Hearn: I want three Joshua title defences in 2018


CARDIFF — After leaving Carlos Takam’s face looking like it had been through a meat slicer on Saturday, IBF and WBA champion Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) talked about facing his rival world heavyweight titleholders in 2018.

Promoter Eddie Hearn wants Joshua to face Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs), the WBC titleholder who faces a rematch with Haiti’s Bermane Stiverne Nov. 4, and New Zealand’s WBO champion Joseph Parker.

But Hearn wants at least one of the fights in 2018 to be outside the United Kingdom, where AJ has dispatched all 20 professional opponents within the distance after stopping Takam in the tenth round in Cardiff.

“I would like him to box three times in 2018,” Hearn said. “He doesn’t have to. It’s down to Anthony. We may have a mandatory with the WBA which is unclear at the moment. There’s Joseph Parker. There’s Deontay Wilder.

“He can hardly leave his house without being mobbed. The pressure on him is huge. I would like him to have an international fight in 2018, but it does seem a shame to leave all this.

“It’s about sitting down and seeing what he wants to do. He’s capable of fighting in any territory, we need a clear plan moving forward.”

Joshua’s priority is to keep hold of his IBF and WBA belts and fulfilling mandatory defences.

“I don’t mind,” he said. “I’m just focusing on keeping my belts, who ever that is on the WBA list that’s who it is. I’m just focusing on keeping my belts and improving. I’m not just worried about my next three fights but the long term strategy.

“I’m not worried about 2018. It’s got great possibilities. You just never know what’s around the corner. Heavyweight boxing is madness. Just look at the guy’s face after. People want to see him unconscious, it’s just a different kettle of fish, it’s like a gladiatorial arena.”

Joshua could not provide the clean KO blow that 78,000 fans wanted to see and referee Phil Edwards’ decision to stop the fight was booed.

Takam (35-4-1, 27 KOs) may have been upset with the stoppage, but in defeat he gained a lot of credit for the courageous way he battled on from the fourth round with impaired vision caused by a cut by his right eye.

Joshua was impressed with Takam, who only stepped in at 12 days’ notice after original opponent Kubrat Pulev pulled out injured.

“I’m happy with that the win is secured and we move on,” Joshua said.

“I didn’t care if I sparked him out or it went 12 rounds, but people wanted to see him unconscious. I tried to do that but the ref’s job is to make sure they can fight another day.

“His eyes were nearly hanging off because the cut was deep, but he wanted to carry on and that’s the fighter’s instinct.

“I didn’t want to rush things because he was quite experienced and he knows his durability and just try to land that one sweet punch and those belts go back to France.”

Dillian Whyte, who Joshua stopped in seven rounds in December 2015, is hoping to beat Joshua to fighting Wilder for the WBC title in 2018.

Whyte, who was born in Jamaica but moved to London as a child, unanimously out-pointed Finland’s Robert Helenius on the undercard in dull affair.

Whyte struggled to look against Helenius and Hearn admitted: “I think Deontay Wilder might want the fight now. It was a good performance from Dillian but it was not a blistering performance s it might work to our advantage.”

Hearn says Whyte could challenge Wilder at the O2 Arena in London in February next year.

“February 3 at the O2, we have it booked,” said Hearn. “I’ve spoken to [Showtime Sports executive] Stephen Espinoza and they like the fight.

“If Deontay Wilder will travel, there’s a fight to be made Feb. 3 in London. If they want to make us an offer to go to America, we will listen.”

Whyte (22-1, 16 KOs), 29, has identified Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs), who defends his belt against Haiti’s Germane Stiverne on Nov. 4, as his No. 1 target.

“I’m in boxing to fight the best and at the moment the Wilder fight makes sense, so that’s the one we are chasing,” said Whyte.


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