Wilder, Joshua, Fury – what’s next for the elite heavyweights?

Joshua enjoyed success against Alexander Povetkin in September

Anthony Joshua’s number one target for his 13 April Wembley Stadium fight is “without a doubt” a unification bout with Deontay Wilder, says promoter Eddie Hearn.

WBC world heavyweight champion Wilder, 33, shared a controversial draw with Tyson Fury in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Fury’s promoter Frank Warren says both parties want a rematch and his fighter is pushing for it to be in the UK.

“Wilder is our absolute first and golden choice,” Hearn said.

“Anthony will then become undisputed champion and then I think it’s only right Fury gets his shot as well.”

In a BBC Radio 5 live boxing special on a heavyweight landscape that commentator Mike Costello believes will turn into a “special era”, both Hearn and Warren gave their views on a division that changed significantly following the captivating draw between Fury and Wilder.

It’s your call, Deontay

Hearn, who engaged in failed negotiations with Wilder’s team on several occasions, admitted the next move now comes down to the American – face Fury in a rematch and satisfy public outcry or take on Joshua with the IBF, WBO, WBA and WBC titles all up for grabs in a historic contest.

“Saturday has thrown a grenade into the heavyweight mix,” added Hearn. “For us the goal remains the same, to be undisputed champion. Anthony wants to fight both Fury and Wilder but first things first, he wants to collect that other belt.

“There is demand for a rematch but it comes down to what Wilder wants to do.

“It’s frustrating when people say Joshua won’t get in with these guys. A much safer fight for Wilder is Fury as he may get beaten but won’t get hurt. Once Joshua gets hold of him he will get hurt.”

Failure to deliver Wilder or even Fury at Wembley on 13 April would be a “bit of a let down” according to Hearn, leaving the likes of Dillian Whyte, Dereck Chisora or perhaps Oleksandr Usyk in the mix to face Joshua.

The Matchroom Boxing boss claims Fury told him this week that he is keen on a Joshua fight, a bout which Costello believes would be “the biggest sporting event in the UK other than the World Cup in 1966” if it came to pass.

Hearn added: “Now there is a chance to create a legacy as there are great heavyweights out there. In the great eras, the greats had great dance partners, now they are out there for someone to become a great by beating them.

“I just believe I have the number one heavyweight in the world but it will be a lot of fun trying to prove it.”

UK is top of Tyson’s agenda

Hearn admitted Fury’s display against Wilder had “proven me wrong” after claiming the Briton would lose. He also stated having met Fury when the heavyweight was close to 28st a year ago, he felt there was “no way he would get in a ring again”.

Warren spoke on 5 live after his fellow promoter and highlighted Hearn’s change in attitude given he had labelled Fury “the most unentertaining fighter I have ever seen” as recently as September.

Warren also questioned why Hearn had not struck a deal with Wilder during several failed attempts if indeed the WBC title was Joshua’s priority.

Both Fury and Warren will draw comfort from Wilder this week stating he hoped to offer a rematch “ASAP”. It would appear the main threat to such a plan is a lucrative offer to press ahead with a unification bout.

A venue also appears a stumbling block, with Fury still frustrated by the scoring in the Staples Center draw given many observers ringside had him ahead despite being knocked down twice.

“We will do what we have to do,” Warren told 5 live Boxing. “Everybody wants to see the rematch and I am sure it will happen. The thing is Tyson wants to fight in the UK. He felt cheated out there and that’s our agenda really, to do it in the UK.

“The WBC are putting it before their board of governors and I assume and expect they will order a rematch. Both parties want it.”

We may be in Vegas in May – analysis

BBC Sport boxing correspondent Mike Costello:

Do people think Fury can repeat his display and get a points win? Or will Wilder catch him earlier? How does Joshua fare against the guile of Fury? How does he block the right hand of Wilder when he took similar shots from Alexander Povetkin? The puzzles and questions are so many that this is just about the most exciting time in heavyweight boxing in this country for 20 years.

BBC Radio 5 live boxing analyst Steve Bunce:

I think Eddie Hearn has been told by AJ: “Make the fight whether it’s Wilder or Fury.”

Fury and Wilder both want that rematch but I’m not sure where it will be. Had Fury got the decision I am convinced the rematch 100% would be in May in this country. I think there will already be an offer in from Las Vegas given how many Brits will go. Don’t be surprised if we are going to Vegas in May.

Nearly one week on – how good was Fury?

Costello: There are many events that make the spine tingle but when a heavyweight fight cracks open, there is very little in the world of sport like it. That 12th-round knockdown of Fury should have been and had to have been the last punch, but it wasn’t.

Had Fury got the verdict he would beaten Wladimir Klistchko – who had two reigns totalling 12 years – and Wilder – whose reign by next month is four years.

That would be two men who have reigned for 16 years and 30 successful defences. This is a phenomenal boxer who has this genius for seeing punches coming so early, along with the swagger and confidence to survive.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/boxing/46479278

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