Hearn hints Joshua has decided Wilder fight MUST take place in UK
By Scott Gilfoid: Eddie Hearn seems to have spilled the beans on Saturday in positing a comment on social media that the UK fans won’t need to travel IF the Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder unification fight takes place this year. This means that Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) has made up his mind that he absolutely wants the unification fight with the unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion Deontay (40-0, 39 KOs) to take place in the UK or not at all. This, of course, is not going to fly with Team Wilder, as they’re the ones that have offered Joshua $5
0 million for the fight. Normally when the money side of the fight is putting up the money, they get to choose dates and venues for the fight. So, for Hearn to be saying that the Joshua-Wilder fight will be taking place in the UK or not at all, it looks like he’s trying to flip the script.
“You won’t need to travel if it happens,” Eddie Hearn said on his Twitter on Saturday in dropping a huge hint that the Deontay Wilder vs. Anthony Joshua fight will take place in the UK.
So, there it is. Eddie letting the fans know Joshua vs. Wilder won’t be happening next. I hate to say it, but Hearn is basically telling the boxing fans that the Joshua-Wilder fight WON’T be happening. That’s the gist of it. Joshua will be fighting his WBA mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin next, not Wilder. Oh well, I never thought for a second that Joshua was going to fight Wilder in his next fight anyway, so it’s no surprise to me. I didn’t think for a second that Joshua and Hearn fancy the fight with the talented 6’7” Deontay, and the reason for that is they have too much of a good thing going right now in the UK. Joshua, 28, makes oodles of money fighting practically anyone. It doesn’t matter who Hearn carts in front of AJ, the UK boxing fans turn out in enormous numbers, filling stadiums, and purchasing his fight on Sky Box Office PPV in high numbers. This isn’t like in the U.S, where fighters must fight high-quality, popular opposition in order to bring in a lot of PPV buys. It doesn’t matter who Hearn signs up for Joshua to fight, the fans are willing to pay to see the fights (read: mismatches). There’s too much gravy for Joshua and Hearn to make in the UK from the gate and PPV for them to fight Deontay in the U.S in a risky fight. I mean, Joshua seems to be shaky and lacking self-confidence. When he’s met with adversity, like in his fights against Wladimir Klitschko and Carlos Takam, he disappears for and looks beatable. It’s Joshua’s fans that wake him up and gives him confidence with their cheering and support when things are looking bleak for him. We saw that in Joshua’s fights with Takam and Wladimir. I think Hearn is worried that if Joshua fights in the States without his adoring fans to cheer him on, he’ll get knocked out by a confident Wilder.
If this were former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis that we were talking about, it wouldn’t even be a question of whether he would fight in the U.S or not. Lewis never had qualms about fighting in the U.S. Lewis never insisted that his dangerous fights against Tommy Morrison, Oliver McCall, Evander Holyfield and Hasim Rahman take place in the UK. Lewis was willing to fight in the U.S away from his British boxing fans, and yet he still did well. I think mentally, Lewis was cut from a different set of cloth than Joshua. Lewis didn’t need the cheering from the fans, and he didn’t need the back slappers to give him confidence to win his fights. He did it on his own. I think was a much better fighter with far superior amateur pedigree than Joshua. Lewis’s 1988 Olympic gold medal victory wasn’t controversial like Joshua’s 2012 Olympic gold medal win over Roberto Cammarelle in London, England.
Hearn is likely going to come up with a good rationale to explain why Joshua rejected the idea of fighting Wilder in the U.S. I can see Hearn saying, ‘Joshua wants to please his UK fans, so that’s why we said no to fighting Deontay in the United States.’ The fans will buy that excuse, of course, and it’ll be quickly forgotten. The downside is there won’t be a fight between Joshua and Wilder, because there is absolutely no way on earth that Deontay’s managers are going to agree to state the fight in the UK when they’re the ones giving Joshua a $50 million offer for his purse. I mean, when your side is the one guaranteeing the money, you’re supposed to be able to choose the venue for the fight. That’s usually how it works. For Hearn to be hinting that the Joshua-Wilder fight will be taking place in the UK, it shows that he’s bucking that traditional idea. Why would Hearn do that? I think it’s because he or Joshua don’t fancy the fight with Wilder. The best way to make sure the fight doesn’t happen is to insist that it takes place in the UK. It’s a tactical move that lets Team Wilder know that they’re not interested in the fight against him. But at the same time, the excuse won’t make Joshua look nearly as bad as it would if he just spelled it out and said, ‘I don’t fancy the idea of getting inside the ring with Deontay and possibly getting knocked out by him.’
After Wilder’s team’s offer of $50 million for the Joshua fight, Hearn wanted to make sure the money was there. Now that it appears that it is there, Hearn is saying that the fight needs to take place in the UK instead of the U.S. Wilder’s team has come up with money to get Joshua to fight outside of the UK, and yet Hearn still expects Deontay to come to the UK to fight. Joshua is not the British heavyweight champion. He’s a world champion, and he’s supposed to be able to fight around the world when defending his IBF/WBA heavyweight titles, especially when his opponents’ management has come up with the money offer to make the fight happen. If Hearn says, ‘I’m doing it for the fans,’ it’s going to sound so transparently phony on his part. I don’t think it’s about the boxing fans at all. I see it as a way of keeping the Joshua gravy train on the tracks without risk. Traveling to the U.S to fight a knockout artist like Wilder is very risky for a heavyweight with poor stamina and shaky self-confidence like Joshua. I don’t Hearn wants any part of putting Joshua in Deontay and potentially seeing his revenue stream interrupted with a bad one-punch knockout loss for AJ.
Hearn will probably justify his decision to have the Joshua-Wilder fight only take place in the UK by saying that AJ is the A-side, and that Wilder doesn’t rate telling him the fight should take place in the U.S. Wilder’s not going to cringe and bow to Hearn’s demands. Deontay is the money guy in this case, and he wants the fight to take place in the U.S. If Joshua wants the fight with Wilder, then he’s going to need to come over to the U.S and fight in Las Vegas, Nevada or wherever Team Deontay wants the match to take place. Birmingham, Alabama would be a great venue for the Joshua vs. Wilder fight. Deontay packs in tons of his boxing fans when he fights in Birmingham.
I think I speak for everybody when I say that it’s time that Joshua stop fighting at home all the time and get in a plane and fly over to the U.S to fight Deontay. Joshua must fight outside of the UK sooner or later. He can’t fight at home for his entire career, can he? Joshua has been fighting at home in front of his own fans the UK since the 2012 London Olympics, winning a controversial gold medal. He hasn’t left the UK to fight anyone. It’s been very convenient for Joshua. In Joshua’s last fight against WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker in Cardiff, Wales, you had controversy after the referee kept the action from being fought on the inside. Many boxing fans saw that as Joshua being given preferential treatment from the referee. Joshua not fighting outside of the UK gives the impression to some that he’s not capable of winning unless he’s in home territory.