Anthony Joshua will attempt to unify the heavyweight titles and become undisputed champion of the world in 2018, with promoter Eddie Hearn planning on three contests next year.
Ideally, there would be a unification fight either in February or March, a summer fight in Britain or the United States, and a November stadium showdown.
First, Joshua, who holds the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation titles, must come through the challenge of late replacement Carlos Takam this weekend in Cardiff. If he manages that, he is likely to target Joseph Parker, the New Zealander who holds the World Boxing Organisation crown, followed by a blockbuster battle with American Deontay Wilder, the World Boxing Council champion, who defends his belt in New York on Nov 5 for the sixth time. Both are unbeaten.
"I want to unify all the titles and fight all the champions by the end of 2018," explained Joshua, who also has Tyson Fury on his radar, late next year, although the Lancastrian is currently suspended.
Several scenarios have been posited by Hearn. One could entail Joshua fighting WBO champion Parker at the O2 Arena in London on Feb 3, with the venue already booked. If that is impossible, a fight in the Middle East in March or April could be possible.
"The plan is for AJ to unify the belts in 2018, and we really would like to create three massive fights next year," Hearn said. "Feb 3 is a potential date, at the O2, against Parker for the WBO belt, or if that doesn't work out, so too is a fight in the Middle East in the first quarter. Wilder is a target as well, in a summer fight. But we are also offering Wilder that Feb 3 date at the O2 Arena against Dillian Whyte."
Prior to Joshua's thrilling fight with Wladimir Klitschko in April, Whyte had given Joshua, now unbeaten in 19 contests, his toughest test. Whyte is ranked highly and it is inevitable that the south London fighter will challenge Joshua again, though he is an outsider for 2018's plans.
"Ideally, we want Wilder to fight Whyte on Feb 3, and we have offered him $3 million plus US television money, which is worth at least another million," revealed Hearn. "It would be the perfect lead in to a Joshua fight, if Wilder could come through that."
If such a scenario unfolds, Joshua's next fight could switch to the Middle East. "We will look at June-July for AJ's second fight of the year, outdoors in a stadium. We need a stadium for AJ because he puts so many bums on seats."