It looks as though Anthony Joshua’s next fight will be tied up within the next few weeks, and it will be another step towards trying to unify the heavyweight division.
AJ’s promoter Eddie Hearn has confirmed that talks with WBO champion Joseph Parker’s representatives have been progressing, and an announcement could be made before 2017 is up.
"We feel like there is a deal that can be in place with Parker and his team within the next week or so," Hearn told Sky Sports News.
"There's a good chance [Parker's promoter] David Higgins will fly over in the next week to try and close the deal.
"Sometimes when you're this close you need to get face-to-face and eye-to-eye. Work on it, keep talking, no one goes home until you make the deal."
The WBC world champion Deontay Wilder has also been on the radar of Joshua, and following his one round knockout of Bermane Stiverne earlier this month, his stock has never been higher. However, Wilder and his team's demands mean that a matchup will not happen for a while yet.
"There are two perfect fights for AJ - Parker and Deontay Wilder. The Wilder fight is unrealistic because of what they want. The Parker fight is a lot closer,” Hearn added.
Despite wanting to unify the division, contingency plans have been discussed if the Parker deal falls through, with the likes of AJ’s former foe Dillian Whyte also in the mix.
"We may look at a WBA mandatory, Dillian Whyte or going to the States to fight Jarrell Miller. There are options but the aim is to become the undisputed world heavyweight champion.
"Parker is the frontrunner, he's the guy we want. But we can't be in a position where this goes on for three weeks then falls through.
"There is no deadline but we want to fight at the end of March or the first week of April.
"You are only one phone call away from a completed deal.”
A location for the potential Parker clash hasn’t been confirmed, but the Matchroom Boxing mogul Hearn is hoping to strike a deal with a big stadium that could match the numbers set by AJ’s title defence at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff against Carlos Takam, which drew nearly 80,000 people.
"We looked at The O2 but if it's a unification against Parker, why have a 16,000 attendance when you could have 80,000? We have looked at the Principality Stadium and Twickenham. Major football stadiums don't want you using the pitch during the season."
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