Anthony Joshua is being lined up for a "mega-fight" to unify the heavyweight division against Deontay Wilder. The IBF champion has signed a four-fight deal with American broadcaster Showtime, which begins when the Briton defends his title against Dominic Breazeale – an agreement which is set to enhance his global appeal.
Joshua has also been named the world's fifth most marketable athlete by Sports Pro Media, and his unbeaten record as a professional with 16 stoppages in as many fights has seen his profile skyrocket since he won Olympic gold at London 2012. Exposure to a stateside audience will only enhance his reputation should he maintain his stunning knockout record.
On his way to claiming the WBC title, Wilder has earned a similar reputation as a knockout specialist, having stopped opponents in 34 of his 35 career wins. If the pair continue an unbeaten record they are destined to meet in an explosive unification bout in the coming years and Wilder's promoter Lou DiBella believes a fight is inevitable.
"Getting exposure in the United States is of critical importance, and Eddie Hearn knows what he's doing," DiBella told Sky Sports. "It was critical for Eddie to get a deal to give Joshua exposure. I think Joshua is a superstar in the making, he is the golden boy at your end of the pond.
"Lennox Lewis became quite the star in the United States and I think if Joshua progresses as some believe he will, if he rises to the level of the most elite, he's got tremendous potential as a fighter and an attraction. His deal with Showtime is very positive for him, and for the heavyweight division.
"I tend to see Deontay having an advantage in most situations because of the extraordinary one-punch power," he added. "Dillian Whyte was able to put a hurt on Joshua, so I would give Deontay an advantage, particularly right now.
"But Joshua will get better, he's still a young heavyweight. It's strange to describe a heavyweight champion as a work in progress. He's still learning with each fight. I'm a fan of AJ and I think the best is still to come. I don't expect Eddie to toss AJ to the wolves anytime soon. I would expect a learning curve for Anthony before we see a mega-fight."
The Watford-born Joshua returns to the ring for the first defence of his world title, which he won by flooring Charles Martin in London in April, by facing Breazeale on 25 June at the O2 Arena. Meanwhile Wilder has yet to confirm his next opponent, after making short work of Artur Szpilka in January.