AJ may need to lower expectations as Joe Joyce continues to make a name for himself

Anthony Joshua

Recent comments from promoter Eddie Hearn claim Anthony Joshua is ready to step in and fight Tyson Fury should his heavyweight unification fight with Oleksandr Usyk not take place in a few months. While Hearn and AJ try to engineer an opening for a world title fight, they might need to start keeping a closer eye on Joe Joyce. The London fighter is fast making a name for himself; pretty soon Joyce may be a more viable opponent for Fury.

Joshua is to return to the ring at the start of April

Joshua himself is scheduled to return to the ring when he fights Jermaine Franklin in London at the O2 Arena. AJ wouldn’t be able to fight again at the end of the month (when Fury is supposed to be fighting Usyk), a point also made by Hearn in his comments. The promoter instead suggested a date for Fury vs AJ later in the summer.

Are Hearn’s comments genuine? Or is he merely attempting to get under Fury’s skin? Why would the current heavyweight champion wait a few extra weeks to fight Joshua if the Usyk fight falls through?

Fury is, after all, the champion, and one of the issues between the Fury and Joshua camps seems to have been the latter’s reluctance to accept he no longer calls the shots.

The figure of Joe Joyce is lurking on the horizon

A far bigger problem is emerging for both Hearn and Joshua: Joe Joyce.

Joyce is next due in the ring in mid-April, a couple of weeks after Joshua’s return.

The Londoner is taking on Zhilei Zhang, in a bout he is expected to win comfortably. In the latest odds for a bet on boxing, Joyce is -900, and Zhang is +500.

These boxing odds show how strong a betting favorite Joyce is to win. Another convincing win for Joyce will only improve his stock on the world stage and make a fight with Fury all the more likely.

Joyce is not yet a household name in the UK like Joshua, but he’s gradually becoming better known. Hearn and Joshua can’t keep using AJ’s clout as leverage when trying to negotiate a fight for much longer.

Depending on how Tyson Fury feels about things could also have a bearing on any future fight. Fury has already dismissed Hearn, saying he is unable to do business with the promoter. We all know that can quickly change, but Fury is also the type of character who may stick to his beliefs, and may not be bluffing here.

Joyce seems to be the man emerging, and with Deontay Wilder now back on the scene, AJ may need to lower his expectations away from world title showdowns and accept heโ€™s not the big draw he once was.

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