Joshua, 29, is pencilled in to fight on April 13, 2019 at Wembley Stadium, with the unified heavyweight champion and his promoter making it clear Wilder is their preferred opponent.
Hearn, though, predicted a undisputed world heavyweight title showdown between Joshua and Wilder, 33, is unlikely to be next, as it emerges Whyte, 30, is the frontrunner for the April date.
Speaking to IFL TV, Hearn revealed he is in talks with Wilder’s camp, but the negotiations are not progressing well, Whyte waiting in the wings for a rematch with Joshua.
Hearn said: “As it stands today, I would probably say that judging by the response from Wilder’s team, Dillian Whyte is probably the front-runner.
“We got to do a deal, and it’s not going to be easy – Dillian wants certain things, and Joshua wants certain things.
"They don’t like each other, but there’s a lot of money to be made in that fight.”
Whyte once beat Joshua in the amateur ranks, however, that defeat was avenged in 2015 as AJ scored a seventh round knockout against his rival.
However, Whyte has evidently improved since then with the Brit coming off a devastating KO win against Dereck Chisora, 34.
Meanwhile Wilder fought to a contentious split decision draw against Tyson Fury, 30, in LA at the beginning of December.
Despite flooring Fury twice, the American was largely outboxed in the WBC world title showdown with the boxing world awaiting the rematch to settle the score.
The potential rematch offers a huge stumbling block for Hearn as the promoter understands Wilder may opt for a re-run with Fury, opposed to fighting Joshua.
Hearn added: “Our priorities have not changed to make the Deontay Wilder fight, I can’t exactly say it looks like they want the fight. We’re ready to fight Wilder.
"But maybe they can’t do a deal with Fury in the rematch.
"Although [Wilder’s] profile has risen out of the Tyson Fury fight, if you’re Tyson Fury now, what deal do you accept to fight Deontay Wilder?
"[Fury] feels like he won the first fight. He should have won the first fight. Then you think, should we just make Joshua against Fury?
"But also Joshua against Whyte is a really, really good fight."
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