know how anything can happen when two heavyweight bangers get in there. And to repeat, Joshua and Whyte do not like each another, not one bit. Moan and groan about this fight, and it being on PPV, if you wish, but it’s a risky fight Joshua didn’t have to take, and for taking it he should indeed be applauded.
How many fans will be oh so eager to put the boot in if Whyte, who is “shot” and “is not deserving of this fight,” scores that KO win next month? It could so easily happen.