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Sky Sports are ready to fight to keep Anthony Joshua on their channel as they announced their plans for staying in boxing.
The broadcaster is confident they can get the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion to extend his exclusive contract with them once it expires after his clash with Oleksandr Usyk on September 25.
Joshua's deal with promoter Eddie Hearn is also up after the Usyk bout at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
But Hearn is confident of a renewal and that the Watford warrior will pen an exclusive deal with DAZN in the UK.
The streaming service already shows Joshua's fights in countries outside of the UK.
But Hearn has not ruled out signing Joshua to a promotional deal and the heavyweight star staying on Sky despite his own split with the broadcaster.
Sky Sports' Head of Boxing Development Adam Smith knows keeping Joshua would be a huge coup for the channel as they prepare to launch their new set up next month.
He said: “AJ is a massive part of our business so I would be naïve and silly to say I will be happy to let him go off into the sunset, we will be fighting hard to maintain a contract going forward with Anthony Joshua.
“Today is about our commitment to boxing. With AJ, it is a huge fight on September 25.
Do you think Anthony Joshua will beat Oleksandr Usyk? Let us know in the comments section.
“We would be delighted to keep our relationship with Anthony Joshua.
“We will be looking to do everything we can to secure a great future for AJ and Sky and I believe we will.
“I believe he is a very loyal guy, who has stayed with Eddie and [trainer] Rob McCracken and I think he will stay with Sky. We don't know what lies ahead, he has a fight to win and we have a fight to push for him.”
Sky Sports will return to boxing with Joshua's clash with Usyk later this month on pay-per-view.
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But they have teamed up with US promoters Top Rank to bring some of the biggest fights in America to the channel.
In the UK, they've trusted Boxxer chief Ben Shalom with plotting their future in the sport alongside Smith.
Shalom and Sky are expected to work with various promoters and their first show will be headlined by Wasserman's Chris Eubank Jr against Sven Elbir on October 2 at Wembley Arena.
David Avanesyan will defend his European welterweight crown against Liam Taylor and cruiserweight contender Richard Riakporhe returns on the bill.
Their second show is October 16 in Newcastle with Hughie Fury, cousin of Tyson, facing Christian Hammer and North East favourites Savannah Marshall and Lewis Ritson feature on the undercard.
Top Rank star and undisputed light-welterweight champion Josh Taylor will defend his titles against Jack Catterall on December 18 in Glasgow.
All three shows are on Sky Sports and not pay-per-view.
Another signing is Caroline Dubois, the British Olympian and the sister of heavyweight star Daniel, who will have been of interest to other major promoters this summer.
Sky also plan to run Boxxer events, an eight-man tournament show, which features shorter bouts running from quarter-finals to a final all on one night. The first event will be November 6.
There have been some questions as to why Sky Sports have given Shalom 'the keys' to their boxing platform after Hearn's departure to DAZN.
Shalom, who is the youngest licensed promoter in Britain, is inexperienced and was still in the process of building the Boxxer brand before snatching this Sky deal.
Smith admits it comes with a risk but he has been impressed with Shalom.
He said: “Eddie went to DAZN and we wanted to stay in boxing, as we have for 30 years.
“We had some great times but we needed to go again and I think it was important to change direction slightly.
“Ben is the youngest promoter in Britain, he's very smart, very innovative, and cool guy and relaxed, he’s a different character to Eddie, he does not want to be front and centre, he will let the fighters do that.
“Ben gave an extraordinarily good presentation and he has built a very strong team behind him.
“It may have been a bit of a shock for the boxing world when we announced it, I didn't know him that well, but I wanted to get to know him really well and he has really impressed me.
“He's engaging, thoughtful, bright and he loves the fighters.
“He made a good decision in bringing in John Wischhusen, who has a lot of experience.
“It was a risk, it was a chance, we've given him the keys but I really like working with him. This is great.
“It is going to take time, this is a journey. I'm very pleased with what I'm seeing.”
- Eddie Hearn
- Anthony Joshua
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