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Barry Hearn plans China defence for Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua
Image: Anthony Joshua will return to the ring next month as champion

Anthony Joshua could defend his IBF world heavyweight title in the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing under ambitious plans being made by promoter Barry Hearn.

Hearn has confirmed he is in talks with Chinese officials over staging a bout involving the 26-year-old, who ripped his portion of the crown from American Charles Martin last month.

The head of the Matchroom organisation with whom Joshua signed after winning gold at the 2012 Olympics, said taking Joshua to China is part of his plan to turn him into a global superstar.

Barry Hearn, the Chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association holds a press conference on day three
Image: Barry Hearn believes Joshua has the potential to sell out the 91,000-capacity Birds Nest Stadium

"When you plan someone's career like Joshua you tend to plan in advance and I think we're two years away from saying we can sell out the Bird's Nest in China," said Hearn.

"I think Joshua's going to be a global figure, and therefore I've got to give him a global platform. I was in Shanghai last week and we were talking. As soon as you show people pictures of Joshua knocking someone out, they get excited."

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Who is Dominic Breazeale?

Find out more about Anthony Joshua's world title challenger

Joshua will make the first defence of his title against another American, Dominic Breazeale, in London next month, which is likely to raise anticipation for a prospective unification bout with Tyson Fury.

But Hearn said he hoped a prospective bout in China could involve 2008 Olympic silver medallist Zhang Zhilei, who has built an unbeaten professional record of eight fights since basing himself in Las Vegas.

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Zhang Zhilei (r) in action against Juan Goode in Las Vegas last November
Image: Zhang Zhilei (r) could be a future opponent for fellow Olympian Anthony Joshua

"He's a heavyweight who is almost 7ft tall and we could do it with a pay-per-view audience of tens of millions of Chinese people watching it," added Hearn.

"Sometimes these things don't happen because people get beaten, but our job is about creating these kinds of moments."

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