Fight between Joshua and Parker has Edged Closer

Joshua will put his WBA (Super) and IBF titles on the line to take on WBO champion Parker

Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight unification clash with New Zealand’s Joseph Parker is expected to be confirmed in the next 24 hours, concluding weeks of fractious negotiations.

Joshua will put his WBA (Super) and IBF titles on the line to take on Parker, who has been the WBO champion since beating Andy Ruiz via a majority decision in December 2016.

Reports suggest the fight will take place on March 31 at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, which staged Joshua’s most recent victory against the French challenger Carlos Takam.

The fighters’ respective promotions, Matchroom Boxing and Duco Events, have been locked in negotiations since the end of last year, with the purse split the largest obstacle that needed to be hurdled.

However progress was made shortly before the new year, with Parker’s co-promoter David Higgins revealing that his boxer had accepted between 30 to 35 per cent of the purse.

The two men are now expected to come face to face next week, with Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn this week promising fireworks after Parker and Higgins aimed a string of critical comments at Joshua.

“I was bantering with David Higgins yesterday. They truly believe they knock Anthony Joshua out. It's not even in question for them,” he told Sky Sports.

“We feel otherwise. You're going to see a lot of fireworks this press conference. David Higgins has got a lot to say for himself, he's a funny character, and Anthony Joshua doesn't like what Joseph Parker has been saying.

“This could be the first time we've seen the switch of Anthony Joshua, and I'm excited to see it.”

Joshua has a number of options in 2018, with a unification fight with WBC champion Deontay Wilder and a British showdown with the returning Tyson Fury also in his sights.

And Hearn recently outlined Joshua’s plan for the year, which involved beating Parker before taking on Wilder in an attempt to hold all four heavyweight belts.

“We need these belts, there is no secret, and they know that as well,” he said.

“Joshua's pure aim is to become undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. To do that he has to beat Parker and Wilder.

“The Wilder fight is in dreamland at the moment, with his demands. The Parker fight is very close. Hopefully, we can get that over the line, pick up the WBO title in March, and then move on for the big one against Wilder for all the belts on the line.”