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THE heavyweight division went to another level in 2018. Anthony Joshua unified and then defended the WBO, WBA and IBF world titles, selling out two stadia in the process. Tyson Fury’s clash with WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder ended in a controversial draw but was the talk of the sporting world. Those three set the stage for an exciting 2019, with London heavyweight Dillian Whyte hoping to break into the reckoning.
The main players are currently jostling for position. Eddie Hearn promotes both Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte. He revealed that Tyson Fury has also been in contact with him. “He texted me a few times, we’ve spoken a few times. Joshua wants to be undisputed. If he can’t get those then he looks at Fury and Dillian. But these guys they’re not lapdogs, they’re not just going to turn round and say yeah, alright then, just tell me what the deal is and I’ll be there. They’re not just like a voluntary where I’m over the moon to get the shot. They’re in position. So whether it’s Dillian, whether it’s Fury, whether it’s Jarrell Miller, whether it’s Wilder, who knows?” Hearn said.
“He [Fury] is calling me. [Whyte] is a great fight. We tried to make that fight before. When Tyson Fury came back, I wanted him to have one warm up fight and then fight a three-fight deal: warm up fight, Tony Bellew, Dillian Whyte. Whyte-Fury is a massive fight. That’s a Wembley fight.”
While Wembley Stadium is currently booked on April 13 for Anthony Joshua’s next fight, but even that could change. “I think he’s about 80% likely to fight at Wembley on April 13,” Hearn mused, though he would still fill the slot with another show.
“I think the priority is Wilder. He wants to fight Wilder. But I don’t believe that will happen,” he continued. “If it’s an April 13 date at Wembley you’d need it on sale end of January, something like that. [But] they’re not showing a lot of willingness.”
Big fights are there to be made. But there are complications. “I think after 22 fights, quite honestly, AJ has done phenomenal. But people want to see him fight Wilder, Fury, Dillian Whyte,” Hearn said. “He’s up for fighting these guys.
“We’ve got to sit down with Dillian and his team and see if there’s a deal to be done for April. I don’t believe that Wilder will fight Joshua in April. We’ll sit down pretty much immediately and see if there’s a deal to be done. Dillian has become a pay-per-view fighter in his own right. He’s had two back-to-back pay-per-views that have done fantastic numbers. Both of them have been fight of the year contenders against Parker and against Chisora. So he’s in a great place. The feeling I get from Dillian is of course he wants a world title fight but he also wants to stay active, stay relevant, be in big fights, continue to improve. There’s no secret Joshua wants to fight the undisputed fight. But he also wants to fight Dillian Whyte.”
Whyte is in an increasingly good position to finally get the big fight he craves. “Firstly I expect at the end of January, when the WBO make their decision, they’ll install Dillian as the mandatory for the WBO world title. He’s also number one with the WBC. I think the WBO’s mandatory’s due on September 31, even if he doesn’t fight [Joshua] in April,” Hearn said. “I think Dillian called him a few names and he got up on the apron [of the ring]. It’s quite unusual for him to do that. But he wants to fight Dillian Whyte. Because they had a brilliant second fight, a brilliant first fight and there is history. And it does 100,000 at Wembley. So if there’s a deal to be done for that fight, I think there’s a very, very good chance that that will be next. But there are other fights he’s looking at. There’s other fights Dillian Whyte’s looking at. He can do what he wants. Dillian might turn round and go you know what I don’t like that deal. I’m going to have this fight or that fight and I’m mandatory anyway.
“[The WBC] will probably order [Dominic] Breazeale against Whyte as a mandatory for the WBC if Fury fights Wilder. But he’s also going to be mandatory for the WBO so he doesn’t have to be mandatory for the WBC. But if he wants to be mandatory for the WBC maybe he fights Breazeale.
“[Joshua] is up for those fights. But just like a deal might be presented to Dillian that he doesn’t like for the AJ fight and he decides no I’ll wait. You don’t just say you’re fighting him and that’s your money so shut up and take it. It doesn’t work like that. He’s carved out a position for himself number one in the WBC, number one in the WBO, top five in the WBA, he’ll be reinstated the IBF,” Hearn added, “He’s in a brilliant position. He doesn’t have to take the AJ fight.
“I do feel like he deserves a world title shot and I do feel he is either in his prime or quickly approaching his prime and that is genuinely the time to strike. I also believe him against AJ is an unbelievable fight. Unbelievable fight.”