ANTHONY JOSHUA risks a £60m payday against Deontay Wilder by first returning to settle a score with Dillian Whyte.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has struck a deal for Joshua to face Wilder in Saudi Arabia, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
And he previously revealed his budget for the Middle East megafight could be as high as £60million.
But AJ must defeat Whyte first after the pair announced they will face off again on August 12 at the O2 Arena.
Hearn told talkSPORT: “This is wild because AJ scheduled the Wilder fight for December.
“We had meetings with the Saudis last week. Obviously, this is one of the biggest fights in boxing, and he’s wanted to fight in the meantime.
“You know, he worked with Derrick James, he wanted that fight and he insisted it was Dillian Whyte.
“I wasn’t over the moon because I know it’s dangerous. It’s a fight based on emotions, they don’t like each other.”
“You saw what happened at O2 last time. On August 12th it will be an absolute firefight. That’s why it’s so dangerous.”
“They have that Deontay Wilder fight in December, he could have just waited and had a loose fight at the O2 – but he decided to roll the dice.”
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Joshua’s history with Whyte, 35, dates back to their amateur days when he was beaten in a thriller.
But AJ got their revenge in 2015 when the pair was broken in the seventh round and moved back into the pro ranks.
Since then, the two have continued to bicker and eventually struck a deal to end their trilogy once and for all.
But a loss for 33-year-old Joshua would derail his blockbuster fight against 37-year-old Wilder.
Hearn said: “I don’t know how the Whyte fight is going, but we’ve been told categorically that if he loses to Dillian Whyte, the deal that’s on the table isn’t the deal.”
“They didn’t want him to fight Dillian Whyte. It was almost like, ‘Please don’t fight Dillian Whyte.’
“No need. We have this fight in December. But AJ was like, ‘No. I want to fight.’
“If he wins on August 12th he will go into the fight against Deontay Wilder with a lot of momentum and that again adds to his incredible resume.”
“I think he should be commended for wanting to give you a real fight instead of just a short fight until he fights Deontay Wilder – that’s very dangerous.”