By George Sessions, PA
Anthony Joshua has “unfinished business” in America according to promoter Eddie Hearn but finally getting the Tyson Fury fight on remains his priority for 2023.
The former two-time world heavyweight champion begins his comeback trail on Saturday when he faces Jermaine Franklin at O2 Arena in London.
Joshua will be eyeing a first victory since 2020 and if victorious, the rewards could be great with Fury, Deontay Wilder and old rival Dillian Whyte all viable options in the coming months.
All eyes on the main man 📸 @anthonyjoshua #JoshuaFranklin pic.twitter.com/d4oQoOgkmd
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) March 27, 2023
While Hearn retains a degree of confidence that a Battle of Britain with Fury could get made for late summer, he accepted the United States market may be tapped into again after Dallas-based Joshua’s only previous appearance out there resulted in a shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 2019.
“You could say he lives there now, he trains there and I think there is a little bit of unfinished business in America,” Hearn told the PA news agency from Monday’s launch party at art’otel by Battersea Power Station.
“The experience of Madison Square Garden was unbelievable but when you look at the fights out there, it is only the Wilder fight that could appeal to the US market in my opinion.
“We’ll see what happens on Saturday but for me I would like to make the Fury fight if he wins.
“Neither guy would have a fight, the politics would be gone and it might be a chance to get it made, but we’ve been there before so we’ll see what happens on Saturday.”
Hearn acknowledged Joshua (24-3, 22KOs) “loves” fighting in the UK and especially at O2 Arena, where he will return to fight for the first time since 2016 this weekend.
Seven years ago the Finchley boxer had just started his run of 12 consecutive world title fights, but no belts are on the line for what has been dubbed a new dawn for the 33-year-old.
Matchroom and DAZN chief Hearn conceded to feeling nerves ahead of a bout with 29-year-old American Franklin (21-1, 14KOs), who lost narrowly to Whyte in November on points.
Hearn added: “I’m not as calm as AJ but it’s a massive fight. We’re in a position now where it is must-win.
“You can dress it up and say there is less pressure, no belts but ultimately if he doesn’t win there will never be another belt, so that’s the aim.
“To put himself back in a position to fight for the world heavyweight title and to do that he must win on Saturday.
“(Trainer) Derrick James has done a lot of work with him, so we’ll see an aggressive Anthony Joshua and a smart Anthony Joshua.
“If he lets Franklin get confident, it is going to be a very dangerous fight, so he must hurt him early.”