Eddie Hearn has told William Hill that boxing fans can expect a different Anthony Joshua this year as the heavyweight champion prepares for the biggest year of his career ahead of a London homecoming against Kubrat Pulev and being lined up to face the winner of Fury v Wilder. 

The heavyweight world champion was desperate to fight back in the city where he built his reputation and career, and Hearn admits there’s a different type of pressure on the Watford-born brawler after successful bouts abroad.

“Anthony had a great year last year in many ways. He fought in Madison Square Garden in New York and then in Saudi Arabia, but now he’s back at Spurs on June 20 in a great stadium,” Hearn told William Hill.

“It’s going to be an instant sell-out and great to see him back. I’m feeling nervous for him as it’s a big homecoming which comes with pressure. Saudi was low key where he was removed from that pressure and it worked quite well for him. Now people will say ‘let’s see the old AJ and the big knockouts.’ But I think we’ll see a great fight against Pulev.”

While AJ must see off the challenge from Bulgarian Pulev, the big question in the sport right now is when Joshua will face the winner of Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury.

“Fury-Wilder is still a big fight,” said Hearn. “Any fight that Wilder is involved in means anything can happen, but it was so one-sided.

“But there are bigger problems in this situation if you’re Fury and you’ve put in the performance of a career and won the WBC heavyweight belt, because you want more money in a rematch. That probably won’t happen because there won’t be as much money generated so he’s not going to be happy.

“The conversations I’ve had with Bob Arum in the last 48 hours have been pretty good in the sense of doing a deal between the winner of these next two fights to take place in November/December. We’re willing to do that deal with Wilder just in case he beats Fury in a rematch too.”

While Hearn is desperate to see the highly anticipated fight of Fury vs Joshua happen, he knows from experience that looking too far ahead can be dangerous in boxing.

“We can’t afford to take our eyes off the ball from AJ’s side with Pulev,” Hearn said. “Bob Arum is convinced Pulev will knock AJ out. People look at the Andy Ruiz fight and they think there’s a weak link there in AJ. I think he’s going to show you something very different this year. He’s ready to put on a real performance at Spurs on June 20.

Elsewhere in the heavyweight division, Hearn spoke of the challenges Dillian Whyte could face in coming up against Alexander Povetkin, who he has suggested might be the best technical fighter the Body Snatcher will have ever faced.

“He has to focus,” Hearn said. “He’s the mandatory challenge to Tyson Fury, but a mess-up could happen against Povetkin. Povetkin is probably the most technically sound fighter Dillian Whyte has fought in his career so far. I put this fighter right up there with the best pedigree he’s ever fought.”

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