Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder bout negotiations 'will start next week'

Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder bout negotiations 'will start next week'

Promoter Barry Hearn expects negotiations for a world heavyweight title unification fight between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder to begin next week.

Britain's Joshua is now eyeing Wilder's WBC belt having added Joshua Parker's WBO title to his WBA and IBF crowns with a points victory over the New Zealander in Cardiff on Saturday.

Anthony Joshua in action against Joseph Parker in their WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO Heavyweight Championship. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Anthony Joshua in action against Joseph Parker in their WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO Heavyweight Championship. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

A match-up with American Wilder has been anticipated for some time and it now seems likely to occur sooner rather than later with both fighters calling each other out.

Hearn, chairman and founder of Joshua's promoters Matchroom, told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme: "I think negotiations will start next week. It is a fight Anthony Joshua really wants and I think he wants it this year."

Joshua has said he would like the bout to take place in the United Kingdom but Hearn is not ruling out the possibility of it happening in the United States if the terms are right.

Matchroom view Joshua as a much bigger drawing card in the UK than Wilder is in the US. Taking Joshua across the Atlantic would be more about promoting Joshua in the US than acceding to Wilder demands.

Hearn said: "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 sportstar 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."

Wilder has stirred up some controversy this weekend by suggesting he wants to kill somebody in the ring.

Hearn said: "Perhaps education could have come a little earlier for him. 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."

Former British world champion Frank Bruno believes Joshua still has to make improvements.

Bruno, who held the WBC belt in 1995, said: "I think Anthony Joshua thought he could walk through (Parker) and knock him out in about six rounds, but he took him the distance.

"It's hard to criticise him but he's still got a lot to learn. He'd only had 20 fights.

- Press Association and Digital Desk

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