Former world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is plotting a return to the ring and Queenslander Demsey McKean is said to be in his sights.
Joshua, the former unified heavyweight champion, is in a peculiar position after a pair of losses to Oleksandr Usyk saw his stock fall dramatically, leaving him to ponder how many years he has left.
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When Joshua lost the rematch to Usyk last August, his immediate chances of fighting for belts vanished. He fell out of the top three rankings of all the sanctioning bodies, dropping to No.5 for the WBO, IBF and WBC and to No.4 with the WBA.
The next phase of his career will undoubtedly see the Brit take on lesser-ranked fighters in stadium events, aimed at squeezing as much money as possible out of the 33-year-old’s career.
The first man on that list appears to be McKean, who is co-promoted by Joshua’s man, Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn, with a bout at London’s O2 Arena being negotiated for April.
McKean is ranked in the top 10 and is unbeaten from 22 professional fights, with 14 knockouts.
His most recent win came against Patrick Korte in October in which he claimed the IBF Intercontinental heavyweight belt.
The Aussie southpaw confirmed discussions with Joshua are underway.
“We are one of the frontrunners for a possible opponent for Anthony Joshua,” he told Sky Sports.
“I could be (the man to retire Joshua) and I am very confident I can do that. But don’t get me wrong, there is still more fights for AJ. If he loses to me, a top-10 heavyweight as well, that shouldn’t be the end.
“People probably don’t give him the credit he deserves, what he has done for the heavyweight game. He has brought a lot of eyes and money into the heavyweight division.
“He is probably the biggest name in boxing, everyone is after him, including me. It is the name to have on your resume. There are still fights to be made and people are still going to pay to watch those fights. But three losses in a row, does he need to keep doing this, he is well set up now?
“He probably still has his doubts, he still doubts himself a lot, I know that. But who wouldn’t when they are at the top, in the limelight and cop a lot of criticism. There are a lot of factors but I have the skills to do that (retire him) for sure.”
McKean said there’s only one hurdle standing in the way of fighting the Brit.
“I feel confident if that fight goes through,” he said.
“The only doubt I have is that he doesn’t want to fight a southpaw.
“It would be a shame. I have been on the brink of some very big fights myself. I have come close to fighting Dillian Whyte as well. I think it is sad that some of the elite boxers in the world pick and choose who they fight. We would not have had this back in the old days.
“Even with Tyson Fury a few years ago, when his fight fell through with Deontay Wilder and he was looking for a last-minute replacement. And again it came down to not wanting to fight a southpaw.
“The world has gone mad, and all these so-called champion boxers don’t want to fight a southpaw. Let’s hope he (Joshua mans up) and fights this time.
“I have been sparring with him for years, I have been in his camp twice. He knows it is going to be a hard fight, by the rounds I give these guys.
“He is a smooth operator, there aren’t too many who move like him. His size is an advantage and disadvantage for him.”
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