Who Will Anthony Joshua Fight Next? The Clock is Ticking


The fight slated for this coming Saturday (Aug. 12) at the O2 Arena in London between Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte would have been a rubber match of sorts. Whyte defeated Joshua in the amateurs. That was back in 2009. Joshua returned the favor in 2015, stopping the “Bodysnatcher” in the seventh round after a few anxious moments.

That match-up died today. An adverse finding turned up in Whyte’s VADA test and he was disqualified. According to various reports, however, Anthony Joshua will still compete on Aug. 12 if promoter Eddie Hearn can find a suitable opponent at this late hour.

Hearn is understandably reluctant to scratch the entire card which included a 12-round contest between undefeated heavyweights Filip Hrgovic and Demsey McKean, plus appearances by the immensely popular Johnny “Romford Bull” Fisher, by Manchester’s 12-0 Campbell Hatton, the son of former two-division title-holder Ricky Hatton, and by the well-known heavyweight campaigner Derek Chisora who is matched against U.S. import Gerald Washington.

The easiest road for Hearn would be to replace Dillian Whyte with one of the other heavyweights on the card – Hrgovic, McKean, Chisora, or Washington, but there would be a tremendous clamor for refunds if he chose the 39-year-old Chisora, who has lost four of his last five, or, heaven forbid, the unexceptional 41-year-old Washington who has been stopped five times.

If the fans could make the pick, Hrgovic (15-0, 12 KOs) would get the nod in a landslide – he would bring more to the table than Dillian Whyte – but that isn’t going to happen. Hearn doesn’t want Joshua to lose, and the six-foot-six Croatian, ranked #1 by the IBF, would likely be favored. That leaves the Australian, McKean (22-0, 14 KOs) who looks very beatable, notwithstanding the fact that he is a southpaw. The roadblock here, however, is that bumping McKean into the main event would likely cost Hearn a pretty penny in step-aside money to Hrgovic and he’s been down that road before.

Among the fighters who were quick to throw their hat in the ring is Otto Wallin who has been treading water since losing a unanimous decision to Tyson Fury in 2019.

This match makes a lot of sense. Wallin is promoted by Dmitriy Salita who has a history with Eddie Hearn. Salita brought Jermaine Franklin to England twice, for Matchroom-promoted fights with Whyte and Joshua. The Matchroom honcho had some input into Salita’s last promotion, a June fight in Detroit featuring Claressa Shields that was livestreamed on DAZN. Moreover, Salita had preliminary discussions with Hearn regarding a Joshua-Wallin fight back in December.

Wallin (25-1, 16 KOs) has some drawbacks, however, Foremost, the 32-year-old Swede is a southpaw, as is Oleksandr Usyk who boxed rings around Anthony Joshua twice. Also, he has a style that make an opponent look bad even when that opponent is winning. Fury overcame a very nasty cut to conquer Wallin by scores of 118-110, 117-111, and 116-112, but in truth, Wallin made the Gypsy King look ordinary.

Other names that have been bandied around are Agit Kabayal, Martin Bakole, and Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, and to that list we would throw out the name Michael Hunter. Chances are that when you read this, Eddie Hearn will have already found his man or will have pulled the plug on the entire show.

As for Dillian Whyte, he predictably wailed that he is the victim here. "I can confirm without a shadow of a doubt that I have not taken the reported substance, in this camp or at any point in my life," said Whyte on his social media platform. "I am completely innocent and ask to be given the time to go through the process of proving this without anybody jumping to conclusions or trial by media.”

Those with no sympathy for Whyte note that he is a serial offender. In 2012, the British boxer served a suspension when the banned substance methylhexaneamine was found in his system. In 2016, several days before his match with Oscar Rivas, it came out that he had tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone in a test administered by the UK anti-doping agency, but the British Boxing Board of Control allowed the fight to go forward.