News that Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn that Anthony Joshua’s next fight will take place outside of London should mean a return to Manchester for the current heavyweight champion.
The 26 year-old has campaigned in London for his past five fights, claiming the world title and pushing his record to 17-0 in the process when packing out the O2 Arena with a series of brutal knockouts.
Making the O2 his home seemed the right move for London-born Joshua due to the location, although the former Millenium Dome still remains behind Manchester Arena in overall seating capacity.
This could mean Joshua is about to return to Manchester for the first time since a September 2014 stoppage of Konstantin Airich on the Anthony Crolla / Scott Quigg double-header against Gamaliel Diaz and Stephane Jamoye respectively.
Logically and logistically, Manchester is the only other option big enough to cope with the demand of housing a Joshua title defence, which Hearn says will be against one of three opponents.
One man out of the running is Joshua’s fellow-Brit David Price, whom Hearn believes needs a top name on his record before the Merseysider is considered.
“I don’t feel David Price is in the mix just yet. I feel he needs that breakthrough performance but we want him to get one because all these domestic clashes would be great. It just won’t be Price for the November clash,’ Hearn told Sky Sports.
Mandatory challenger Joseph Parker, hard-hitting Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev and ex-WBC ruler Bermane Stiverne are the trio of names on the Joshua shortlist.
“We’re looking for credibility and those three men are ranked in the top 15 and we’re looking for the right guy to test Anthony Joshua and progress him as a fighter,’ said Hearn. “People are looking for that step up and I think those three have the credibility.
“Tyson Fury is waiting. Who knows what’s happening with him. David Haye is due to announce a fight soon and we need these domestic fights to keep bubbling on but Pulev, Stiverne and Parker are the most likely opponents for November.’
The last time two Brits fought for a world heavyweight title was back in 2010 when David Haye blasted out Audley Harrison on Sky Box Office, although there are those who would argue that the full title at the time belonged to Wladimir Klitschko.
You’d have to go further back to 1997 when Lennox Lewis took out British-born Henry Akinwande via a fifth round DQ to retain the WBC heavyweight title in Nevada to a fully recognised championship being on the line.
Price was recently repositioned in the Top 15 of the world rankings due to upheld drug allegations against previous opponent Erkan Teper and could be chosen by Hearn in 2017 should they so wish to go down that route and the ex-British champ stays unbeaten.
Of the three named by Hearn, Stiverne has seemingly been ruled out following a WBC interim title chance being stipulated against Alexander Povetkin, whilst Parker has a fight on October 1 against Alexander Dimitrenko which would make a quick turnaround difficult.
As it stands, Pulev is the only one of the three available to negotiate for November.