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maltatoday WEDNESDAY 4 APRIL 2018 Sport 22 FORMULA 1 BOXING McLaren can take fight to top three - Alonso Talks to begin over Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder unification fight says Barry Hearn UPDATES and clever ideas. That's what Fernando Alonso says Renault-powered McLar- en are working on in a bid to catch F1's big three – Mer- cedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. Alonso's fifth place in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix equalled the best result McLaren managed to score in the last three years with former engine supplier Honda. His team mate Stoffel Van- doorne finished ninth, push- ing McLaren's points tally to 12 and putting them in fourth place in the constructors' championship. Having declared ahead of the race that Melbourne would be the team's least competitive race, Alonso is understandably bullish about the quality of this year's McLaren's chassis and the Woking squad's ability to to make gains and move up the pecking order. "We saw the potential of the car, we understood we had a good machine in our hands," said Alonso. "Now is the time for McLaren to come back to the top positions, and to do so you have to compete against the best teams in the world: Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. "And to be at that level we need to be better than them [in development], and we need to close that gap as soon as possible. And this will come with updates and clever ideas, and I'm sure we'll bring those very soon." McLaren only brought part of their update package to Australia. It is hoped much of what failed to make it can be added to the car for the next race in Bahrain. Their Racing Director Eric Boullier is optimistic about the future and took encour- agement from fellow Renault- powered rivals Red Bull's per- formance in Australia. "It's encouraging Red Bull is matching [Mercedes and Fer- rari] in terms of race pace," he said. "You can see as well there is a difference between qualifying pace and race pace. Our race pace is more competitive than our qualify- ing pace. "We have plenty of poten- tial and performance to un- lock. Fernando knows what is coming, what we have but we can't use today, but it will be unlocked in the future races. We have already a lot of things coming which we couldn't have brought here." Fernando Alonso driving Renault-powered McLaren at the 2018 Australian Grand Prix NEGOTIATIONS to get An- thony Joshua and Deontay Wilder in the ring for a huge world heavyweight unifica- tion fight will begin this week, according to Barry Hearn. Negotiations to get Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder in the ring for a huge world heav- yweight unification fight will begin this week, according to Barry Hearn. Joshua was solid if unspec- tacular in his points victory over Joseph Parker, which saw him add the WBO title to his WBA and IBF belts. It now leaves just Wilder's WBC title to make Joshua the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, and Hearn expects talks to start right away to set up that mon- ster showdown. Hearn, chairman and founder of Joshua's promot- ers Matchroom, spoke to BBC Radio Five Live's Sports- week programme to give his thoughts on the potential match-up. "I think negotiations will start next week," said Hearn. "It is a fight Anthony Joshua really wants and I think he wants it this year." Negotiations with the Wild- er camp have been tricky to say the least, with Eddie Hearn saying they've not been in touch about the poten- tial dust-up. Wilder, though, seemed to accept the chal- lenge with his social media response to the fight. Joshua has said he would like the bout to take place in the United Kingdom but Hearn senior is not ruling out the possibility of it happening in the United States if the terms are right. Matchroom view Joshua as a much bigger drawing card in the UK than Wilder is in the US. Taking Joshua across the Atlantic would be more about promoting Joshua in the US than acceding to Wilder de- mands. "Anthony Joshua wants all the belts - that is the big card Deontay Wilder has got to play (but) commercially, Josh- ua is far bigger than Deontay Wilder. "I think Wilder would come over here because in the world we live in, in boxing, the cou- ple of million dollars Wilder is getting for a fight is pretty small fry in comparison to the rewards that await him for a Joshua fight. Travelling is not usually a problem if the mon- ey is right. "But I still think in the long term, if Anthony sits down and thinks it through, he may come to the decision that to be a truly global sport star he needs to go to America - not just for the money - but, in terms of the brand value of AJ, fighting in America is going to be on his horizon. "I wouldn't rule out AJ fight- ing in America despite his comments last night." Joshua and Wilder may have one more fight each before facing each other - Dillian Whyte is also in the mix af- ter his demolition of Lucas Browne cemented his stand- ing as the mandatory chal- lenger for Wilder. Alexander Povetkin, mean- while, is the mandatory chal- lenger for Joshua after his bru- tal knockout win over David Price. Anthony Joshua Deontay Wilder

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