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Heavyweight world titleholders Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker could meet to unify belts

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Heavyweight world titleholders Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker both have defenses on deck against opponents they are heavily favored against, and if they win they could meet to unify their belts later this year.

Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, will make his fifth title defense against Gerald Washington on Saturday (Fox, 8 p.m. ET, with additional bouts on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 10 p.m. ET) at Legacy Arena. Parker, who has a mandatory defense to take care of against Hughie Fury, will be ringside to scout Wilder. Their teams have been talking about the fight for this summer or early fall.

Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs) has been talking about unifying titles since he first won his belt in January 2015 and was very animated talking about a possible Parker fight following Thursday's final news conference for the fight with Washington (18-0-1, 12 KOs).

"We're not looking past Washington, but I do like looking though my opponents as if I'm window shopping a little bit, looking through the glass at something I want and I can't get it right now because I've got a job to do first," Wilder said. "So once I beat Washington we really want Parker to get the WBO title so that will leave me with the WBC and the WBO and then [Wladimir] Klitschko and [Anthony] Joshua are fighting for the IBF and the WBA [on April 29]. So at the end of the year you put your two [belts] up, I'll put my two up and we can unify the whole division."

Lou DiBella, Wilder's promoter, said both camps are interested in the fight and he has arranged for Parker to have a credential and to sit ringside Saturday. Wilder said he hoped to give Parker something to think about.

"I know Parker's coming. I've been talking to his people. I knew he was coming and that's gonna be good," Wilder said. "We're thinking June, July. That's what we're trying to schedule. I think we're going to take it to Las Vegas, maybe Barclays Center [in Brooklyn, New York]. They've wanted me to come back since the [Artur] Szpilka fight [in January 2016]. So I think it will be a great opportunity to come back and present myself in New York, the media capital of the world, but a great thing for Parker as well to get known in America."

Wilder said he would be willing to travel to Parker's home country of New Zealand if it came to that, though that is unlikely.

"If it lands in New Zealand, it would be lovely to go over," Wilder said. "I was willing to go to Russia, I've gone to Mexico, been to England. My belt says heavyweight champion of the world. It doesn't just say 'of Alabama' or just 'of this country.' Either way it goes, I just want the fight made. I don't care about location. I don't care about date. I just want it made because my goal is to unify and I will unify."

Wilder said the only time he has seen Parker fight was when he won a vacant belt by majority decision over Andy Ruiz Jr. on Dec. 10 in New Zealand, Parker's home country; he spends much of the year living in Las Vegas with trainer Kevin Barry.

"My first time seeing him fight was against Andy Ruiz, which I thought he lost that fight," Wilder said. "But that's the only thing I've saw of him. I like the intensity and the courage his team has to want to unify."

Parker (22-0, 18 KOs) was due to make the mandatory defense against England's Fury (20-0, 10 KOs) on April 1 in New Zealand. Parker's team won the purse bid for the fight, but Fury and promoter Frank Warren have delayed signing the contract to the point that the April 1 date has been lost.

WBO president Francisco "Paco" Valcarcel said Thursday that if Fury doesn't sign the contract by noon London time on Friday, the organization will consider allowing Parker to bypass Fury and make an optional defense. Either way, Parker will fight this spring but with an eye on Wilder.

Barry, who is in Birmingham to train up-and-coming heavyweight Izuagbe Ugonoh for his undercard fight against Dominic Breazeale, said Parker won't look past Fury -- or whomever he fights next -- but that he very much wants to fight Wilder.

"We've made no secret we would like to fight Deontay," Barry said. "We'd like to unify those belts."

Barry said based on Parker's next fight being delayed from April 1 that it would be more likely that a Wilder fight would be in August or September.

"I think that would be a good time for us. We'd like it to be in America," Barry said. "We're trying to make this unification. We're doing our part. That's why Joe is coming to the fight. We hope whoever wins the other belts [in the Joshua-Klitschko fight] keeps both belts and puts them up. It would be fantastic for the heavyweight division to have one champion. We'd like to go after the big fights with Joe."