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Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder set for 2018 says Eddie Hearn

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Will Joshua, Wilder happen in 2018? (2:43)

ESPN's Steve Bunce discusses all of the reasons why a possible fight between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder could take time to materialise. (2:43)

Anthony Joshua will fight Deontay Wilder in one of the most eagerly anticipated fights of 2018, Eddie Hearn has said.

A war of words had erupted between Wilder and Joshua, with Wilder (39-0, 38KOs) taking to Instagram to command Joshua to 'fight or shut up', while Joshua fired back on Twitter at both Wilder and Joseph Parker's call-outs.

However, a mouth-watering bout between Joshua and Wilder has taken a step closer to reality with Joshua's promoter Hearn confirming discussions would start with Wilder's team.

"I'm sitting down with [Wilder's representatives] Shelly Finkel and Al Haymon later this week to have our first conversations regarding Joshua vs Wilder," Hearn told Sky Sports.

"Like all these big fights it's never easy but hopefully we can find somewhere between reality and fantasy that suits all."

Wilder is not the only fighter targeting a bout with IBF and WBA champion Joshua. Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) has also made Joshua his primary target, and Hearn insists that Joshua intends to fight both to unify the division in 2018.

"I had a good meeting with AJ [on Tuesday]," said Hearn. "It's his goal to try and become undisputed heavyweight champion of the world by the close of 2018 so, at present, to do that we must go through Parker and Wilder."