Promoter Eddie Hearn feels that an Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder fight is inevitable, provided they both win their upcoming bout on Dec. 23.
London’s Joshua will headline against Otto Wallin two days before Christmas in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. On the same card, Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, will take on Joseph Parker. Should both Joshua and Wilder win their respective fights, it would set up what many regard as the most exciting heavyweight matchup in the sport.
Hearn, the head of Matchroom, which backs Joshua, previously suggested that Joshua could explore a potential vacant IBF title shot against top-rated Filip Hrgovic of Croatia.
The IBF belt is currently held by unified champion Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine, who also holds the WBO and WBA belts. Usyk will put his three belts on the line against WBC champion Tyson Fury on Feb. 17 in Riyadh.
Hearn believes that if an undisputed champion is crowned on Feb. 17, the belts are likely to splinter again because of the mandatory demands of the sanctioning bodies, especially that of the IBF. (It has been rumored that Usyk and Fury will enter a rematch.)
In that scenario, a Hrgovic vs. Joshua fight could be appealing as it would afford Joshua to become a three-time heavyweight champion.
But Hearn feels that there would be too much momentum for a Wilder fight in that time frame to consider any other option.
“It’s very likely that after Fury-Usyk 1, the belts will fragment,” Hearn told Boxing Social. “Particularly the IBF. If that fragments and Joshua beats Wallin on Dec. 23rd, it would be Hrgovic against Joshua. But by then it’s very likely that Joshua-Wilder could be contracted and probably will be contracted.
“We won’t be able to U-turn at that point. We’re full steam ahead trying to make the Wilder fight. WBC final eliminator? If that’s what it’s called. I would just call it the biggest fight in boxing at that point. When that fight happens and the only way that fight happens is if they both win on December 23rd on the same card. And if they do win on the same card, on the same night, that fight is the biggest fight in boxing.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.