Boxing Fans Won't Wait Until Christmas To Unwrap Anthony Joshua Vs Dillian Whyte

Are British boxing fans in for an eight-month wait for a fight they don't want?
15:00, 10 Apr 2023

Anthony Joshua has only been out of the ring for a week before revealing his next move. Unfortunately, that move will not come to fruition for eight months. AJ took to Instagram over the weekend to explain the fact he is taking almost the entirety of the rest of the year off. 

"My next fight is scheduled for December. Not ideal but everything is part of a bigger picture,"

Quite what that bigger picture is wasn’t made clear in the post. Optimistic fight fans might hope it pertains to a huge domestic superfight with WBC champion Tyson Fury. Given how drawn out ‘The Gypsy King’ likes his negotiations, a winter date seems realistic.


Perhaps the far-off fight will feature Deontay Wilder in the opposing corner? The two have not been shy about calling each other out, with AJ bringing up ‘The Bronze Bomber’ as recently as last week. With Wilder engaged in talks for an on-off showdown with former Joshua conqueror Andy Ruiz Jr, perhaps the plan is to let him take that fight before meeting in December?

The more likely scenario is one that most boxing fans will not be able to stomach. For months now, Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has been banging the drum for his man to engage in a rematch with old rival Dillian Whyte. The Matchroom chief told The Sportsman this was on the cards as far back as October.

Whyte’s name has never gone away in the Matchroom narrative surrounding AJ. He was cited as part of Hearn’s three-fight plan for Joshua in January of this year. In this plan, Whyte was cited as fighting AJ second out of the three proposed 2023 fights. The plan was that a victory for the Olympic gold medalist would tee him up for Fury or Wilder towards the end of the year. Perhaps the Whyte step has been removed, with Joshua going straight in with one of the A-listers?


That seems unlikely given how hard Hearn was banging the ‘Body Snatcher’ drum, doing so as late as last week. If AJ is specifying December for a fight, it seems likely that an agreement is in place already. It feels unlikely two personalities as vocal as Fury and Wilder would have quickly and covertly agreed such a blockbuster of a bout. Hearn is an old pro at this game, there is a reason Whyte is the name you’ve heard above all others. 

If fans are made to wait the rest of the year for that lukewarm match-up, it will be a disaster. Fans are already starting to lose interest in Joshua after his moderate display in defeating Jermaine Franklin last week. Having that sort of reaction linger on for the rest of the year will be damaging to AJ’s treasured brand. The reaction is also unlikely to dissipate with a victory over Whyte, no matter how impressive it is.

For Dillian, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. At worst he gets a bumper payday for a big domestic dust-up. It’s a chance to put right the wrong of his 2015 knockout loss to Joshua. He’ll either get redemption or not, but either way he’ll get paid. At a time when his loss to Fury and narrow victory over Franklin have portrayed a fighter past his prime, that’s all Whyte can ask for.

Those rewards aren’t there for Joshua. A stoppage win is just going over old ground, against arguably a worse version of Whyte than the one he beat eight years ago. A points win would raise the same old questions about Joshua’s switch to a tentative ring style. The same questions his recent victory over Franklin invited. A defeat would be a career-ender, though perhaps after three defeats in his last six outings, the same could be said for any Joshua loss at this stage. 

Perhaps Hearn has divorced himself from the idea of staging Joshua vs Whyte II. Perhaps good sense will prevail and fans won’t be kept waiting until Christmas for a fight nobody wants to find under their tree. Eight months out of the ring is a decision Joshua won’t have taken lightly. Hopefully the two-time heavyweight champion of the world realises that only a fight with either Fury or Wilder would justify the lay-off.

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