Deontay Wilder ready to sign contract for Anthony Joshua fight
By Scott Gilfoid: WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and his team are prepared to make the fight with IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua as long as minor changes are made in the contract for the fight. According to ESPN, Wilder’s manager Shelly Finkel is ready to get the fight done as long as “small changes” are made in the contact by Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing.
Whether Hearn is willing to make the changes is the important question. Hearn and Joshua have been insistent from the start of the negotiations to have things their way. If they choose to be stubborn about the negotiations by not agreeing to the small changes, then the fight could go down the train. In that case, Joshua will wind up facing WBA mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin, and Wilder will probably face World Boxing Council mandatory Dominic Breazeale. Wilder, 32, might be willing to give Joshua and Hearn the points in order to get the fight done. We’ll have to see.
“I’m sending him back the contracts with a couple of notes,” Finkel said to ESPN.com. “Hopefully, there is no problem and we’ll sign right after the changes are made.”
Wilder’s manager Finkel agreed to the financial counter offer from Hearn as well as having the fight take place in the UK. Hearn originally offered Wilder a small $12.5 million flat fee, which was only a trifle when you realize that the fight could make over $100 million. In essence, Hearn was offering Wilder a 90-10 split. Some saw that as a highly insulting offer. I saw it as more of the same type of negotiating Hearn had done for the Joshua vs. Joseph Parker fight, which started with a low ball offer from him to the New Zealander’s management.
Finkel isn’t saying what he wants to have changed in the contract. The fight is expected to take place later this year in the all in Cardiff, Wales at the same venue that Joshua has fought in his last two fights. Joshua, 28, likes to fight at the Principality Stadium where he draws large crowds no matter who he fights. The last time Joshua fought in Cardiff was against WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker in a fight that was hard to watch due to the referee deciding he wasn’t going to let any inside fighting whatsoever. This move by the referee crippled he visiting fighter Parker’s game by forcing him fight on the outside against the taller Joshua. To say te fight was unfair to Parker is an understatement.
For Finkel and Wilder to be dragging their feet on the so-called “small changes” they want made in the contract, it has to be something significant. Finkel is calling them minor issues, but it’s more likely something huge enough for them to not want to put pen to paper. Given that Joshua already has everything else in his favor, it’s not surprising that Finkel is finally putting his foot down and insisting on changes being made to the contract.
This week, Hearn was complaining that Wilder and his team don’t want the fight with Joshua because they were sitting on the contract and not signing for it. Hearn had assumed that once Wilder’s team got a hold of the contract, they would sign for the fight straightaway rather than just sitting on it and doing nothing. Hearn has gotten so used to having the management for Joshua’s opponents sign so quickly that he would get the same thing with Wilder’s management. Unfortunately for Hearn, Deontay Wilder is a world champion and a proud one at that. He wasn’t going to just fall in lock step and agree to whatever contract that Hearn and Joshua threw together for him to sign.
“We made them an offer firstly, they didn’t even reply,” Hearn said to skysports.com. “They made us an offer. We asked to see a contract. They refused to send one. We made them another offer; after nearly four weeks they accepted and asked for a contract and we sent them one. If they want the fight they will sign it. I can’t quite make out whether people are lying to Deontay about the negotiations or he is just completely deluded. I saw an interview with him (Sunday) saying he is actually two people, Deontay Wilder and the ‘Bronze Bomber,’ so I’m siding with deluded. It’s not complicated. We have set out the terms of the deal, we put it in a contract and sent it to him.”
As you can see, Hearn sounds like a promoter who has very little patience with the negotiation process, and is too accustomed to having things his own way. When a promoter becomes spoiled, as Hearn is sounding now, it makes for a labored negotiation process. If Hearn stepped back and realized that he’s trying to put together a unification fight, not a world title defense for Joshua against one of the fringe contenders, it would be much easier for Hearn to put a fight together between the two champions.
”I believe Deontay and his team do not want this fight,” Hearn said.
Wilder clearly wants to face Joshua, as he sees weakness in him and he thinks he can knock him out. Finkel made Joshua a $50 million offer to fight Wilder in the U.S, which was quickly rejected by him. Joshua wants no part of giving up home country advantage and facing Wilder in the States. It doesn’t matter that Joshua would be getting $50 million guaranteed for the fight. It was a surprise to a lot of boxing fans that Wilder’s management offered AJ $50 million smackers, and it was an even bigger surprise that he quickly rejected the offer. That showed the world how much Joshua feared Wilder, because if he believed in himself, he would have readily accepted it and faced him in the States. But if you look at things from Joshua’s perspective, you can understand why he said no the $50M offer. After all, Joshua was within an eyelash of being knocked out by 41-year-old Wladimir Klitschko last year. Joshua would have been knocked out if Wladimir had the sense enough to know that he had to finish him because he likely would have never won the fight by a decision at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Wladimir’s late trainer Emanuel Steward would have recognized what he was up against, and he would have pushed him to knock the badly hurt and gassed out Joshua once he had him on the brink of defeat in the 6th.
Finkel says Wilder absolutely wants the fight with Joshua, and he actually wants the fight a lot more. That’s easy to believe because Wilder has been pushing for the fight for two years without much interest from AJ’s part. Some boxing fans feel that Hearn and Joshua have intentionally waited until Wilder turned 32 before making the fight in order to age him enough to guarantee the victory. I don’t know if that’s true, but if it is, I think it won’t work. Wilder is still looking very good right now and not showing signs of age. Joshua needs to make the fight while he still can because if something happens, the interest in the fight between them could die down to nothing.