Joshua versus Klitschko 'virtually' a done deal

LONDON • With Tyson Fury out of the picture, Britain's Anthony Joshua and Ukraine's Wladimir Klitschko are set to slug it out in December to become the next world heavyweight boxing champion.

According to promoter Eddie Hearn, the two have agreed to the fight, either in Manchester or Cardiff, with an announcement expected in a couple of days.

He said the heavyweight fight needs to be sanctioned, with Joshua's International Boxing Federation belt and potentially the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organisation titles on the line.

"Terms are virtually there," he told BBC Radio 5 live yesterday.

Hearn had been dropping hints all week that both heavyweights "should be in the gym focusing on fighting each other", suggesting that Klitschko was a "big favourite" to meet Joshua in his 18th outing.

The two boxers are likely to share the purse of £30 million (S$50.80 million).

On Wednesday, Britain's Fury relinquished his WBA and WBO belts and his boxing licence was then suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control "pending further investigation into anti-doping and medical issues". The 28-year-old admitted he had been taking cocaine to help him deal with depression.

Fury beat Klitschko last November to win the WBA, IBF and WBO titles but withdrew from two scheduled rematches.

Britain's undefeated heavyweight champion Joshua, 27, was scheduled to defend his title on Nov 26 in Manchester.

Hearn says the fight between Joshua and Klitschko will likely be held at the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena. The O2 Arena in London is the preferred venue, but concerts in December mean that location is likely to be ruled out.

"The financial terms are agreed. There was a problem with US broadcasters but that has been sorted," said Hearn.

"It is now a case of getting the paperwork and the sanctioning in order. Hopefully in a couple of days we will have the official announcement."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2016, with the headline 'Joshua versus Klitschko 'virtually' a done deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe