ANTHONY JOSHUA could return in the summer in a warm-up fight to prepare for Deontay Wilder in December.

Joshua beat Jermaine Franklin in his April comeback in what Eddie Hearn hoped would be the first in a trio bouts in 2023.

But that plan faced the KO when organisers in Saudi Arabia launched negotiations for AJ to face Wilder in December.

Hearn flew into Riyadh for talks and revealed all parties are on board for the blockbuster bout.

But with Joshua, 33, having fought just once under his trainer Derrick James, the promoter wants to give the pair more opportunity to gel.

So AJ could take an interim fight before his end of year clash with Wilder in the Middle East.


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Hearn told Boxing Social: “We’re being told that Wilder’s in.

"And, subject to finalising some of the terms, we’re in. So, in his mind, he’s fighting Deontay Wilder in December.

"Once that gets papered, we then work backwards to the end of July or first week of August.

“I want him to fight. I think he wants to fight. I think Derrick James wants him to fight.

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"So we’ve just to pick the right opponent, because what it is is really a preparation for the [Wilder] fight.”


Joshua was in line to rematch Dillian Whyte, 34, in July but talks with Wilder, 37, could see the all-British bout axed.

It remains to be seen if AJ will in fact box once more before the Saudi showdown as Hearn focuses on talks in the desert.

He said:“My priority right now is secure the Deontay Wilder fight, and every other decision will stem off that.”

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