New heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua inks deal with Showtime

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·Combat columnist
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Showtime landed a big fish on Wednesday, though it wasn't the boxer many speculated it might be. Floyd Mayweather Jr., for the time being, anyway, remains retired.

But Showtime on Wednesday announced an exclusive multi-fight deal with new IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, one of the sport's most promising stars. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist will make the first defense of the title he won via second-round knockout on April 9 from Charles Martin on Showtime when he faces American Dominic Breazeale on June 25 at The O2 in London.

The deal is big for Showtime, because a star heavyweight boxer is always a big draw and Joshua oozes talent. He's 16-0 with 16 knockouts, including 13 in either the first or second round. He's also a charismatic personality who figures to resonate with the fan base when he begins to fight top-level competition.

Showtime rival HBO was clearly interested in Joshua, as it has had a long history in the heavyweight division and had an exclusive deal with ex-heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, like Joshua a one-time gold medalist from the United Kingdom. But HBO appears to be having budgetary issues, as its schedule so far this year has been sparse.

That is also evidenced by the fact that it declined to buy a WBC-WBO super lightweight title unification bout set for July 23 between a pair of unbeatens, Terence Crawford and Viktor Postol.

That fight is headed to pay-per-view

So Joshua landed with rival Showtime in a multi-fight deal, terms of which were to come. Joshua, Espinoza and promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sports will hold a news conference in London Wednesday.

Joshua's defense against Breazeale, a 2012 U.S. Olympian, will come on the same day that CBS broadcasts a highly anticipated welterweight title bout between Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.