Showtime’s excellent 2017 and strong start to 2018 continues with the addition of a historic heavyweight unification bout.
The network announced that it will broadcast the heavyweight title bout between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker that will unify the WBA “super,” IBF and WBO heavyweight titles. The fight will take place in Cardiff, Wales on March 31 and it further adds to Showtime’s already busy first six months broadcasting numerous world title fights.
Showtime was expected to land the Joshua fight, but the one wrinkle that would have prevented the network from getting the rights to this fight was rival HBO making a strong bid to take the fight. Parker fought on HBO when he won the vacant WBO title while all of Joshua’s world title fights were on Showtime, except for Joshua’s fight against Wladimir Klitschko. That fight was shown live on Showtime, but HBO had the rights to first air the replay on tape delay.
According to Dan Rafael, HBO offered $1.95 million to air the fight, but Showtime got the fight when it matched the offer.
One title that will not be on the line is the Ring Magazine heavyweight title, which was recently vacated due to Tyson Fury not having a fight scheduled for the February 1 deadline in order to keep the belt. The Ring said Joshua vs. Parker will not fight for the vacant title despite both fighters being in the top 3 in the heavyweight rankings because Deontay Wilder (No. 2) deserves a chance to fight for the title.
Joshua vs. Parker is expected to at least match the Welsh boxing attendance record set in Joshua’s last fight against Carlos Takam at Principality Stadium.