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.”
It was a tale of two fights, both parts equally as fascinating as the other.
Badou Jack failed to rip the WBC light heavyweight title from the waist of long-time champion Adonis Stevenson, but he certainly came close as the pair fought to a majority draw last month.
It was the second time Jack was forced to accept a draw in a major title fight having suffered the same fate against Briton’s James DeGale in January 2017.
The 34-year-old came on strong in the second-half of the clash having been initially outworked by the Haitian-Canadian and looked like he might pinch it on the scorecards.
Not to be, though, as the judges in Montreal scored the bout 114-114 x2 and 115-113 for Jack.
Naturally, the Muslim boxer wants another crack at the champion and after his enthralling and entertaining battle, he landed in Dubai to sit down for a chat and talk all things boxing and more.
AR: I believe you’ve been a lot of charity work of late, can you tell us more about that?
BJ: “We started the Badou Jack foundation so we’ve been doing some stuff in Jordan and Gambia and we’re going to continue to work across the world.
“We want to give kids a fighting chance whether it be helping them with food, books, boxing, anything.
“You can’t box forever so you’ve got to start looking to the future.”
AR: When you think back to the images of your fight with Stevenson, what do you make of it now?
BJ: “I thought I won the fight. I thought I was landing the cleaner punches, I was hurting him more than he was hurting me.
“Maybe I started a little slow but he’s dangerous so you’ve got to be careful in the beginning.
“He’s explosive but I know how to break a guy down so I knew early on that eventually I would break him down.
“With a guy who is so explosive, you don’t have to go in there and fight fire with fire, come out swinging from the first round.
“I took my time, my corner kept telling me to patient, knowing that I would break him down over 12 rounds.
“I knew I could beat him up, and that’s what I did. Maybe it was a little too late but I still thought I won the fight.
“It wasn’t as clear as the DeGale fight but I did enough.”
AR: Did you feel like there was any similarities between this fight and your other big draw with James DeGale?
BJ: “I’m supposed to have DeGale’s belt to be unified super-middleweight champion and I’m supposed to be a two-division light-heavyweight champion now but it’s God’s plan.
“We’ll come back stronger next time and finish him.
“He looked good a year ago, but he’s never fought a fighter like me. He looked good against Fonfara who stood right in front of him but it’s a little different when you fight a world-class boxer.
“I’m not saying Fonfara isn’t a good fighter but he’s not on my level. Adonis showed his toughness so you have to give him credit. In the 12th round, he could barely stand up so I’m looking forward to the rematch.
“He caught me with some good bodyshots, in the 10th round I was maybe feeling a little overconfident because I was beating him up, he was bleeding and he was gassing but then he caught me right on the beltline with a good shot.
“I just sucked it up and came back. It hurt me a little bit, but it wasn’t that bad.
“I like to fight on the inside but I didn’t get much opportunity to do that. I was warned for a low blow but it was right on the beltline, he had his shorts so high you couldn’t even see his belly button.”
AR: You said after the fight that you think you’re maybe getting bad decisions because of people being envious of your promoter Floyd Mayweather?
BJ: “Somebody asked me why I have so many bulls*** decisions and I said it could be because of that (Floyd in his corner). I don’t know but people are jealous of Floyd so maybe that plays apart.
“Him saying he wanted only Canadian judges, that’s basically acknowledging I’d have been robbed even worse.
“No judge had him winning. In the rematch, we won’t need any judges.
“I have a great trainer in Lou Del Valle so I listen him first of all but Floyd gave me some good instructions from outside. He hasn’t been in the training camp so he doesn’t know what specifically we’ve been working on, but he’s one of the best ever and he gave me some good advice.
“He told me to take my time and he was going to let me know when he was tired. It’s not just ringside, he’s helped me to be smart with my money and he’s been great to my career, has given me some big fights and says he’s going to continue to do that.
“He takes care of a lot of people, he does a lot of charity but he doesn’t talk about and it’s not in the media. He does a lot of good things for a lot of people.
“I haven’t seen him train but I go in the mornings for my camp. We are practically neighbours because we live on the same street so I see him pretty often.”
AR: Do you ever just pop round for dinner?
BJ: “Yeah sometimes.” (laughing)
AR: Could you imagine him being tempted back into the ring?
BJ: “I think he’s done but you can never say never with him, money talks.”
AR: When are you hoping to get your shot at Stevenson?
BJ: “He said he wants the fight. I’ve got a great promoter so hopefully they can put it together. Two or three months I’m ready to go again.
“Oleksandr Gvozdyk is an unknown and there’s no money in that fight. He’d rather fight me because it will be a much bigger fight, especially because the first was so good.
“Maybe we can do it here. Dubai has never had a title fight so I would love to fight here. Canada maybe? He can’t come to the States because I heard he has a criminal record but I would love to fight anywhere.
“Dubai, Sweden, UK or maybe even Canada again.
“I haven’t fought in Sweden since 2010. I’ve got a lot of fans in the UK, great support, they always sell out arenas there.
“I would love to fight here, we’re talking to a few people but let’s see what happens. A Muslim champion fighting in a Muslim country, that would be great.”
AR: When we look at your boxing resume, it’s surely one of the best in the sport right now?
BJ: “When they talk about P4P it’s a popularity contest so of course fighters like GGG and Canelo are going to be above me but if you look at the guys I’ve fought, I’ve faced some tough guys.
“I feel like I’m still learning, still getting better and with each fight I keep improving. I gave up a couple of rounds against Adonis but other than that I feel great.
“I’m going to be 35 in October but I still feel young. I take it each fight at a time, the thing with this sport is that I can age quick in one fight, but maybe I’ve got 10 more or five more years.
“Even though I’ve had tough fights, I don’t take a lot of punishment. Look at De Gale after our fight, he’s not been the same fighter since. Stevenson might not be the same fighter either, let’s see.
“Once I feel like I’m on the decline, I’ll retire but right now I’m still learning and getting better.”
Check out the full interview with Jack in the clip above
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.”