By Jake Tiernan: Eddie Hearn says Agit Kabayel is possible for Anthony Joshua’s next fight on December 23rd. The 31-year-old German fighter Kabayel holds the EBU heavyweight title and has a notable win over journeyman Derek Chisora in 2017.
Kabayel’s name keeps getting mentioned by Hearn each time the subject of Joshua’s next fight is discussed, which is a hint that he’ll be next. Joshua can win this fight without suffering another setback, but it is unlikely to interest the boxing public in the UK or the US.
The gleam in Hearn’s eyes each time he brings up Kabayel suggests that he’s the gimme-level opponent he wants for AJ’s next fight.
Does Hearn REALLY care about putting on entertaining fights?
What’s interesting is that Hearn bangs on about wanting to put on entertainment for boxing fans to keep them interested in the sport, and then he turns around and matches Joshua against Robert Helenius Jermaine Franklin.
Last night, we saw the old shell of 38-year-old Jorge Linares dragged up from the lightweight division to face Hearn fighter Jack Catterall at 140, which turned out to be the most boring fight that this writer has seen for ages.
If Hearn was really serious about putting on entertaining fights for the fans, he would have had Catterall fight Gary Antuanne Russell, Arnold Barboza Jr., Richardson Hitchins, or Jose Ramirez. Catterall would have lost to all those fighters, and the money fight that Hearn is eager to make with Josh Taylor would be finished forever.
Catterall looked awful against Linares, and it was impossible to imagine him being competitive against Russell, Barboza, Hitchins, or Ramirez.
Hearn says Joshua has fought the top guys in the division and only has Tyson Fury & Deontay Wilder remaining. That’s not true because Joshua hasn’t fought these guys, who would be a significant threat to his sinking career:
- Arslanbek Makhmudov
- Jared Anderson
- Frank Sanchez
- Bakhodir Jalolov
- Filip Hrgovic
- Martin Bakole
Joshua (26-3, 23 KOs) wants to get in a third fight this year and to keep him busy to make sure he’s sharp for nearly next year, and Kabayel is a strong possibility.
There are a lot of fans out there who feel that Hearn is artificially keeping Joshua’s career afloat by matching him against stumblebums like he’d been mostly doing earlier, but it’s now become more noticeable.
Matching Joshua against Kabahyel would be the equivalent of returning him to a much earlier stage of his career, like when he first turned pro in 2013 after his controversial Olympic gold medal in 2012.
It’s pretty clear that Joshua just represents a money-machine fighter and will continue to be protected by Hearn until his cash-out against Tyson Fury next year.
The 38-year-old Deontay Wilder, who clearly has lost interest in the sport, will likely come after Fury in what will surely be Joshua’s final fight of his career.
Kabayel’s best career wins:
Obviously, that’s a weak group of fighters for a twelve-year professional like Kabayel, but that’s clearly why he’s still unbeaten at this stage of his career.
Joshua to fight in December
Gareth A. Davies: “Anthony Joshua, has that progressed through the week for his next outing?” said Gareth to talkSport Boxing.
Eddie Hearn: “No, he’s been in the darkness for a few days.”
Gareth: “That’s right, he paid two grand to be in the dark for four days.”
Hearn: “I actually fancy a go myself. No social media, no stick.”
Gareth: “You’d come out changed man.”
Hearn: “Maybe. But he [Joshua] wants to fight. The fight to make really is the Deontay Wilder fight, but that fight, for many reasons, isn’t happening in January. But we still want to make that fight, and talks are continuing with them with Shelly Finkel to make that fight in March or April.
“He’s got this thing in his head to do three fights in 2023, and I said to him, ‘You’re first fight this year was in April, so you can still get your three fights in.’ He just wants to get back in camp and out to fight. He appreciates that fight won’t be a mega-fight if he fits one in before Deontay Wilder, but that is the focus.
“We are considering him on the 23rd [of December] as well, but we kind of wait to see what happens next week in Saudi Arabia to see if they’re going to come forward on the 23rd.”
Spencer Oliver: “Eddie, what kind of opponents are you looking for, Anthony Joshua? Zhilei Zhang was someone that you mentioned before. Is that someone who is a possibility?”
Kabayel is in the pipeline
Hearn: “I think that’s a good fight. We looked at Zhang before. There was an offer to do that fight in Beijing or to look at that fight in the UK. I think it makes sense. A lot of the guys we talked about before. Filip Hrgovic, Otto Wallin. There’s a lot happening with the IBF at the moment. AJ could be in line for a world title shot for that fight in the new year as well.
“Kabayel has been mentioned. We appreciate that it won’t be a mega-fight, but he’s [Joshua] okay with that. He wants to get back in the ring and keep himself active while he waits for those mega-fights.
“Really, there’s two fights that AJ needs to have before he retires, and that’s Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. For me, he has to have those fights next year, and that’s the plan. What he’s not going to do is be inactive like a lot of these guys.
“If you look at Deontay Wilder. He hasn’t boxed in over a year, and that was a 45-second blowout in his last fight. Andy Ruiz and these kinds of guys, they’re fighting once a year. So, I think if AJ can fight three times in nine months, that’s good for his career.
“Ultimately, what he wants, we want, and the British public wants is the biggest fights out there, and really, he’s fought everyone outside of Wilder & Fury.”