Anthony Joshua will fight Deontay Wilder next year, according to the British fighter’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, who has started talks over a world heavyweight title unification bout.
Joshua and Wilder have appeared certain to meet since the former beat Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley in April to add the WBA title to his IBF version. Wilder is the WBC champion and, in what is a limited division, it feels not only inevitable but also necessary that the pair fight.
That became even more the case after Joshua and Wilder won their bouts against Carlos Takam and Bermane Stiverne. After knocking out Stiverne in under a round in New York last weekend, Wilder declared “war” on Joshua and accused Hearn of delaying negotiations.
Reacting on Thursday and also speaking in New York, Hearn confirmed talks with Wilder’s team. “Deontay Wilder is doing a great job of convincing people that AJ is running from this fight,” Hearn told Sky Sports News. “Our job to deliver but it doesn’t happen overnight. This first meeting today may go well, it may go terribly, but fans need to know we want the fight. It will happen in 2018 unquestionably.
“We have to respect [Wilder] but we also need to do great business for Joshua. If we offered Wilder his true worth, the meeting would last two minutes. So we have to compromise between reality and fantasy.”
“The major issue in these negotiations is to deal with egos. You have two world champions – one is the biggest star in world boxing and one, if you walk the streets of Manhattan and ask if people know the name Deontay Wilder, the answer will be no. Walk down the streets in the UK and ask if people know the name Anthony Joshua and they will know his life story.”
Despite his confidence over Joshua and Wilder meeting next year, Hearn cautioned that the Briton could first meet the WBO champion, Joseph Parker. “The instructions from AJ is: ‘I want to be the unified champion by the end of 2018,’ so that means going through Wilder and Parker,” Hearn said. “We would fight Wilder in the US. We’d love the fight in the UK. Maybe we do two of them.”
Hearn spoke shortly after Joshua had taken to social media to goad not only Wilder and Parker but also Tyson Fury.
The 28-year-old’s opening salvo – aimed at Parker – was a gif of Kermit the Frog drinking tea. The tweet said: “Sips tea, continues to read tweets & refreshes email ... Still No Offer.”
— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyfjoshua) November 9, 2017
Wilder was next on Joshua’s hitlist, with the Watford-born fighter posting a YouTube video of a lengthy interview during which he urged the American to set up a title fight. An accompanying tweet said: “A little word on the @BronzeBomber fight. Ready & waiting for the offer.”