Dana White interested in signing Anthony Joshua
By Tim Royner: UFC boss Dana White is interested in signing IBF/WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua to his boxing stable. White is getting into the boxing promotion business, and he is reportedly interested in inking the 28-year-old Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs).
There’s one problem, however. Joshua is currently promoted by Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, and he’s happy where he’s at. Joshual’s contract with Matchroom has approximately a year left. You can bet that if the money that White is offering Joshua is more than what he’ll be getting for his next contract with his British promoters, it’ll be very tempting for him.
White is interest in signing Joshua to a multi-fight deal for $500 million, according to the Daily Telegraph. If White could add Joshua to his stable, he’d immediately be a major play in boxing. Joshua is still young at 28, and he could have another 10 to 15 years left as a top fighter in the sport. With Joshua as his main money guy, White would rule the heavyweight division. The only question would be is whether White could turn Joshua into a pay-per-view star in the U.S. That might prove to be an insurmountable task, especially with the way he’s dragging his feet at the prospects of fighting WBC heavyweight champion Deontay ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder.
Joshua’s promoter Hearn jokingly said that his next move will be for him to sign UFC star Conor McGregor to turn him into a boxing star. McGregor is signed with the UFC, although he hasn’t competed since 2016 with that organization. It’s unclear whether McGregor ever will after getting a huge $100 million payday against Floyd Mayweather Jr. last August.
“Listen, I’m riding with Eddie. I’ve been riding with Eddie. He got me from the get-go,” Joshua said to ESPN.com. “I’m not into the UFC, so I don’t know what their plans are. … I’m interested because we can all work together. Remember, mine and Eddie’s relationship is a really good working relationship. And I’m sure Eddie has an interest in working with Dana White. If it’s good business, it makes sense,” Joshua said.
Joshua is not interested in competing in the UFC. He makes that quite clear. If White wants to sign him, it would have to be for boxing and not MMA. White will be in attendance for Joshua’s unification fight in nine days from now against WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) on March 31 at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. The Joshua-Parker fight will be televised on Showtime Boxing at 5:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. PT. White is said to be meeting with the 28-year-old Joshua while he’s at the fight.
If White has the huge money to pay Joshua, then you never know what could be worked out. Perhaps a co-promotional deal can be made. If Joshua can get $500 million, that’s a lot of money and it would obviously be hard for him to turn down. Joshua could wind up the first billion dollar boxer with money like that.
“We’ll listen and 100 percent, if it makes sense we’re all ears, man,” Joshua said to ESPN.com. ”I’m happy that Dana is coming into the game. Hopefully, he can add some excitement and we can progress forward and make some good money and make some good fights.”
With a year left on his contract with Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, it wouldn’t be surprising if Joshua does wind up with White down the road. Hearn might find himself in a bidding war to try and keep Joshua when his contract expires. It sounds like White has a lot of money to play with in wanting to sign Joshua. The problem is though is if Joshua is in charge of who he fights, it might be difficult for White to maximize the amount of money from having him with his new boxing stable. For instance, if Joshua decides he doesn’t want to fight Deontay Wilder, and instead he chooses to face guys like Dillian Whyte, Jarrell Miller and Alexander Povetkin, then those fights won’t generate the huge money.
If White has total control over who Joshua fights, he can match him up with Deontay Wilder three times in a row, and then look to match him against Luis Ortiz for a couple of fights. In other words, Joshua’s fights would be maximized to take advantage of the fights that the boxing fans actually want to see. You can’t sell Joshua’s fights against Whyte, Povetkin or Miller in the U.S. The only ones that would interest the U.S fans are Wilder and possibly Ortiz. If Joshua blocks those fights and wants to be the guy calling the shots, then it might not be a good deal for Dana White to sign him.
”He’ll have to double that, I think,” Hearn said to secondsout.com when told that White is interested in giving Joshua $500 million to sign with his boxing promotion. ”I’d love to sit down with Dana.If he wants to talk to AJ, he’ll talk to me. As AJ said last night, he’s happy for me to sit down with him and see what he’s got to say. Anthony makes his own decisions, who he fights. We see Anthony working with us for the remainder of his career. Whether there were someone else involved in America, if it were a great deal and it worked, I would never rule anything out like that. Of course, he’d be interested in making Joshua an offer. Who wouldn’t? If you’re a promoter, every promoter in the game wants to make Anthony Joshua an offer. Most have. But then he has a legal problem,” Hearn said about the possibility of White taking Joshua away from Matchroom Boxing. “Ultimately, Joshua’s response was, ‘If he wants to sit down with Eddie, no problem. ‘ I respect Dana White, because he’s a great promoter. I feel like I’m the best boxing promoter in the world, but he’s the best MMA promoter in the world, so why not? If he wants to nick Anthony Joshua off me, then that’s another story,” Hearn said.
Hearn looked more than a little worried during the interview. He was smiling through most of it, but he looked worried nonetheless. Losing Joshua to Dana White a year from now would be a major blow to Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing stable, as he doesn’t have anyone nearly as possible. Hearn signed Amir Khan recently, but his career will likely be finished after he faces Kell Brook and loses. Hearn thinks Brook can become a world champion at 154, but it might not work out for him if he faces any of the good fighters in the division. Brook can probably beat Sadam Ali, but he’s viewed as a paper champion by a lot of fans. Brook lacks the popularity to replace a major star like Joshua if he signs with White or another promoter.
Hearn thinks Joshua is going to stay with his promotional company for the remainder of his career. We’ll have to see though. When Joshua’s contract with Matchoom expires in a year from now, it’ll be awfully tempting for him if he’s receiving an offer of $500 million to sign with a different promoter. Hearn might find out that it’s not going to be as easy to re-sign Joshua if he’s got someone competing with him that is willing to pay him $500 million.
Joshua has a fight against WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker at the end of the month on March 31. If Joshua loses that fight or if he loses a unification fight with Deontay Wilder after that, we’ll see if the interest from Dana White in signing him remains high. If Joshua is brought back down to earth with a crushing defeat, he might not be viewed as a great asset to White’s new boxing promotion.