Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko talks likely to be concluded next week

By Riath Al-Samarri

British boxer Anthony Joshua is set to fight Wladimir Klitschko . Photo / AP
British boxer Anthony Joshua is set to fight Wladimir Klitschko . Photo / AP

A blockbuster fight between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko could be finalised as early as the middle of next week.

Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn and Klitschko's representative Bernd Boente are currently deep in talks, with the pair in conversation by telephone four times a day to make the heavyweight showdown.

November 26 was originally slated as a possibility, but a December date is now more likely for a fight that would put Joshua's IBF's world title on the line. The hope shared by the two camps is that if Tyson Fury is stripped of the WBA and WBO belts he won from Klitschko, then they will also be at stake.

Hearn is increasingly confident that an agreement is close, saying on Thursday that there is a '70-30 chance' of it going ahead, with news possible within the next seven days.
In citing the Fury situation, whereby he is likely to lose his titles after postponing his October 29 rematch with Klitschko, Hearn told the Daily Mail: "The whole Tyson Fury episode has completely changed out direction when it comes to AJ.

"We were due to make a voluntary defence or even face our mandatory on November 26 but with the likelihood of the belts becoming available, we are now targeting a winter showdown with Wladimir Klitschko.

"It's an epic fight - the young lion of the division against a legend of the division. Some feel it's come too early for Anthony but isn't that the exciting thing about it?

"There is an acceptance from both men that that is the next fight - now it's up to myself, Bernd Boente and the various broadcasters to give the fans what they want. News will come in the next seven days for sure."

The news comes as Klitschko accused Fury of bringing boxing into disrepute with his antics. He told German newspaper Bild on Thursday that Fury is"dragging boxing through the mud".

Fury's future in the sport remains desperately uncertain. Following his withdrawal from the Klitschko rematch over being deemed 'medically unfit', he has since tested positive for cocaine. He has gone on to admit suicidal thoughts and frequent cocaine use in an interview this week with Rolling Stone magazine.

Those comments were being studied by the British Boxing Board of Control and will be discussed at their meeting next Wednesday, when they will decide whether or not to withdraw his boxing licence. With the WBO and WBA still deciding what to do about his titles, it seems increasingly likely that the belts he won against Klitschko will all be relinquished without a punch thrown.

That has already opened one door for Joshua, who was able to fight for the IBF belt, which was harshly stripped from Fury because he opted for an immediate rematch with Klitschko rather than following their mandated route.

With another two titles potentially on the line, a fight between unbeaten Joshua and 40-year-old Klitschko would be a huge step up in class for the London 2012 Olympic champion.

- Daily Mail

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