ANTHONY JOSHUA’S next opponent will be announced next week.

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And promoter Eddie Hearn admits he is close to finalising the contracts for AJ’s April 1 comeback.

The 33-year-old Brit has not fought since August’s rematch defeat to Oleksandr Usyk, who also beat him in September 2021.

Joshua’s last victory came over two years ago when he took down Kubrat Pulev.

And Hearn is keen to secure a big-name opponent who can put AJ back on track to fight the likes of Tyson Fury.

There had been talk of a brutal battle against Filip Hrgovic, but he has been ordered to face Andy Ruiz Jr in an IBF eliminator.

Meanwhile, Hearn has also effectively ruled out Otto Wallin and Demsey McKean after revealing AJ does not want to take on another southpaw.

That could leave Jermaine Franklin as the man to fight Joshua on April Fool’s Day, with the American looking to avenge November’s London defeat to Dillian Whyte.

But fans won’t have to wait too long to find out, as Hearn is currently finalising contracts with a plan to confirm the bout next week.

He told Boxing Social: “[Franklin] is definitely in the mix. Demsey McKean is still in the mix.

“The link-up with a new trainer means a southpaw fighter, even though AJ just boxed one of them twice, is not ideal.

“When you look at the future for Anthony Joshua, the future revolves around Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder and Dillian Whyte.

“They’re three orthodox fighters. It is likely that he will face an orthodox fighter next.

“I think Jermaine Franklin is a great fighter. People say ‘it’s definitely Franklin’. Nothing is signed and agreed with.

“But Franklin is coming off a fight where it was very close with Whyte. Some people felt he won that fight.”