David Haye is unlikely to get a lucrative fight with Anthony Joshua in 2016 after the British heavyweight champion's promoter, Eddie Hearn, indicated he is not on his list.
Haye returned to the ring after a three-and-half-year absence on Saturday with a first-round knockout of Australia's Mark de Mori.
It was an impressive comeback, but Hearn said Joshua is looking for a world title this year, and thus Haye is not a valid opponent, per David Anderson in the Mirror:
We’re targeting a world title in 2016 and David doesn’t really help with that cause. It’s a big fight and a big pay-day, but those are being delivered for Anthony naturally anyway. I’m sure if they keep winning, the fight has every chance of happening, but right now the focus is on that world title.
Haye will have to earn a fight with his fellow Brit, and based on Saturday's performance, he could well string the necessary victories together to pique Joshua and Hearn's interest.
It was a big right hand that finished De Mori, who was knocked out with almost a minute remaining in the first round, per broadcaster Dave:
THE KNOCKOUT MOMENT. Stay with us for analysis and more exclusive interviews. #HayeDay https://t.co/cecT6rqOae2016-1-16 22:08:58
Haye said after the fight a clash with Joshua is the reason he has returned to action following a lengthy layoff, per Dave (via Sky Sports):
"A bigger fight is Anthony Joshua. I believe that fight can be made later on in the year. I'm in shape, I'm punching hard. I'm a little bit older. It'll make for a great fight. That's the type of fight I want, that's why I'm back in boxing. It's the big fights, I need that."
It would indeed be a huge fight, Joshua, 26, having done much to reignite the heavyweight division in Britain after 15 knockout victories in a row in his professional career.
Most recently, he beat Dillian Whyte in December to claim the British heavyweight title, and a clash with the 35-year-old Haye would be a blockbuster event.
The Londoner's professional record stands at 27-2, and he held the WBA heavyweight title between 2009 and 2011 before losing to Wladimir Klitschko.
A victory over Joshua would put him firmly back on the boxing map, but 2016 is seemingly not going to be the year in which they meet, so Haye will need to prove himself with further wins against other opponents.