By Ryan Burton
A heavyweight unification bout between WBA/IBF/IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (20-0) and WBO champion Joseph Parker (24-0) appears closer than ever. There have been several stories on this site stating that the fight will take place either in March or April in the United Kingdom.
BoxingScene.com recently spoke with Parker's trainer Kevin Barry to get an update on the negotiations and he also believes that they are very close to reaching an agreement.
"We have made a lot of concessions and compromises. We really have done I believe everything in our power to make the fight a reality. I think Eddie Hearn has been really good. I think the negotiations between him and (Duco Events Director) David Higgins have gone reasonably professionally. We have moments where we vent on social media but that was all designed to raise Joe's profile. He was a little bit invisible in the UK and now I think a lot more people are aware of who Joseph Parker is and what he looks like. They see the belt around his arm and the statements from him," Barry stated.
Barry said that the fight negotiations began in late October when Joshua stopped Carlos Takam in 10 rounds. Hearn called Parker out after the fight and negotiations began shortly after that.
Joshua received criticism after the fight for not putting away Takam, who took the fight on short notice, earlier. Takam was down in the fourth round but wasn't stopped until the 10th round when the referee called a halt to the bout with Takam still on his feet.
Barry, who used to train former title challenger David Tua, said that they were looking at fighting unbeaten Aussie Lucas Browne in their next bout but that Parker immediately asked for the fight after seeing Joshua's lackluster performance and hearing Hearn call him out.
"We were in the process of signing Browne for a fight at the end of March or beginning of April and Eddie came out after the Carlos Takam fight and said we want Parker first up next year. When he did that Joe said that the Takam fight put everything in perspective. We know Takam took that fight on only 12 days notice. We know he didn't have any sparring. The story about him being on hold was bullshit. The promoter friendly stoppage at the end - there were a lot of holes in that fight and Joe said, 'oh my God let me have this guy. Let me have him now before someone else beats him.' So then we started the negotiations and as I mentioned to you we made a lot of concessions and a lot of compromises," Barry told BoxingScene.com.
"We know that Joshua is a big star in the UK but there hasn't been a unification championship fight in the heavyweight boxing in over six years since(Wladimir) Klitschko and David Haye. This fight is a big deal. We knew we weren't going to get parity on the business side, Joshua has two belts and we've got one. The 65-35 (split) was a pretty good number for our team. That is what we are heading towards. Eddie Hearn has made several statements that we are close. We know that we are close but Joshua is the one now who has to make a small concession."
Parker's co-promoter Bob Arum recently told BoxingScene.com's Keith Idec that the fight may happen on March 31st in Cardiff, Wales.
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