Deontay Wilder vs. Anthony Joshua Fight Could Happen in 2018, Per Showtime Exec

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2018

WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder speaks at a press conference before the GEICO 500 NASCAR Talladega auto race at Talladega Superspeedway, Sunday, April 29, 2018, in Talladega, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

Showtime's president of sports and event programming, Stephen Espinoza, told TMZ Sports he believes the Deontay Wilder vs. Anthony Joshua heavyweight bout will happen this year.

"There's a lot of positioning," he said of the negotiations for the fight. "I think anytime you see guys talking to the press about a negotiation, generally that means there's very little actual negotiating going on. But the ball is rolling. Things are moving. Discussions are happening. I think that, once we get past a certain hump, then I think it will happen very quickly. So I'm still optimistic we'll get it this year."

According to Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles TimesJoshua has made an offer to Wilder for the fight to be held in the United Kingdom.

Pugmire wrote: "Wilder's team, the Times has learned, received the contract proposal Monday night and has yet to officially respond. An answer could come to Joshua 'within the next few days,' according to one official close to the negotiation who is not authorized to speak publicly."

For a heavyweight division that has grown somewhat stale in recent years, a matchup between two titans like Wilder (40-0, 39 knockouts) and Joshua (21-0, 20 knockouts) would certainly invigorate the sport.

But it seems unlikely that a fight will happen before October at the earliest, especially after Joshua's promoter, Eddie Hearn, told Richard Damerell of Sky Sports he has no desire to shorten the fighter's training schedule to squeeze in a September bout:

"I'm not letting Anthony Joshua fight this fight with an eight-week camp, because this is everything this fight. Everything that he's built towards, his whole professional career, maybe his whole boxing career is built towards this moment. We're not just going to go 'oh yeah, let's just dive in and do it on a date that doesn't give us the best prep time.'"

Even an October or November bout would pose challenges, Hearn added: "I think more realistically, October, November is a solution, but that does rule out the place where we wanted to stage it, which is Wembley, so lots to try and resolve. But we want the fight, we're prepared to sign for the fight now."