Anthony Joshua is being lined up to face Jarrell Miller rather than Deontay Wilder in his next fight despite his ambition of becoming the undisputed heavyweight world champion.
The 28-year-old faces Joseph Parker in Cardiff on 31 March in an attempt to add the New Zealander's WBO title to his WBA and IBF straps, which he has held since beating Wladimir Klitschko last year.
Victory for the Olympic gold medallist would seemingly put him collision course for a meeting with Deontay Wilder – who faces Luis Ortiz on 3 March – the WBC champion and holder of the only remaining belt in boxing's blue riband division.
One significant obstacle between Joshua and Wilder clashing in another unification bout is the American's financial demands, with the unbeaten 'Bronze Bomber' wanting a 50-50 split with the Briton.
Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn has continually criticised those demands and has attacked the stance as "fantasy". The Matchroom chief is therefore lining up an alternative opponent for his main client with 29-year-old Miller, who faces Johanna Duhaupas in April, among the contenders.
"He's the guy," Hearn said, according to Boxing Scene. "When you look at the promotion and an American to fight in [his] backyard, Jarrell Miller is absolutely spot on. But I think him against Duhaupas is a complete 50-50 [fight], in terms of his recent performances.
"I didn't think [Miller] was at his best against [Mariusz] Wach. But at the same time, it's hard to look great against Wach. And he stopped Wach as well, so that was an impressive victory.
"But this is the fight, for me, where I think Jarrell Miller really stakes his claim to challenge for the world heavyweight title. And while Deontay Wilder continues to live at a street address on 'Fantasy Island,' this is the fight that we will look to make in August."
Miller – whose clash with Frenchman Duhaupas will appear on the undercard of Daniel Jacobs vs Maciej Suleki - has 20 wins from his 21 professional bouts, though his record includes few recognised names from the heavyweight division.
With Joshua's last two fights having been broadcast by Showtime his profile in the United States is beginning to grow, with Hearn planning to take the 28-year-old across the pond at some stage this year.
That maiden appearance in the USA could yet come against Miller, with a date in August at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn having already been identified.
"And I'm already in talks with Brett Yormark [Barclays Center chief-executive], that all being well on March 31st, New York is the venue for Anthony Joshua's next fight. If that's not against Deontay Wilder, Jarrell Miller will be the guy if he can get the win against Duhapuas.
"That's the plan. And again, we have to win on March 31st. And AJ's not even thinking about August. It's not like we're overlooking Parker. It's my job to plan the future, and the future is a fight in America in 2018."
He added: "Like I said, if it's not Deontay Wilder, which I can't see that fight happening anytime immediately, Jarrell is the guy.
"For Anthony Joshua to come to Brooklyn, and fight a kid out of Brooklyn for the world heavyweight title, that's a big fight. But we need the excuse from Jarrell for people to say, 'That's a good fight.' And that will come with a dominant victory against Duhaupas, if he can get it. ... I think it's a very tough fight for Jarrell Miller. But if he can look good and he can win, I'm ready to give him a shot."