Unbeaten British heavyweight Anthony Joshua will return to the ring on 4 April against American journeyman Jason Gavern, it has been confirmed.
Olympic gold medallist Joshua will face Gavern over eight rounds at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle after recovering from a stress fracture of the back, which forced him to reschedule a potentially tricky bout with Kevin Johnson earlier this year.
The Joshua-Johnson fight is now scheduled to take place in late May, and Joshua will be keen to prove his fitness during a shortened contest with Gavern having not fought at all since an emphatic first-round victory over Michael Sprott in November.
"It's been frustrating being out of action but the injury has totally healed up and I will be firing on all cylinders next Saturday," the 25-year-old said.
"Fans in the north east are mad about sport and I am sure it's going to be a great atmosphere. I plan to put on a show for them."
Promoter Eddie Hearn does not believe that a six-month layoff will have a detrimental impact on Joshua's performance, and is expecting his fighter to deliver another characteristically impressive display.
He said: "It's great to see Anthony return from injury and I'm looking forward to seeing him face Jason in Newcastle.
"It's a nice test on his return, Gavern has plenty of experience but Anthony has plenty of frustration to let out and north east boxing fans can expect an explosive performance in Newcastle next week."
Gavern, who has won 24 of his 49 professional contests to date and advanced to the final of Prizefighter in 2013, faces the powerful Joshua on the back of two defeats against Zhang Junlong and Gerald Washington respectively.
His last victory came against Hassan Lee in October 2014 and he is likely to have to produce the outstanding performance of his long career if he is to avoid suffering a similar fate to Joshua's 10 previous professional opponents, none of whom has lasted beyond the third round.