ANTHONY JOSHUA is set to defend his IBF and WBA heavyweight titles against WBO champion Joseph Parker in a unification showdown on March 31 at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, Boxing News understands.

Parker’s manager David Higgins is in the UK alongside his fighter sorting out the final details of the deal with Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn. It is expected that the bout will be formally announced by all parties on Friday January 12, in London.

The event will be broadcast on Sky Sports Box Office, and will mark 28-year-old Joshua’s sixth world title fight, the most recent coming in the same Cardiff stadium – an October stoppage of the tough Carlos Takam. There are two key benefits for a Joshua contest being staged in that venue during colder climates in the UK: a roof, and – most importantly – an 80,000 capacity.

Should Joshua emerge victorious, Hearn told Boxing News the next assignment could be on foreign soil, before the heavyweight’s year culminates with a bumper showdown with WBC boss, Deontay Wilder.

“The aim is to fight three times this year,” said Hearn. “We must get that fight away in March, the first one because it gives you the opportunity to go again in August and then December,” Hearn said.

“One in America, and then Wilder. Or Wilder next and then [Tyson] Fury, maybe. If he [Fury] gets his licence that could be a big fight but he needs a couple of fights first.

“We want all the belts by the end of the year.”