LONDON – Talks over a world heavyweight title unification fight between Anthony Joshua and American Deontay Wilder could start as early as this week.
Joshua added the WBO title to his WBA, IBF and IBO belts by beating Joseph Parker on points in Cardiff on Saturday night.
Wilder holds the WBC version and has already thrown down the gauntlet to Joshua.
“I think negotiations will start next week. It is a fight Anthony Joshua really wants and I think he wants it this year,” confirmed Barry Hearn, chairman and founder of Joshua’s promoters Matchroom.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme, Hearn added: “Anthony Joshua wants all the belts – that is the big card Deontay Wilder has got to play, but commercially, Joshua is far bigger than Deontay Wilder.
“I think Wilder would come over here because in the world we live in, in boxing, the couple of million dollars Wilder is getting for a fight is pretty small fry in comparison to the rewards that await him for a Joshua fight.
“Travelling is not usually a problem if the money is right.
“But 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 sports 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.”
Wilder stirred up controversy over the weekend by suggesting he wants to kill somebody in the ring. He is now under investigation by the WBC after stating he wants “a body” on his fight record.
Hearn said: “It was a horrible thing to say and something I am sure he regrets, but in the heat of the moment, he is just trying to be famous.
“The only way to do that would be in the ring against Anthony Joshua, and he should keep those comments to himself.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn is not as convinced as his father about the next step, but wants to see Joshua take on Wilder.
“If they (Wilder’s management) stepped up and were actually serious about the fight and serious about a deal we are more than willing to offer them, it could happen next,” said Hearn junior.
“But with them, they are so erratic and unpredictable, I don’t know what to believe. I think it (Wilder fight) has to happen in 2018, otherwise we are going to hit some major problems with the politics and the mandatories.
“The whole point of the Wilder fight is to win the final belt, so we don’t really want to drop a belt and then fight Wilder because it wouldn’t quite be the history fight it could be.
“It is not really about Wilder, it is more about us sitting down over the next two weeks and planning out the rest of 2018.”