Anthony Joshua’s mission to unify the four major heavyweight titles in boxing is one belt away from completion. On Saturday night the British fighter decisioned Joseph Parker to add the WBO title to his collection that already included the WBA and IBF belts. Now all that remains is the WBC belt, held by American brawler Deontay Wilder. And based on comments from both Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn after the Parker fight, Wilder will indeed be next.
“I think negotiations will start next week,” Hearn told the BBC (via The Guardian). “It is a fight Anthony Joshua really wants and I think he wants it this year.”
The big question is whether the fight would take place in the UK where Joshua has been filling stadiums with 70,000+ fans, or in the US where the right fight could generate hundreds of millions on pay-per-view. Joshua has previous said he’d like the fight to happen in his home country, but Hearn made it clear that decision wasn’t set in stone.
“I still think in the long term, if Anthony sits down and thinks it through, he may come to the decision that to be a truly global sport star he needs to go to America – not just for the money – but, in terms of the brand value of AJ, fighting in America is going to be on his horizon. I wouldn’t rule out AJ fighting in America despite his comments last night.”
Not only is Deontay Wilder one of the most exciting boxers currently competing in America, but a fight between the two would crown the first heavyweight in history to hold all four of boxing’s major sanctioning body titles. The last heavyweight to hold three titles was Lennox Lewis in 2000, which tells you what a big deal this bout would be.
By all indications, Deontay Wilder sounds ready and excited to accept a fight with Joshua. But if things get ugly in negotiating a purse, Hearn has a backup opponent at the ready: Russian heavyweight Alexander Povetkin, who was featured in the Joshua vs. Parker co-main knocking David Price out with a brutal left hook.
While a decent match that would certainly line the pockets of both Hearn and Joshua, it wouldn’t carry the prestige or excitement of a Joshua vs. Wilder fight. So let’s hope everyone keeps things reasonable and we get this historic bout before the end of 2018.