Hunter fights Brazilian Fabio Maldonado this weekend in Washington in his fifth bout since moving up to heavyweight.
The Bounty, as per his moniker, is unbeaten above 200lb and was close to taking on Joshua next week in the three-belt world heavyweight champion’s stateside debut.
However, event promoter Eddie Hearn decided to choose Andy Ruiz Jr following Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller’s omission through failed drugs tests.
At 30 years old, Hunter’s 16-1 record seems slightly behind his years but the Californian, who only turned pro six years ago, has plotted a slow path to superstardom.
Not yet ranked in the top 10 with any governing body, Hunter needs a couple more wins under his belt in order to contend for one.
But he has no doubt that is an inevitability he will reach at his own pace, having deserved his shot.
“Eventually once I keep winning and getting better, eventually I’m just going to rise to the top on my own,” Hunter told Sky Sports.
“To get [a shot at Joshua] like the way I was going to get it, with the mishap of the ‘Big Baby’ situation, I don’t think I’ll get that opportunity again.
“If I do get it, it will be because I earned it, and I took it from them.”
Hunter will only continue to chase Joshua if the WBA-IBF-WBO titlist retains his titles, which will next be put to the test on June 1 at Madison Square Garden.
Andy Ruiz Jr was drafted in for Miller and, despite his rotund physique, the Mexican is a valid contender in the eyes of Hunter, who never received an offer to occupy the right side of the MSG bill.
“They were close to using me, because they couldn’t find the right representative,” Hunter added.
“I think I would have been the right representative, but they found somebody better suited, Andy Ruiz.
“He’s no slouch and he’s definitely a worthy opponent, whatever people think of him.”