Joshua vs Parker negotiations nearing a close

Anthony Joshua is “very close” to agreeing a fight with Joseph Parker as promoter Eddie Hearn admits he will “overpay” the New Zealander to secure the unification clash.

Parker’s promotional team had suggested last week that Joshua was “refusing to compromise” over terms, with the WBO champion offering a 35-65 split in favour of ‘AJ’, who holds the WBA ‘super’ and IBF belts.

But Hearn has held more favourable recent talks about the fight, which is likely to be staged in March.

“We’re close,” Hearn exclusively told Sky Sports. “We’re at a stage now where we’re having to compromise on certain points that we don’t really want to, but ultimately we’re going to have to because if you want to fight Anthony Joshua, these guys – they want to be overpaid.

“He is the golden ticket fight, the ‘Willy Wonka’ golden ticket fight that everybody wants and unfortunately for him, it’s going to mean sometimes taking a deal that isn’t right.

“My job is to represent Anthony Joshua and to deliver the deals that are right. We’re not just going to roll over and let them tickle our belly and give everything away, but we ultimately understand that we’re going to have to overpay Joseph Parker to get that unification fight.

Winter grind ❄️

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“We need these belts, there is no secret, and they know that as well. Anthony Joshua’s pure aim is to become undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. To do that he has to beat Joseph Parker and Deontay Wilder.

“The Wilder fight is in dreamland at the moment, with his demands. The Parker fight is very close. Hopefully, we can get that over the line before Christmas, pick up the WBO title in March, and then move on for the big one against Wilder for all the belts on the line.”

WBC champion Wilder has suggested he will seek a 50-50 split for a showdown with Joshua, but this demand has been dismissed by Hearn.

“Parker’s demands are unrealistic, but we’re going to try and make it happen,” said Hearn.

“But Deontay Wilder is on cloud nine. I mean he’s never fought anybody. You’ve got to understand, Anthony Joshua is making 10 times per fight what Wilder is making, and he wants to make the same money that Anthony Joshua is making in that fight.

In London and had the pleasure meeting @sfitzpatrick92 ???

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“I understand. Wilder is on relatively low money, he’s not a draw in the US right now. They all want the Joshua fight. It’s everybody’s cash-out fight.

“Our plan is to go and pick up another belt, have three belts going into that fight against Wilder’s one, clean him out, and then have it all, be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.”

David Higgins, a director at Duco Events who guide Parker’s career, had suggested the Nou Camp is being considered as a potential venue, while Hearn revealed that Joshua could be heading back to the Principality Stadium in Wales.

“Our original plan was to go to The O2 in March,” he said. “Against Parker, in a unification fight, that won’t be the case. Millennium Stadium is an option.

“We’re looking with David Higgins and the team at all kinds of different venues. Some quite quirky and funky, other more realistic. But like I said, really by the end of 2017, we must be in a position that fight is done and we’re ready to move forward.”