Hearn: Joshua ‘proactive’ in Wilder hunt

Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua wants to fight Deontay Wilder next but negotiations must avoid “fantasy”, insists promoter Eddie Hearn.

Talks to agree a world heavyweight title unification fight began on Thursday and, with Joseph Parker an alternative option for Joshua, Wilder has been warned not to scupper his chance.

“We have to find middle ground between reality and fantasy. If we can find the right deal, there is no reason why that fight can’t happen next,” Hearn told Sky Sports News. “Honestly, through experience, that’s the hard part.

“It doesn’t happen overnight, this is the first meeting [on Thursday] – it may go well, it may go terribly, it may go OK. Fans need to know we are being proactive.

“We want the fight. The Wilder fight will happen in 2018 unquestionably. It’s just a case of whether it’s next, in the summer and, importantly, where it [takes place].

“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.

“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. We have to overpay Wilder, like we do with every Joshua opponent. In fact, Joshua’s last opponent probably received a similar purse as Wilder received last weekend to defend his world title.”

WBO champion Parker is also in the process of submitting an offer to fight Joshua next, according to his promoter David Higgins.

“The starting point is 50-50,” Higgins said about negotiations. “But as a mark of respect, we would accept a bit less. But we will not accept an insult. Why should we?

“We’re in talks, 100 per cent. Joseph wants the fight but the deal has to be fair and reasonable. If they treat it like a regular voluntary, that devalues it.”

Joshua most recently recorded his 20th consecutive stoppage victory against Carlos Takam in defence of his IBF and WBA ‘super’ titles, but is already eyeing his return to action.

“Our goal is to box either in February or March 2018 – it’s a case of when, where, who,” Hearn said. “We have a two or three week window to make that decision. Wilder is in the mix, Parker is in the mix, international fights are in the mix.”

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