Joshua could fight Wilder or Joyce – Hearn

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Venue: Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham Date: Saturday, 12 March
Coverage: Live coverage on BBC Radio 5 Live and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app from 22:00 GMT

Anthony Joshua is prepared to fight heavyweights Deontay Wilder or Joe Joyce in an “interim bout” with unified champion Oleksandr Usyk currently in Ukraine.

Usyk, 35, is in his native country helping the war effort against Russia and is unlikely to fight Joshua in their rematch this summer.

Promoter Eddie Hearn explained the situation on the 5 Live Boxing podcast, saying: “If we can’t fight him in May or early June, we would like an interim fight before we go into the Usyk fight.

“AJ’s idea of an interim bout is very different to mine. An interim bout while you’re waiting should be a nice little stroll in the park.

“He’s messaging me saying: ‘What about Wilder? What about Otto Wallin? What about Luis Ortiz? What about Joe Joyce?’

“But this is AJ all over. He’s like a caged lion.”

Usyk has been a visible figure for Ukraine alongside fellow boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko and former world champions Vitali Klitschko and Wladimir Klitschko.

Joshua, 32, has not fought since September when he lost his WBA (Super), IBF and WBO world titles to Usyk and Hearn said that although there were several options, his fighter was not interested in an “easy” fight.

“The most important thing is he rematches Oleksandr Usyk. He’s turned down a lot of money not to and he’s not about to let that opportunity go,” added Hearn.

“I think now’s the time to have an easy touch. He doesn’t. He wants to prepare. Maybe Ortiz, maybe Wilder in that southpaw gearing him up for Usyk. I expect if he does have an interim, knowing Anthony Joshua, it’ll be a real fight.”

Conlan feeling the pressure?

Michael Conlan challenges for his first world title this Saturday in Nottingham against local boy Leigh Wood.

Wood, 33, was one of 2021’s surprise packages as he upset Xu Can to claim the WBA (Regular) title in July and has been rewarded with a dream homecoming.

Conlan, 30, has been made to wait for his world title opportunity since turning pro in 2017 and Wood is convinced the Belfast boxer is nervous.

“Mick’s been up and down,” he said. “I see straight through that confidence. I see straight through it. I think he’s overconfident, trying to convince everyone he’s confident. If you’re so confident, sit down, smile, shut up, go get the job done on Saturday night, like myself.”

Conlan, who won a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics, dismissed Wood’s assessment of his mood – insisting he has faced better fighters in his career.

“I’ve no need to talk any nonsense,” said Conlan. “They don’t understand the journey and that’s all it is. If the were able to do it then would have done it.

“The simple matter of the fact is they weren’t. It doesn’t matter. They can think whatever they want to think.”

He added: “I’ve had more pressure than this. I’ve been under more scrutiny than when I faced better fighters than this and I know my ability.”

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