Anthony Joshua still looking for a Deontay Wilder fight despite doubts

Anthony Joshua has recently confirmed his intention to fight Deontay Wilder. The former unified heavyweight champion said that plans for the Wilder bout are going well after Saudi promoters Skills Challenge withdrew their interest following a change in the boxing landscape in Saudi Arabia.

Joshua also stated that he has no intention to fight anyone else as he is still planning for a December fight with Wilder, and there will be no time for another bout.

Boxing fans in the UK will hope that Joshua is right and the fight happens. He is one of the most popular British boxers of all time and, according to YouGov polling, is the 13th most popular contemporary sports personality in the UK.

This popularity converts to high viewing figures for Joshua's fights, such as the 1.57 million people who watched Anthony Joshua v Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019 and the 1.96 million people who watched Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker in 2018. Joshua’s popularity also results in considerable betting interest at sportsbooks and casinos licensed in the UK and UK casinos not on GAMSTOP that are licensed offshore. If the Wilder fight happens, it’s likely to become one of the most viewed Joshua bouts, and sportsbooks will see high levels of betting action.

Eddie Hearn certainly believes that the fight will happen. He said recently that there are offers to stage the fight in a number of locations across the Middle East. However, given the issues that have delayed plans, he believes a date of February or March is most likely for the fight.

Others are less positive about the potential for the fight to happen. Frank Warren has declared he believes a meeting between Joshua and Wilder “will not happen “ and has suggested a fight between Joshua and fellow Brit Daniel Dubois would attract a huge amount of interest. It would certainly be an interesting contest given the controversy that followed Dubois’ defeat by Oleksandr Usyk.

The promising fighter missed out on the opportunity to win the unified heavyweight world titles after being stopped by Usyk. However, Dubois had previously put Usyk down in the fifth round with what was deemed to be a low blow. Dubois and his team believe the punch was legal and have filed a formal appeal with the WBA. This may mean that Dubois would see a fight with Joshua as an unwanted distraction, given his aim to secure a rematch with Usyk.

Other names put forward as potential opponents for Joshua include Carl Froch’s suggestion of Zhilei Zhang and Andy Ruiz Jr, who has been put forward as an option by Tony Bellew. Of course, any recommendations for an alternative opponent will be a moot point if the bout with Willder takes place. Work is ongoing to ensure this happens, but there are still many obstacles to encounter.

If these obstacles prove too difficult to overcome right now, look for names to come to the fore in the coming weeks for a possible substitute Joshua bout, by the end of the year.

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