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Anthony Joshua-Joseph Parker title unification bout verbally agreed to for March 31

29
Dec

Anthony Joshua is ready to add a third title to his growing collection.

A bout between Joshua, who holds the WBA and IBF heavyweight belts, and WBO heavyweight titleholder Joseph Parker has been verbally agreed to for March 31, sources with knowledge of the negotiations told RingTV.com.

ESPN reported Thursday that Eddie Hearn, who promotes Joshua, and Duco Events, which handles Parker, finally agreed to the financial split. Duco Events’ David Higgins told ESPN that Parker will earn between 30-35 percent to Joshua’s 65-70 percent of the pie.

Parker (24-0, 18 knockouts) will be a massive underdog to upend Joshua, widely considered the best heavyweight in the world (Tyson Fury holds the RING championship but has been inactive since a November 2015 victory over Wladimir Klitschko.)

The New Zealand native has failed to impress in his three title fights, distance meetings with Andy Ruiz, Razvan Cojanu and Hughie Fury.

Joshua, meanwhile, has risen to the top of the sport. More than 90,000 fans packed Wembley Stadium to watch Joshua rise off the canvas and knock out Klitschko in the 11th round in a heavyweight title classic that was named THE RING’s 2017 Fight of the Year.

When his fight with Kubrat Pulev was announced (Pulev withdrew with an injury and was replaced by Carlos Takam), Joshua sold out an arena in Wales in a matter of hours and set an indoor attendance record (78,000) for a boxing match.

With his big punch and fast hands, most observers will favor Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) to extend his perfect knockout record against Parker. However, Higgins swears Joshua has a shaky chin that Parker will expose, and Top Rank’s Bob Arum, who also works with Parker, expressed the same sentiment earlier this month.

Showtime has a first and last right of refusal stemming from Joshua’s expired three-fight deal with the premium U.S. cable network, which began with his title victory over Charles Martin in April 2016 and ended with the Brit’s knockout of Eric Molina later that year.

Joshua’s thrilling victory over Klitschko was televised live by Showtime and on tape delay by HBO after an agreement was ironed out. Klitschko had a working arrangement with HBO.

And then Showtime was forced to match an aggressive bid for Joshua’s fall title defense against Takam.

Now, Showtime must enter talks once again to televise Joshua’s fight with Parker. There’s growing sentiment in the boxing industry that Joshua will join HBO following his next fight, when he’s free and clear.

Hearn has a budding relationship with HBO, with the network traveling to Monaco to televise the British promoter’s card featuring Dmitry Bivol’s first-round knockout of Trent Broadhurst, and then also picked up the rights to the unification bout between Ryan Burnett and Zhanat Zhakiyanov.

And when Hearn signed his first American fighter, Daniel Jacobs, HBO quickly consummated an exclusive deal to televise the middleweight contender’s fights. The thought, all along, was that HBO was cozying up to Hearn in an attempt to steer the biggest star in boxing across the aisle.

If Joshua does head to HBO, that could throw a wrench into plans to put together the biggest fight in boxing: Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder, who is aligned with Showtime.

“We’ve made it very clear that this is a Showtime event,” Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza said. “We’ve spent literally tens of millions of dollars over the last few years developing both Wilder and Joshua here in the U.S. market. We’ve done everything to get them from to no awareness to where it’s arguably the biggest fight in the sport.

“So we’re not going to lose that. We’re confident that our partners on both the Joshua side and the Wilder side understand and respect that. It doesn’t mean things can’t happen, other networks can jump in, but when you’ve spent 20, 30 million dollars, maybe more developing these two guys, I’m confident that our business partners are going to recognize that and say ‘you get the payoff as well.'”

 

Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger

  • Steve

    Given Tyson Fury’s inactivity this match is a good opportunity for The Ring to recognise a new Heavyweight Champion as I seem to recall editorial policy allows for matchups between numbers 1 and 3 to fill a vacancy.

    • Andy T

      I agree as Tyson’s first fight will only be a tune up and over 2 years is too long

    • Pierre Burger

      Yeah, except in this case there’s s big drop-off between #2 and #3.

      • Steve

        Fair point, but at least it crowns a Ring champion. Ideally it won’t matter if AJ and Wilder meet later in the year but that’s not guaranteed.

  • John Newman

    Unfortunately for Showtime, they’ve signed a deal with Al Haymon. Showtime can spend all the money it wants developing Wilder or any other PBC fighter, the fact remains that Haymon’s “advice” results in his fighters being too inactive to become major money draws in the sport (Floyd Mayweather excepted, mainly because he was a transcendent talent).

    • AngelMorningstar

      Really you mentioned Mayweather? Mayweather couldn’t sell out a whore house on a free night before Haymon.

      • John Newman

        Too true, but it doesn’t change the fact that Haymon turned him into a major draw (and it had a lot to do with his talent, both in the ring and at creating a market that wanted to see him lose).

    • Kiowhatta

      That’s quite true. How many PBC fighter’s are whining about the lack of dates? Many of them are attempting to jump ship because the PBC was yet another cynical attempt to hijack the boxing public’s imagination, yet again guaranteeing them a saviour model.
      Noe we see Dana White trying to cash some cheques in the boxing world, because he’s not content with the millions he’s making from TV and merchandising revenue from salary capping his fighters.
      Some boxing fans have no memory at all.

  • ozzy

    Joshua himself won’t be giving Parker the short shrift that this article gives him. Parker & Higgins’ lack of respect for Joshua will not do them any good in the end; I feel that a quiet and respectful demeanor, so that Parker more or less went under the radar before the big fight would have served Parker better.

  • Mike M.

    They’re getting a little carried away with this shaky chin stuff. That right cross Wladdy dropped him with would have ko’d anyone else, and he got up on steady legs.

    • Kudos

      Dillian Whyte is piss poor and not even a puncher yet he hurt the black supremacist.

      • Mike M.

        Meh he buckled Joshua walking in after eating a series of punches. He recovered almost instantly. We’ve all seen worse happen to guys who get caught. Parker can hurt him but putting Joshua away is gonna take more than a clean shot.

        • Kudos

          Buckled by a complete bum. I knew you’d give your ‘brotha’ a pass.

          • Mike M.

            My “brotha?”..I’m not of the Afro American persuasion homie..just saying lol.

            But c’mon that’s hardly giving him a pass. Every fighter gets chin checked, any of these big boys can knock each other out. Personally I think Wilder can put his lights out if he lands enough bombs, you could say that about anyone he fights though, and AJ’s no bum.

            However we’ve only seen him dialed in against Stiverne, who at his best is still a big sack of potatoes. If he spent more time dispatching other fellow contenders in the same fashion in recent years I’d have no problem saying he’d knock AJ out.

          • Kudos

            Didn’t say AJ was a bum I was referring to Whyte. Bum is obviously too harsh but you get the point. And there’s a lot of rumours about Joshua being glass. We all heard the same about Khan and know one wanted to hear a bad word against the golden boy…

          • Mike M.

            I hear ya, When it comes to gym rumors there’s always some truth to them. They get more sensationalized when its a high profile fight and its hard gauge who’s credible and who isn’t, but AJ getting dropped or seriously hurt in sparring isn’t far fetched at all. It probably has happened. I’m hoping Parker gives him a run for his money, its only gonna make things more fun.

      • Kiowhatta

        Black supremacist? AJ? what is he?

    • Kiowhatta

      Even Evander Holyfield in his prime would have taken a knee after that perfect power shot. It is terribly unfair to judge Wlad as sub-prime simply because he was 41.
      The guy was bouncing around the ring in terrific shape for almost the entire fight. Even ‘ol George Foreman would have buckled under that shot.
      if anything, that fight proved Joshua has the durability to recover, adapt and win.
      WTF has Whiner done in his career except knock out fringe contenders?
      Joe Parker has at least stayed busy, travelled and tested himself.
      The only criticism that can be levelled at AJ is he carries a little too much muscle. But so what.

      • Mike M.

        Agreed, Wladimir was in terrific shape and as confident as we’d seen him in recent years. Anyone would eaten pavement after eating that steel hammer. Joshua’s size..err..mass would be more concerning if he had sticks for legs. He strikes with good form, and carries the weight pretty well but he could afford to lay off the protein shakes.

        • Kiowhatta

          I’d kill for a physique like that. Well, maybe not kill, but I’m sure he doesn’t have much trouble with the ladies.
          I also think he probably really loads up on the supplements, at his age he wouldn’t need PED’s; At least to hell I hope not, cause he carries the hope and future of the HW division on those broad young shoulder’s.

    • John Grady

      Agreed – WK’s KO % is extremely impressive, even if he doesn’t have the one-punch KO power as most with such a %. The publicity is likely gamesmanship and an effort to promote the fight as competitive.

  • Fist_ti_cuffs

    Boring……… and if you don’t believe me, look at the odds for this trash.

  • Floridastorm

    In the first place if you look at some of Parker’s earlier fights he was slim and in great shape. If you look at his last 3 or 4 fights he looks overweight and not in the best shape. He’s started to wing his punches instead of sharp punches like he used to throw. Joshua is going to eat this guy alive and KO him within 4 rounds even if Parker lasts 4 rounds. Only Wilder can give Joshua a fight and, that is why Joshua will not fight Wilder no matter being taunted by Wilder or not. Joshua and his handlers are not stupid. They know that a brutal KO could end Joshua’s career and maybe his health.

    • Blair Nicol

      That’s the exact same reason Wilder has avoided Joshua. On,y calling him out now as he knows it’ll be the biggest payday he’ll ever get.

      • Floridastorm

        So tell me, when has Wilder ever avoided Joshua? Name me one time. The reason that Wider is so damn angry, as I would be, is that nobody of any standing wants to fight him. He proved toughness by going over to Russia and fighting a Russian, Povetkin, one of the top heavyweights. It’s not Wilder’s fault that Povetkin had to take drugs to face him. Then he’s supposed to fight Ortiz, who some people think is the greatest thing since Vanilla Ice Cream. But, Ortiz needed blood pressure drugs because he’s worried. Again, not Wilder’s fault. This is the reason Joshua fought Takem and will now fight Parker, two very limited heavyweights. He doesn’t want any part of Wilder, Neither do his handlers. He knows that he went down and nearly out from 41 year old Vlad’s punch. He also knows that Wilder throws many punches that are harder than what Vlad threw.

        • Blair Nicol

          You just keep believing that haha.

          Wilder throws punches from the next county. Joshua would have enough time to make himself a nice cuppa tea before slipping those windmills and finishing him with a counter.

          Wilder fights like he’s one of them rock en sock em robots.

          • ceylon mooney

            wilders got some speed
            on that 1-2. hes got
            faster hands than joshua, and his timing, even if it’s off at first, tends to adjust.

          • Blair Nicol

            Joshua has faster hands, their faster combos.

            Wilder telegraphs his punches. Joshua will read them and it’ll be an early night.

            Wilder’s technique is awful.

          • ceylon mooney

            joshua has better combos for sure, but, no way, he aint got the handspeed that wilder does. wilder can get sloppy, but he can also execute textbook-sharp 1-2. sometimes he has great timing.

        • ceylon mooney

          id be pissed
          too if i were wilder. hearn said fight whyte first. wilder said i will if u put it in writing that AJ is next. then hearn said “thats not how this works.”

        • Andy T

          If you call out you are the King and want 50% of the money I think you are looking to avoid AJ.
          If Wilder had 20 fights I could feel sorry for him not having any names on his CV but 39 bouts and no names that is someone cherry picking

    • Kiowhatta

      Wilder is the one on social media acting like a lunatic, throwing taunts, challenges and rubbish like he’s got nothing better to do.
      it has always been the case that the mouth is the one who’s intimidated, rather than the guy who won’t waste his energy engaging a pretend champion on the twitter-verse like it means something.
      If I see another picture of Whiner screaming I’ll shoot someone.
      Even Ali used his mouth to out-psych his opponent. He felt the fear and he dealt with it by verbalising.
      Classic case in point – Kostya Tszyu v Zab Judah. If you can be intimidated then you will try to intimidate.

  • John Grady

    Excellent article, although I’m not sure AJ is “widely considered” to be the best heavyweight in the division – this conclusion is disputed these days… although I must say that I agree that he should be ranked #1.

    • Andy T

      Beats Parker holds 3 of the 4 belts with Klitschko / fight of the year on his CV should be number 1.

  • Jerry Johnson

    Aj by ud or tko

  • Colnef

    While Joshua is on the up while Parker seems to have plateaued since becoming champion. His weight has been up – generally a bad sign – although I’m sure he’ll be in top condition for AJ. They talk about his power but he has no ko’s in his last 4 fights when the general level of competition improved. Joshua has had a couple of shaky moments but I think he handled getting hurt by Whyte very well. The brutal shot he took from Klitschko that dropped him would have done in most heayweights. AJ is a punching machine and think he gets Parker out of there inside 7 rounds.