Joshua-Wilder unification bout 'won't be long' - Hearn

Anthony Joshua will likely fight Deontay Wilder in a unification bout by early 2018, according to promoter Eddie Hearn.

Joshua will defend his IBF world heavyweight title against Wladimir Klitschko on April 29 at Wembley Stadium in a bout that will also see the winner take ownership of the vacant WBA belt.

The Briton, whose 18 victories have all come via knockout, is the favourite to defeat the 40-year-old Klitschko.

And, should he prevail in London, Hearn sees a unification bout with WBC champion Wilder - a fighter with an unbeaten record of 37 wins and 36 knockouts - as an inevitability.

Hearn recently spoke with Wilder at the WBC convention and told Sky Sports of that conversation: "'It won't be long', that's what I said to him. He said 'I know, I know'.

"It's a big fight, it's a wonderful fight, and could be for four belts. Towards the end of the year, I don't see why not, or certainly early in 2018.

"Joshua will have between two or three fights a year now, so realistically it could be the back end of this year, or if not, early 2018.

"They are two young lions, two competitors, and I think it's important they meet. I think their styles will make a great fight."

The 27-year-old's mandatory challenger for the IBF strap following his win against Eric Molina last weekend would be WBA Inter-Continental champion Kubrat Pulev.

"He's the mandatory, so after this fight, we'll have to fight Kubrat Pulev and we'll have to see if we do or not," said Hearn.

"Obviously, we want to to keep the IBF world championship, but we'll have to deal with that after April 29.

"I don't think he will box again until probably September after that."

On the prospect of Joshua eventually facing new WBO champion Joseph Parker, Hearn added: "It's very difficult to collect all the belts, to keep all the organisations happy and stuff like that.

"The WBO, of course Joseph Parker won at the weekend, and that is a fight we think is very winnable.

"Deontay Wilder is a fight we want as well, but this is the one we have to get through - and I don't think anyone can overlook or look through this fight [against Klitschko]."

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