As WBN reported on Saturday, Michael Hunter is expected to be in the opposite corner to Anthony Joshua when the first bell rings in Madison Square Garden on June 1st.
The American former cruiserweight world title challenger has moved to the head of the pack after intense speculation.
World Boxing News has learned Hunter will be confirmed as the opponent for Joshua by the middle of next week. barring a u-turn by Luis Ortiz.
Despite a late surge by several fighters, Hunter always seemed to be the first choice for promoter Eddie Hearn.
Recently signing with Matchroom, Hunter would almost certainly have been earmarked as the replacement if anything happened with Jarrell Miller.
It’s something Hearn is known for. As in 2017, Carlos Takam had been secured as the substitute should Kubrat Pulev back out.
That proved to be the case and it was Takam who then stepped in to lose against Joshua.
The heavyweight champion’s fights are way too lucrative for Hearn not to have a back-up plan, despite an initial shortlist being drawn up in earnest.
Ortiz and Adam Kownacki, as Al Haymon fighters, were always unlikely to take the Joshua bout at six weeks notice.
Others named by Hearn, in Agit Kabayel and Mahmoud Charr, were behind Hunter as Joshua needs an American opponent or someone with US ties.
That leaves Hunter out on his own as the only viable contender on the back of US-based Otto Wallin and Frank Sanchez making themselves available.
Even Trevor Bryan and Chris Arreola had a better chance then the likes of Dillian Whyte of being chosen.
The latest odds by SkyBet show how far in front of the remaining choices Hunter is at odds on.
Whyte is second at 5/1 but is British, whilst Ortiz and Charr come next but are both effectively out of the running – as WBN understands the current climate.
ANTHONY JOSHUA – NEXT OPPONENT ODDS
Michael Hunter 10/11
Dillian Whyte 5/1
Luis Ortiz 6/1
Manuel Charr 6/1
Adam Kownacki 8/1
Bryant Jennings 10/1
Oleksandr Usyk 12/1
Joseph Parker 14/1
Dereck Chisora 16/1
Trevor Bryan 16/1
Tyson Fury 16/1
Oscar Rivas 18/1
Chris Areola 20/1
Deontay Wilder 20/1
Murat Gassiev 25/1
Dave Allen 28/1
Daniel Dubois 33/1
Joe Joyce 33/1
Hughie Fury 40/1
Nathan Gorman 40/1
Wladimir Klitschko 50/1
Dominic Breazeale 66/1
Charles Martin 100/1
Shannon Briggs 100/1
Courtesy of SkyBet