Undefeated heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder is on the verge of landing the high-profile heavyweight title fight he has desperately sought.
Wilder (40-0, 39 KO's), 32, a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, arrived in Northern Ireland on Friday, crashing former heavyweight titlist Tyson Fury's weigh-in, and exchanging barbs Fury's father, John.
According to sources reporting to FightNights.com, Fury and Wilder have agreed in principle for a Showtime-televised heavyweight championship fight that could take place in either November or December at an undisclosed location in Las Vegas. However, the deal is contingent on Fury winning his fight Saturday against journeyman Francesco Pianeta. The 30-year-old Fury, who dominated future Hall of Famer Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 to win three belts in an upset unanimous decision before taking two years off to battle drug addiction and depression, is a heavy favorite, and is expected to win easily.
Neither side has signed the contract.
Fury made his highly-anticipated return to the ring last month with a fourth-round stoppage of former heavyweight contender Sefer Seferi and will have another chance to clock in some rounds against Pianeta, who has lost two of his last three bouts, including a seventh-round stoppage to former title contender Kevin Johnson.
Wilder is coming off a 10th-round TKO of former interim champion Luis Ortiz in March, in what was his most impressive victory to date.
Many have voiced concerns that Fury is not ready to face Wilder, including Matchroom Sport Promoter Eddie Hearn, who manages three-belt unified heavyweight titleholder Anthony Joshua, but Fury will have another opportunity on Saturday to answer his critics.
Fury weighed-in on Friday at 258 pounds, 18 pounds less than he came in for the Seferi fight, a sign that the brash Englishman is taking his career seriously once again.
But a victory over Pianeta does not necessarily presage an upset over Wilder.