Klitschko, Wilder then Fury: Why Hearn’s three-fight Joshua plan means dropping titles
Eddie Hearn has been quoted in the UK press this week naming his three ideal opponents for unified heavyweight king Anthony Joshua’s 2017 and 2018 calendar.
Firstly, Joshua is set to battle Wladimir Klitschko in a rematch of their April contest, before Hearn wants to follow another victory over the Ukrainian with a unification against WBC title holder Deontay Wilder.
Then – all being well against the American, Hearn wants to put together a massive fight with Tyson Fury to round off what would be a spectacular threesome of blockbuster bouts.
Several hurdles would be hit on the mandatory road to even making the Wilder fight a unification as Joshua has to ask both the IBF and WBA for an exception to keep his belts solely for the Klitschko fight.
Should Joshua be allowed to – and win the return, the WBA and IBF would expect back-to-back defenses against their mandatory challengers (currently Kubrat Pulev and Luis Ortiz).
Gaining another exemption from both to then battle Wilder in a unification would be unheard of, meaning a massive fight with ‘The Bronze Bomber’ would only be for the WBC and IBO versions.
Fury would also have to put himself in the rankings by mid-2018 in order to be able to contest either of the championships, which would see the best heavyweight in the world crowned with only two of the five belts on offer.
There’s also the fact that Wembley Stadium would need to be the venue for any Joshua v Fury fight, meaning either a quick turnaround with Wilder – say March 2018, in order to lead into a potential August fight with Fury.
That plan seems considerably flawed and the dates just don’t add up, so coupled with the title situation looks to be merely a pipe dream for Hearn and the UK fans.
Granted it would be a masterplan for all concerned if it could be pulled off, although it’s not a workable or feasible blueprint at this point in time.
Looking at Joshua’s stipulations and the notion of fighting just twice a year from now on, a calendar more realistic reads as follows:
October / December 2017 – Wladimir Klitschko (WBA / IBF / IBO titles)
March / April 2018 – Kubrat Pulev (WBA / IBF / IBO titles)
October / November 2018 – Luis Ortiz (or possibly drop WBA belt) / Deontay Wilder (WBC / IBF / IBO titles)
April / May 2019 – Tyson Fury (WBC / IBF/ IBO titles)
All roads certainly lead to Wilder and Fury for Joshua, who will have to impress once again to defeat Klitschko and begin a run that will ultimately decide his legacy.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay