We asked the promoters behind Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker whether they will collide in a heavyweight unification clash in 2018?
Joshua will defend his WBA ‘super’ and IBF belts against Carlos Takam at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff this Saturday night, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
WBC champion Deontay Wilder and WBO title holder Joseph Parker will be watching their rival with interest, but will we see fights between the three current champions?
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn, Lou DiBella, who works closely with Wilder, and David Higgins of Parker’s promotional team Duco Events have joined a debate about whether we could see an undisputed champion in the future.
Have there been initial talks about a unification clash?
Hearn: It’s about money, and who is worth what. Wilder would get much more money to fight Joshua [than he would to fight Dillian Whyte]. Some champions will say: ‘we’re both champions so it’s a clear 50-50 split’.
That is not in the equation when you’re dealing with Joshua. How can it be? One guy is making six times the amount of the other guy. That [creates a problem] but once you reach a number that the other guy can’t make elsewhere, they have to start thinking about it.
DiBella: I don’t think anyone is talking about it. There has been no contact with any immediacy. I think it’s self-evident. Eddie spends far more time talking about Dillian Whyte then he does talking about Deontay and AJ.
Higgins: He [Eddie Hearn] sends the odd message saying ‘let get it on’ that type of thing, but no detailed discussions. He hasn’t thrown any numbers at us.
Who is your preferred opponent?
Hearn: It will be more difficult with Wilder because he has lots of ideas – he calls himself the most feared man on the planet, and the most feared heavyweight since Mike Tyson. I’ve got a couple of heavyweights who want to fight him!
There isn’t much value in Parker yet because he’s only looked okay – people think it’s an easy fight for Joshua, so Parker isn’t as big as a fight with Wilder.
Higgins: We’ll fight Joshua tomorrow, but it’s just about whether we have a fair deal. If Hearn offers us a fair deal, we’ll take the fight.
If Joshua and Parker stood in front of each other and traded, who has got the better chin? The facts show that Parker has never been on his back. Joshua has, so it will be an interesting and exciting fight.
DiBella: Parker would be a fight I would sort of like to see, because he brings a belt and it’s another possibility. I don’t see AJ and Eddie Hearn running to make that [Wilder] fight immediately.
I’m not saying Anthony Joshua is afraid of it. I believe he’s a real fighter, a real champion. I believe he wants the big fights, but my guess is I would be shocked if the Joshua-Wilder fight materialised immediately. But if Eddie Hearn and AJ wanted to come to the table, I know that Deontay, his management and myself would be open to that.
Higgins: That [Joshua] fight would sell out any stadium in the world. If it’s going to be in the northern hemisphere, you want it in the summer time at an outdoor stadium.
If I was Eddie Hearn, I would be calling me up and running a process talking to different locations, be it London, Cardiff, you could chuck in Paris – that would sell out. It’s the sort of fight that gets economic backing from a government or a city.
DiBella: Deontay wants to unify the belts and the biggest fight you can make is AJ and Wilder. But at the same time, I just read an article where AJ says he’s in no rush to fight in the United States. By the way, I’m not saying the fight has to be in the United States. I think the fight would be where it generates the most revenue.
Hearn: Our plan is to probably box abroad with Joshua in February or March, then come back [to the UK] for the big summer unifier. Abroad being America or the Middle East, where we’ve had a number of offers from.
Can a unification fight happen in the near future?
Higgins: If the deal is right, we’ll take the [Joshua] fight anywhere at any time.
DiBella: Other than Eddie talking about how easy a fight night it would be for AJ, which I think is laughable, I don’t see Eddie doing or saying anything to really suggest he wants to move quickly towards a Deontay Wilder fight.
Could a champion hold all the belts by the end of 2018?
Hearn: If Joshua doesn’t fight Parker in February or March it becomes difficult.
Higgins: That’s the beauty of boxing, you don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t think any of these other guys are world beaters. I wouldn’t call Wilder or Joshua all-time greats like Lennox Lewis.
They are quite beatable, so anyone of them could beat the other and you don’t know what is going to happen. But those guys have all timed it right – Parker, Joshua, Wilder their timing is good and they are in an era that is interesting. There will be a lot of matches and rematches, and anyone could rise to the top.
DiBella: Considering that the belts lie in the hands of three people who are all going to fight other fights in between, I think it’s highly unlikely there will be one unified champion by the end of 2018.
I would like to see a unified heavyweight world champion as soon as it’s practical. I would like to see it and I would hope that if not by the end of 2018, then certainly by early 2019.
Do you have the No 1 heavyweight in the world?
DiBella: Am I confident that I have the best man in the division? Yes, I am. I think I most certainly have the most dangerous man in the division, but that doesn’t diminish AJ in any way, because I think clearly the two best heavyweights in the world are Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua.
Until they fight each other, then no one will have the answer to that question.
Hearn: As far as I’m concerned the most exciting fighter in world boxing, ready to do the business next Saturday.
Will we see a unification clash in 2018?
Hearn: The plan for AJ is to box three times next year. One will be a unification fight, at least.
DiBella: I think AJ is a great young fighter, but I think the greatest danger to AJ in the world is Deontay Wilder.
I think the fight will eventually happen.
Higgins: Yes. It would be disappointing if there wasn’t.
It’s good for the sport when the boxers and promoters are willing to take risks. I’ll give that to Eddie Hearn and Joshua. I have no doubt that they are willing to take the risk and so are we. If Hearn makes us a fair deal, we’re on.
Watch Anthony Joshua vs Carlos Takam, from the Principality Stadium, Cardiff, on October 28, live on Sky Sports Box Office. Book via your Sky remote or online.