Deontay Wilder agrees to Anthony Joshua fight in UK
By Scott Gilfoid: Deontay Wilder has agreed to a unification fight against Anthony Joshua to take place in the UK, and contract will be sent out this week to the WBC champion to sign, according to promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing.
Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) doesn’t mind that he’ll be at a huge disadvantage fighting in the UK. The 6’7” Wilder believes he can take the judges, crowd and referee out of the equation to make sure he doesn’t end up losing like Joshua’s last two opponents Joseph Parker and Wladimir Klitschko.
The unbeaten IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua will have the home advantage in putting up his three world titles, while Deontay will have his WBC strap on the line. The winner of the contest will be the unified heavyweight champion in holding all four major tiles in the division. This is technically a big deal, but in reality it won’t be nearly as important due to the lack of depth in the heavyweight division. There are only three talented heavyweights – Joshua, Wilder and Luis Ortiz – in the division. Once you get beyond these three fighters, the talent drops off dramatically.
“We have agreed to the terms that Eddie (Hearn) has put out to us for a fight in the UK,” Wilder’s co-manager Shelly Finkel said to ESPN.com. “Deontay sent an email to Joshua on Sunday night and I sent one today to Barry Hearn and Eddie telling them that we officially accept the offer to fight under the terms they gave us and to send us the contract.”
Wilder and his team are so confident of victory that they are willing to agree to the offer, which is likely badly slanted in Joshua’s favor. The thing is, if Wilder, 32, beats Joshua, the money will increase in the rematch for the American heavyweight. He’ll get a far better deal in the rematch, and it’s quite possible that he might be able to get Joshua to come to the U.S for the second fight.
Hearn has repeatedly said recently that a deal between Joshua and his WBA mandatory Alexander Povetkin are close to being finalized. However, the fight that Joshua preferred to take is against Wilder, who is viewed as the second best heavyweight in the division by many boxing fans. The soon to be 39-year-old Povekin, 6’2”, isn’t seen as being in the same league as Wilder due to his limited size and advanced age. The negotiations between Team Wilder and Joshua’s promoter Hearn have been ongoing since AJ defeated WBO champion Joseph Parker by a 12 round unanimous decision last March. Hearn’s initial offer to Wilder was an embarrassingly low $12.5 million flat fee, which didn’t include any of the revenue from the gate or pay-per-view. It was simply a $12.5 flat fee and nothing else. The Joshua-Wilder fight is expected to make over $100 million, which means that if Wilder’s team had agreed to the deal, Joshua would make potentially $90+ million compared to Wilder’s $12.5 million. In other words, we’re talking about a 90-10 purse split in favor of Joshua. It was an insane offer by Hearn, who looked amateurish with this offer. That’s the kind of offer you would see from a promoter used to putting together domestic level fights, but not super fights at the world level.
Wilder’s trainer Jay Deas revealed that they accepted a much smaller purse than the $50 million that was offered – and rejected – by Joshua to take the fight. Deas says the Joshua vs. Wilder fight will make far less money in the UK than it would if it took place in the U.S, but they agreed to it anyway due to Deontay wanting to take the fight for his legacy.
“They offered and we accepted. We offered $50m, which is what he said he wanted and then he turned it down,” Deas said to AP. “Then they came back with a much, much, much smaller offer for Deontay, which would have been even less than Deontay would have made in the United States, and wanted him to still travel to the UK for the fight. And we said,’ yes,’” Deas said.
The magical question is why did Wilder and his team agree to a much smaller offer than what they wanted? They should have stuck to their guns and insisted on more money, and making the fight in the U.S. Even if Joshua had turned it down, the fight would eventually happen sooner or later, and under better terms for Wilder. He’s not going anywhere and neither is Joshua. With the way Joshua’s promoter Hearn is matching him, he can probably continue winning for the next 10 years before he starts losing. Hearn has taken a lot of criticism for not matching Joshua against heavyweights like Luis Ortiz and David Haye years ago before the two of them started to age
If Joshua beats Wilder, he’ll be defending against Povetkin next. Joshua wants to win all the heavyweight titles and then defend them for as long as possible. It’s a nice goal for Joshua to have. I’m not sure that he’ll be able to hold onto his heavyweight titles beyond his next fight against Wilder due to the American talent bringing his own judges and referee in the form of his two fists. Joshua has had things his own way fighting in the UK in front of his own boxing fans, who have pulled him through tough fights that he could have lost to Wladimir Klitschko and Carlos Takam. The home crowd has been a huge advantage for Joshua. Likewise, Joshua was helped in his last two fights by the decisions the referees have made in how they officiated his fights against Takam and Parker. The referee prematurely stopped Joshua’s fight against Takam in the 10th round after he slightly stunned the visiting fighter. Takam was not badly hurt, but it didn’t matter. The referee still stopped the contest and gave Joshua a knockout victory. In Joshua’s fight against Parker, the referee prevented Joseph from fighting on the inside by breaking the action continually when he would try and work on the inside.
”He knows that being the undisputed heavyweight champ of the world will give him the financial gain as he proceeds,” Deas said. “Even though we would have liked a better deal, Deontay said, ‘yes,’” Deas continued.
There’s a lot of money Wilder can make if he beats Joshua. With AJ’s big ego, he would absolutely insist on a rematch straightaway, and Hearn will likely be fit to be tied, furious at seeing his gravy train ighter lose for the first time. Hearn would know that a rematch would absolutely need to happen for the gold to keep raining on his Matchroom Sport parade.