Barry Hearn is convinced Anthony Joshua will be a world champion by the end of 2016. The Olympic gold medal winner, 26, extended his professional record to 15-0 with a knockout win over long-time rival Dillian Whyte in December 2015 – and the British boxing promoter has backed Joshua to win a title over the next 12 months.

Joshua is ranked number five in the IBF's heavyweight division, meaning he could soon become the mandatory challenger to the belt stripped from Tyson Fury. The vacant title is set to be contested by Ukraine's Vyacheslav Glazkov and American Charles Martin, but Hearn does not think Joshua will have a long wait until he has a belt of his own.

"Joshua will be world heavyweight champion by the end of 2016. It's just a question of getting him a fight because there isn't a heavyweight out there that can survive Anthony Joshua. Not in the slightest chance," Hearn told Sky Sports.

"This boy is going to be something very special for a very long time. He will hold a version of the world championship. That's not to say that Joshua hasn't got a huge amount of improvement left in him, because he has."

Hearn, 67, thinks Joshua is already established as one of the must-see fighters in the heavyweight division, meaning he will have plenty of attractive-looking fights offered to him over the next 12 months.

He said: "It doesn't matter. The numbers he hit in a British heavyweight title fight earned him four times the amount of money that [WBC heavyweight champion] Deontay Wilder got for his last fight. So it doesn't matter.

"It depends if you're being a purist and a Corinthian, and you start talking about the medals and belts in sport. I've never been like that, my job is to make sure his life changes. That will be very easy with Joshua."

Hearn admitted a money-spinning bout against current champion Tyson Fury is an attractive proposition, but he insisted Joshua is in no rush to make the fight happen. "Of course we'd all like [Joshua] to be unified heavyweight champion of the world," Hearn said. "But there is no rush. When you've got the best, and we've got the best, there is no rush.

"If you rush and make mistakes you might devalue your product so everything has to be analysed. Tyson Fury is a huge fight but there's no rush. The danger is that Fury gets beaten by somebody – that could happen unfortunately because I'm not a big fan of his technique. But if Fury does stay unbeaten then, next summer, that's the biggest fight in British boxing history."