Anthony Joshua should be prioritising the biggest fights and not preserving his status as the challenger to the winner of the rematch between Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury, according to Frank Warren.

Joshua is on course to fight the winner of the rematch that is expected to unfold on December 21, but before then he will fight at Wembley Stadium, on September 21, against an opponent who is to be confirmed.

Daniel Dubois’ recent stoppage victory over Filip Hrgovic means that he has come to be seen as the opponent who would represent the most dangerous Joshua could fight and on an occasion that – given it would be between two heavy-handed British heavyweights – would also prove the biggest.

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has regardless also spoken of Joseph Parker and Zhilei Zhang as potential alternatives, and of how their decision could be influenced over whether Usyk is stripped of his title by the IBF. 

Similarly recently Dubois’ trainer Don Charles said that Hearn and Joshua need to “grow a pair and step up” by agreeing to a fight that is increasingly in demand. Yet if Joshua’s ambition is to dethrone Usyk or Fury as the world’s leading heavyweight, Charles will regardless know that it remains possible that he will favour Parker or Zhang.

“He’s a former world champion,” Warren, Dubois’ promoter, said of the 34-year-old Joshua. “You can’t look at it like that. He’s not on the way up. Have the fight – the fight that means the most. That’s where we are.

“He’s been there. He’s done it. He’s fought the best. Daniel’s the young guy on the way up, and, let’s get it right – if it takes place they’ve got ‘AJ’ 8-1 on and 11-2 against our man. That’s how they see it. 

“It’s a great fight for the Brits. Why wouldn’t you do it? But we’ll see what happens.

“Daniel showed [against Hrgovic] he takes a shot, and he showed that he’s game. He showed the power he’s got. [Joshua] was sitting ringside – that’s gonna be his choice. I can’t force AJ to do anything. At the end of the day he’s going to do what he wants to do, but it’s got to be a commercial fight, and the biggest commercial fight there is two Brits fighting each other. Two big punchers. Everybody wants to see that.”

The 26-year-old Dubois’ reputation reached a new high with victory over Hrgovic, which followed another over Jarrell Miller in the aftermath of the defeat by Oleksandr Usyk when, as with his defeat by Joe Joyce in 2020, there were observers who insisted he had quit. 

He had started working with Charles ahead of the fight with Usyk after a period of instability in which, after the defeat by Joyce, he experimented with other trainers, and Warren said: “A lot of the criticism come from ex-professionals, when he had the fight with Joyce. It was stupid. He was really struggling with his eye [Dubois suffered a fractured orbital socket], and thankfully he did what he did, because if he hadn’t he wouldn’t be fighting today. He was in front on two of the judges’ cards. He only had to stand up – he’d have won the fight. 

“He gave Usyk his toughest fight at heavyweight, up until he fought Tyson, and had him in trouble. The fact of the matter is he’s only 26. He’s learned. He was a baby as a heavyweight – he’s matured now. He’s strong, and he showed that against a guy who really thought that he would beat him mentally; who thought he was a quitter. He showed he wasn’t. Not only did he beat him, he bashed him up and he was badly cut. Daniel come out without a mark on him – although he got caught with some good shots – and he showed that he’s committed. He showed what he’s all about.

“He’s now the interim champion with the IBF. The IBF will decide what they’re gonna do with their title, and we’ll go from there. Irrespective of that, Wembley Stadium needs a main event. It needs a real strong main event, and there is nothing stronger in this country – because Tyson’s committed to fighting on the 21st of December in the rematch against Usyk – than that fight.

“I’ve been a believer all the way along. I said he’d stop [Hrgovic], and that’s what happened.

“Don deserves a lot of credit, as does [former trainer] Martin Bowers – Martin done a great job with him. They’re both excellent trainers, and he’s moved on and he’s with Don and Don’s doing a fabulous job. They’re very good, and I’ve a lot of respect for them, and I’m pleased for Don. 

“Don’s done a real good job and got him focused, and he’s obviously matured a lot. He’s not the same guy he was two, three, four years ago. He’s maturing as a person and as a fighter.”