The heavyweight division has become the talk of boxing once again as performances by Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker over the past six weeks narrow the focus down to just three champions.
Parker defeated Hughie Fury in late September, Joshua took out Carlos Takam a month later before Wilder obliterated a sluggish Bermane Stiverne in less than one round.
Prior to September, the headlines were pretty spread out between some of the top-rated punchers, although all crosshairs are now pointed as whether Joshua will agree terms with either Wilder or Parker next.
Wilder’s win seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, though, as Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn rolled out a post-fight shortlist in Cardiff that featured only three names, none of which were the current world title holders.
Fast forward a week and Hearn’s hand has seemingly been forced to include Wilder and Parker in Joshua’s 2018 plans.
Talk of meeting Alexander Povetkin, Christian Hammer or Luis Ortiz in March or April before moving on to battle Tyson Fury (if he can get fit) has since died down as fans across the world scream to all sides for a unification.
Joshua’s previous three-fight plan next year could also hit the skids as a clash with Wilder or Parker would probably take up the first six months of the year and likewise with a repeat against the other in the latter half.
The likes of Dillian Whyte, Ortiz, the Bellew v Haye fight and even Jarrell Miller v Mariusz Wach, taking place this weekend, have all taken a back seat in the column inches to what’s happening with the division’s top performer.
‘AJ’ himself usually takes an extended break after his outings but went through media duties on Wednesday to address call-outs by Wilder and Parker this week.
Hearn hastily spoke to Parker’s people on Tuesday before putting his attention fully into Danny Jacobs’ Matchroom debut in New York on Saturday, whilst contact will be made with members of Wilder’s team during his time in Brooklyn over the next few days.
Being a ‘strike while the iron is hot’ kind-of-guy has always gone in favour of Hearn, who doesn’t need telling that Joshua has a big opportunity to go for all five belts in the next twelve months.
Should he be successful, Joshua would rightly be recognized as the best heavyweight of his generation since the decline of the Klitschko’s and would set up potentially the biggest British fight of all time with Fury in the summer of 2019.
Fury, who should really be the fourth name in the mix, is fighting his own battle with the British Boxing Board of Control and the UK Anti-Doping Agency, which means it’s still not a certainty he can drag himself back into the fold anytime soon.
A fully determined Wilder will be aiming to halt the Joshua blueprint, whilst Parker would be a snow-white underdog to survive twelve rounds with the 2012 Olympic gold medallist.
It’s going to be an interesting few weeks.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay