Heavyweight champ Joshua inks deal with Showtime

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Newly crowned British heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has signed a multi-fight licensing agreement with Showtime, the network and Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sports, announced Wednesday.

Anthony Joshua and Dominic Breazeale

Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, promoter Eddie Hearn and unbeaten challenger Dominic Breazeale appear at a news conference Wednesday in London. Joshua and Breazeale will fight June 25 at 02 Arena in London. (Photo courtesy of Matchroom Sports)

The deal aligns the 2012 Olympic gold medalist with the same network that has televised American heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder.

Coming off a vicious second-round knockout that dethroned previously unbeaten southpaw Charles Martin at the O2 Arena in London on April 9, Anthony Joshua (16-0, 16 KOs) will return to the O2 on June 25 for his first defense against another unbeaten American, Dominic Breazeale (17-0, 15 KO).

Already a star in the U.K., the 26-year-old Joshua is looking to achieve crossover appeal on American soil.

“This is a great opportunity to deal with Showtime,” Joshua said at Wednesday’s news conference at the Hilton London Syon Park. “I get to build in America, where I have a lot of friends. If we can keep on building and growing organically, then it will be unbelievable, like coming home.”

Joshua-Breazeale will air in the late afternoon in the United States, kicking off a big day of championship boxing. Later that evening from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, CBS will televise a 147-pound showdown matching champion Keith Thurman and former titleholder Shawn Porter, as well as a co-main event between 126-pound champion Jesus Cuellar and three-division title winner Abner Mares.

Joshua’s swift and emphatic knockout of Martin got the attention of a lot of American fight fans as it was broadcast live in the U.S. on Showtime. He’ll try to build on that momentum with another dominating performance against Breazeale a 30-year-old Southern California native.

I am not here looking to see the final round. I’m not here to look at the judges’ scorecards. I am here to knock Anthony Joshua out. Period. Dominic Breazeale

Breazeale last fought on January 23, when he rose from a third-round knockdown and defeated veteran Amir Mansour, who didn’t answer the bell for the sixth round because of a broken jaw. Like Joshua, Breazeale participated in the 2012 Olympics, but they were on opposite sides of the bracket and didn’t face each other, nor did they ever meet as amateurs.

He said Wednesday he’s eager to get his first world title opportunity and plans to become the first man to take down Joshua.

“I am not here looking to see the final round. I’m not here to look at the judges’ scorecards. I am here to knock Anthony Joshua out. Period,” Breazeale said. “I am very excited. I wish this fight was this weekend.”

Hearn said he expects Breazeale to offer more resistance to Joshua than Martin did, but he doesn’t expect a different result.

“Charles Martin was an undefeated 6-foot-5 southpaw that Anthony Joshua had to figure out, and he did it very, very well and very explosively,” Hearn said. “Will Breazeale try harder than Charles Martin? Yes, I think he will. Will he get knocked out? Yes, I think he will.

“Anthony’s only gone beyond three rounds once, but you’ll see, over time, that he’ll get better and better.”

While Joshua’s immediate focus is on Breazeale, Hearn also could be angling to get his fighter a shot at Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs), a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist. Wilder, who is from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, will make the fourth defense of his crown May 21 in Moscow against Russia’s Alexander Povetkin (30-1, 22 KOs), a former titleholder himself.

“Regarding Wilder, he's definitely one of the reasons that we wanted to join Showtime,” Hearn said. “He’s a belt holder, [and] that is a fight that we’d like to take, sooner rather than later.

“We hope that he gets the job done in Russia, and if he does, then a unification fight with Anthony Joshua is definitely something we’ll look at. There will be no network politics.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Sports’ executive vice president and general manager, said earlier this week he remains in negotiations to secure rights to air Wilder-Povetkin.

“Time is getting short,” Espinoza said. “It’s been a somewhat difficult and complex process. There are a lot of unresolved questions with everything from the start time to the TV production arrangements, which really account for the delay in us being able to formally announce. We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to announce something soon.”

For complete coverage of Joshua vs Breazeale, visit our fight page.

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