Promoters Matchroom plan to stage the first defence of Anthony Joshua’s reign as IBF heavyweight champion at Wembley Stadium on July 9 — the same night Tyson Fury is scheduled to fight Wladimir Klitschko.
The 26-year-old clinically stopped defending champion Charles Martin in the second round at London’s 02 Arena on Saturday, just six miles from where he won his Olympic gold medal at the 2012 Games.
There is a danger, however, that his first title defence could be overshadowed by WBA and WBO champion Fury’s rematch with Klitschko.
Joshua’s challenger will almost certainly not be as decorated or seasoned as Klitschko and the weekend of July 9 and 10 is already packed with top-level sport, with the Wimbledon singles finals, the Euro 2016 final, the British Formula One Grand Prix and the UFC 200 rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz all taking place over those two days.
“July, it was always going to be the ninth,” said Eddie Hearn, when asked of his plans for Joshua’s first title defence. “We’ll have to take a look at the top 15 (of the IBF rankings), a lot of the guys are taken up (by fights that have already been arranged).
“If he’s ready, I don’t see why we can’t get back early July. That’s the plan. That was why Sky turned down the Fury-Klitschko fight (which will be on BoxNation) — they see AJ as the future. The plan would be to build AJ as a pay-per-view fighter in America.”
Though he showed no apparent vulnerability to fighting a southpaw for the first time in his professional career — Saturday fight’s was only Joshua’s 16th bout in the paid ranks — the swift and destructive nature of the finish meant he was unable to demonstrate if he had learned from the mistakes made in his previous fight with Dillian Whyte.
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