Unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will stage his next two fights at Wembley Stadium with a defence of his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO belts taking place in September.
Joshua has a history of selling out huge fights, with the 28-year-old setting a post-war attendance record of 90,000 at Wembley for his 11th-round stoppage of Wladimir Klitschko in April 2017.
He has since twice filled the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, defending his belts against Carlos Takam in October before taking Joseph Parker’s WBO belt in March – with the two events in the Welsh capital pulling in over 150,000 fans.
“I am returning to Wembley after two mega fights in Cardiff,” said Joshua, announcing his September 22 return to the capital, with another fight scheduled for April 13 next year.
“I want to thank the supporters from Wales and Great Britain and also the people of London for patiently awaiting my return.
“Being north London born and raised it is in my blood. The opportunity to fight in such an iconic stadium is normally a once in career opportunity, so to be given the chance to fight there again is amazing. Wembley just added a fourth lion to the den.”
An announcement on the opponent for Joshua’s clash in September will be made next week.
However, plans are already well under way with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan working closely with Transport for London, who will postpone planned engineering works on the two dates and provide additional staff in order to cope with another anticipated sell-out.
“I’m extremely honoured to get the opportunity to promote two more shows at the national stadium and delighted for British fight fans that Anthony has made this commitment to them,” said promoter Eddie Hearn, who claimed on Twitter capacity could be increased to 100,000 for next April’s fight.
“I don’t think anyone will forget that night of April 29 against Klitschko and we plan to bring two more dramatic events to Wembley Stadium in September and April.”
The Britain star will take on Vargas in Birmingham in an attempt to get a world title fight before the year ends.
Khan had destroyed Phil Lo Freco in 39 seconds when he returned to fight in April after a gap of two years.
Speaking during the announcement of the bout, Khan said: “One of my aims this year was to be as active as possible so I’m very happy to get back in the ring again so soon against Samuel Vargas.
“Vargas is a tough and well-schooled fighter who has shared the ring with some top welterweights including Danny Garcia and Errol Spence Jr.
Vargas ended up with him on the wrong end of a knockout against both Gracia and Spence.
— Amir Khan (@amirkingkhan) June 28, 2018
“I have to get past Vargas before looking at the biggest challenges going forward. I’m not going to be taking Vargas lightly because I know he will be coming with everything on September 8.”
Meanwhile Vargas’ last fight had ended in a draw with Mauro Godoy in February and he has promised to give Khan a better fight than Lo Greco.
“I have been granted more than enough time to properly prepare for Amir and you will see the best Samuel Vargas to date,” said the 29-year old.
“Mark my words, we might both be from the same city and county but I am nothing like Phil Lo Greco that’s a guarantee – I’m going to give Amir hell.”
Anthony Joshua has been given a 24-hour deadline to sign to fight Russian Alexander Povetkin or face being stripped of a portion of his world heavyweight title.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has been negotiating for a unification bout with WBC titlist Deontay Wilder but the WBA has lost patience and wants him to face its own mandatory challenger.
WBA president Gilberto Mendoza said in a statement: “Today the WBA requested an answer from Anthony Joshua’s team regarding his fight with the mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin.
“The WBA have allowed over a month extension to negotiations with Povetkin and also ongoing discussions with Deontay Wilder.
“It appears the Wilder team have not returned the contract for the fight and therefore we are requesting a date for the Joshua versus Povetkin fight with immediate effect.”
The demand will not cause Joshua’s team too many issues given negotiations with the Wilder camp appear to be deadlocked and former champion
Povetkin represents the next-best bet for a stadium-filling autumn bout.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn had indicated he was close to agreeing a deal with Wilder, but the American’s team claim to be holding out for “clarifications”.
Povetkin, who held the WBA’s ‘regular’ title between 2011 and 2013, beat Briton David Price in his last fight in March on the undercard of Joshua’s win over Joseph Parker in Cardiff.
The Principality Stadium would be favourite to host the prospective contest between Joshua and Povetkin, confirmation of which would delay a clash with Wilder until at least next year.