Anthony Joshua could fight Joseph Parker early next year

Joseph Parker
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But the Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder heavyweight unification will be the big fight for 2018, writes John Dennen

THE major boxing event of 2018 should be a heavyweight unification between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder.

After Luis Ortiz failed a drug test, Bermane Stiverne came in to fight WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder on November 4. Anthony Joshua defends the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles against Kubrat Pulev on October 28.

“I think that’s going to be the big fight. But he [Wilder] needs to fight somebody. Joshua has boxed [Wladimir] Klitschko, now he’s boxing Pulev. Wilder’s boxed [Gerald] Washington, I know Joshua boxed [Eric] Molina but he dispatched him and Wilder had a tough fight with him. I wanted to see the Ortiz fight. So we’ll see,” promoter Eddie Hearn said.

Joshua is on a mission to unify the world titles. That means WBO titlist Joseph Parker is also in the frame. “Joshua wants all the belts. So you’ve got the Parker fight as well, but obviously Parker didn’t look the best last time out. It’s a tougher fight to sell now. But it’s still a unification fight and the WBC fight of course,” Hearn said.

He added, “The fight I look for Parker is either Joshua in February/March or Tony Bellew, if he beats David Haye, that’s the two fights we’ve got. Or Dillian Whyte. But he doesn’t want to fight Dillian Whyte, another one who doesn’t want to fight Dillian.”

Hearn feels there is no place in boxing Ortiz, who has failed his second drug test in recent years. “If you really were [taking medication], how could you not put it down on your form. You’ve been done before, you know you’re being VADA tested, it’s also a masking agent. It doesn’t look great,” said promoter, who has himself worked with Ortiz.

Anthony Joshua

“They were trying to get Joshua stripped of the WBA for not fighting him,” he continued. “If you’re taking medication you put it down. I can’t believe anything else. It’s hard when you’ve got an innocent fighter that may have made an innocent mistake but then he’s being labelled a cheat and who knows. The bottom line is the responsibility lies with the fighter and their nutritionist or whoever it is. They’ve got to be responsible for what they’re putting in their body. It is actually really good that this is happening because the truth is if Luis Ortiz was cheating he wouldn’t have been found out before in this fight and that’s dangerous.

“How many fighters are cheating? How many fighters have been cheating in the past? And by cheating what you’re doing is risking you’re risking other people’s lives. It’s not like you’re in a race over 100 metres, you’re punching someone with the intention to hurt them and knock them out. So we’ve got to get them out of the sport.”

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