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U.S. or U.K.? Site of an Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder bout is a sticking point that might delay showdown

Representatives of unbeaten heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder have yet to strike an agreement on if the fight should take place in the U.K. or the U.S.

A figure monitoring the talks told the Los Angeles Times on Monday that the site discussion “is still the threshold issue … discussions are ongoing, but no breakthrough yet.”

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Whether it’s a leverage move or the truth, three-belt champion Joshua (21-0, 20 knockouts) is said by his promoter, Eddie Hearn, to be within hours of agreeing to a mandatory title defense against Russia’s Alexander Povetkin in September in a bout that would be fought in the U.K.

“The Povetkin deal is virtually done, it’s close,” Hearn said in the London Daily-Telegraph on Saturday. “The Wilder one is not, but we’re talking to him every day. It’s just a case of if we can get that done.

“Joshua would like to fight in September. The Wilder fight doesn’t really work in September, mainly because of [a] Canelo Alvarez [Mexican Independence Day weekend] fight,” drawing away pay-per-view buyers.

“If Joshua fights Wilder [next], it will be October or November in the U.K. If he fights Povetkin, it will be in September. It will either be Povetkin, then Wilder, or Wilder, then Povetkin. But if it is Povetkin next, then Wilder will definitely be signed before we go into that fight.”

Hearn admits taking on former title challenger Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) first is a risky move with the riches of a Wilder fight in play. Wilder was supposed to fight Povetkin in Russia last year, but Povetkin’s positive drug test scrapped the bout.

Anthony Joshua walks on the court before Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference finals between Golden State and Houston on May 22 in Oakland.
Anthony Joshua walks on the court before Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference finals between Golden State and Houston on May 22 in Oakland. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Povetkin is a contender, but the timing is puzzling considering the chance to seal a date with Alabama’s World Boxing Council champion Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs), whose management has guaranteed Joshua $50 million for fighting in the U.S., and who has expressed a willingness to fight in the U.K.

Fighting in the U.S. would mark 2012 Olympic champion Joshua’s first bout here and present a greater purse, but his home-field advantage and drawing power — one-quarter of a million fans have attended his past three bouts in the U.K. – are considerations the “A” side fighter seems intent to flex.

“There’s no reason for them to go on to Povetkin at this stage unless they just don’t want the Wilder fight at all,” said the official, who requested anonymity about the talks due to their involvement.

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