As WBN reported on Monday, promoter Eddie Hearn revealed a shortlist of three boxers over the weekend being looked at as possibles for Anthony Joshua’s return to the ring next spring.
Joshua, who is consistently linked to unifications against fellow-champions Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker, is set to follow through with a WBA mandatory contest on the back of successfully negotiating his IBF order against Carlos Takam on Saturday.
Wilder and Parker are likely to be left to simmer as Hearn awaits the outcome of an appeal by number one rated Luis Ortiz over his potential removal from the rankings, along with the WBA’s consideration of a final eliminator between Alexander Povetkin and Christian Hammer.
The WBO are also said to mulling over given sanctioning to a Povetkin v Hammer eliminator fight, meaning Fres Oquendo (waiting for his stipulated chance for some time now), could also get in the mix should the WBA order Ortiz v Oquendo instead.
What’s irking fans, apart from the fact they will be forced to wait for Joshua to fight Parker or Wilder, is Povetkin or undefeated Cuban Ortiz getting the chance for a lucrative payday against ‘AJ’ when both have failed drugs test, not only recently (which have been appealed) but also in the past.
There’s not much Hearn or Joshua can do about that and both are having to wait for who the WBA deem the top contender when the time comes for Joshua to negotiate a deal.
What are the potential venues?
Abuja National Stadium, Nigeria
A March date means Wembley Stadium would almost certainly be off the menu for Joshua’s 21st pro contest, leaving Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, the host for the win over Takam, as one of the favourites to host once again.
Hearn has all but ruled out going back to 20,000 capacity O2 Arena with the 2012 Olympic gold medallist, who has now outgrown the Docklands venue, which doesn’t leave the Matchroom boss too many options on UK soil.
A trip overseas has been touted previously, with Nigeria (Joshua’s homeland through his parents) an option due to an average temperature of the late 20’s during the month of March.
The 60,000 plus capacity Abuja National Stadium would be the ideal host for a cooler evening contest, which due to time-zone difference would only be an hour ahead of UK and still work perfectly.
More is set to be revealed in the near future once the fog lifts on the Ortiz situation, whilst the possibility of a unification could still rear its head should the WBA have no sole challenger in place by early next year.
Possible opponents at this point:
Possible venues at this point:
Abuja Stadium, Nigeria
Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Las Vegas, USA
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay