Anthony Joshua vs Carlos Takam - IBF & WBA World Heavyweight Titles

Joshua and Parker on Course for Unification Bout in 2018

2017 played host to some brilliant fights; Anthony Joshua versus Wladimir Klitschko, Saul Canelo Alvarez against Gennady Golovkin and James DeGale’s bout with Badou Jack are just three that spring to mind.

With the new year upon us, focus is shifting to some big fights on the horizon and there is huge expectation that the heavyweight division will move a step closer to being unified – with a meeting between Joshua and Joseph Parker edging closer to agreement.

The heavyweight scene may lack the star quality of previous eras, but Joshua and Parker hold unbeaten records and world titles. The two camps have been in discussions for some time and New Zealander Parker’s management team are expected to be in London soon to put signatures on contracts.

March or April are potential dates for a fight that will draw huge interest and set the winner up for a meeting with Deontay Wilder, who holds the other belt, to unify the division.

The last undisputed heavyweight champion was Lennox Lewis in 2000, which highlights how tough a task it has become to get champions together in the ring.

It appears the IBF, WBA and IBO belts – held by Joshua – and WBO strap – in the possession of Parker – could be on the shoulders of one man as early as March.

Should the matchup be made, the fight would in all probability by held in Britain – making Joshua an even stronger favourite than would be the case at a neutral venue.

Joshua has risen through the professional ranks since taking gold at the London Olympics in 2012, and his win over Klitschko – when he hauled himself off the canvas to stop the great Ukrainian – enhanced an already burgeoning reputation.

That win at Wembley in April, although of great merit, exposed Joshua as being susceptible to a power hitter. Parker brings power in abundance and his camp feel their man can expose the vulnerabilities in Joshua’s armoury.

“Most of the blinded British fans think Joshua is this unbeatable messiah with no chinks in his armour when, in fact, there are many,” Parker’s promoter David Higgins told the Daily Mail. “By the time I’ve finished my job they’re going to think Parker’s the favourite.

“I think Eddie Hearn is making a grave mistake feeding Anthony Joshua to Joseph Parker. The reason is simple: Joshua has a bodybuilder physique but he’s a bit predictable, robotic and he’s been flattened at least half a dozen times so his chin is suspect. Parker on the other hand is fast, fluid and has never, ever been dropped.”

With a fight close to being agreed, the talk from both camps will only intensify – they have seats to sell and Pay Per View buys to push – but this could be one heavyweight bout between champions who look well matched that could promote itself.