By Keith Idec
Anthony Joshua is interested in sitting down with UFC president Dana White following his fight against Joseph Parker to discuss a potential promotional partnership.
The British superstar confirmed he is intrigued by the thought of meeting with White during a conference call Wednesday night to discuss the Parker fight. The Daily Telegraph of London reported Wednesday that White is preparing to make the undefeated heavyweight champion an offer for a multi-fight agreement that could become worth roughly $500 million, assuming the heavily favored Joshua tops Parker in their title unification fight March 31 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
Matchroom Boxing, headed by managing director Eddie Hearn, has promoted Joshua since he won a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Joshua emphasized Wednesday night that he’ll remain loyal to Hearn, but the IBF/IBO/WBA champion didn’t elaborate on a how a possible promotional relationship between Matchroom and UFC might work.
UFC is expected to venture into promoting boxing later this year and an affiliation with Joshua would immediately make the mixed martial arts company a major player in boxing. When asked about the UFC’s impending promotional pitch, Joshua enthusiastically discussed it.
“Listen, I’m riding with Eddie,” Joshua said during the conference call. “I’ve been riding with Eddie. He’s backed me from the get-go. And then the second thing, I’m a boxer. I’m not into the UFC, so I don’t know what their plans are. But anytime I’ve been asked about UFC, it’s if I would make that crossover, like [Conor] McGregor did with [Floyd] Mayweather, and I said.”
Before Joshua could finish that thought, a reporter interjected to clarify that he wanted to gauge Joshua’s interest in UFC promoting his boxing career, not in whether he would compete in mixed martial arts.
“Oh yeah, a hundred percent, hundred percent,” Joshua said. “I’m interested because we can all work together. Mine and Eddie’s relationship is a really good working relationship. You know? And I’m sure Eddie has an interest in working with Dana White. If it’s good business, it makes sense. I’m not in the business and I’m sure Eddie isn’t in it to say, ‘Oh, Dana White, we’re not interested in working with you,’ when we don’t know what’s on the table.
“We’ll listen and a hundred percent, if it makes sense, we’re all ears, man. So I’m happy that Dana’s coming into the game. Hopefully, he can add some excitement, and we can progress forward and make some good money and make some good fights.”
Hearn, who has helped build Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) into boxing’s biggest star in the United Kingdom, didn’t seem quite as eager to discuss Joshua-related promotional plans with White. Neither Joshua nor Hearn have publicly discussed his contract status with Matchroom Boxing beyond his high-profile showdown with New Zealand’s Parker (24-0, 18 KOs), the WBO champion.
“I saw it,” Hearn said regarding The Telegraph’s story. “[Reporter] Gareth [Davies] spoke to me about it today. And like I said, if Dana White wants to speak to us, obviously Anthony’s with us, um, we’re willing to talk to anybody. We do great business with everyone. Bernd Boente, Duco Events, you know, I work with Top Rank, Golden Boy, Al Haymon. We work with anyone if the business is right. In the meantime, I’ll sign Conor McGregor and it’ll all be fair.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.