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Joshua likely to face WBO mandatory on April 13

By Scott Gilfoid: Eddie Hearn says he’s worried that WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and his team still hasn’t announced the Tyson Fury fight for December. Hearn worries that the Wilder-Fury fight won’t take place, because the press conference hasn’t been announced yet and the fight is less than three months away now.


Hearn wants to negotiate to have the Wilder-Fury winner of the fight, which figures to be Wilder, face Joshua on April 13 at Wembley Stadium in London, England. IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) defends against his WBO mandatory Alexander Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) this Saturday night at Wembley Stadium. Hearn says that after Joshua finishes dealing with Povetkin, they’ll have only three weeks to negotiate a fight for an opponent to face him on April 13 at Wembley Stadium.

One problem that Hearn has is he’s still stuck on offering Wilder the same terms as he did when he was negotiating with him in June for a September fight. Wilder agreed to a flat fee of $15 million for that fight, but then Hearn chose to match Joshua against Povetkin because he didn’t want him to lose his WBA title after the World Boxing Association ordered him to defend against him. Wilder changed his mind after that, saying that he now wanted a 50-50 deal.

Hearn dismissed that notion, and sent Wilder a contract for him to sign for April 13 to fight Joshua at the same terms that he had originally agreed upon for a September fight. It’s pretty clear that the Joshua vs. Wilder fight WON’T get made given Hearn’s reluctance to change the terms of the offer to make it a 50-50 deal. Not offering Wilder a percentage deal is a clear signal that Hearn doesn’t see the negotiations as equal. The problem is Wilder isn’t going to let Hearn do that. He wants an even deal, and until he gets it, he’s not going to agree to the fight.

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”We’re ready to go. We’ve already sent a signed contract on the terms they agreed,” Hearn said to ESPN.com about how he sent Wilder the same contract with the $15 million flat fee offer. “We need to know if they [Wilder’s camp] want the fight in April. If Anthony beats Povetkin, we’ve probably got two, three weeks to make the Wilder fight — otherwise we’ll have to fight a WBO mandatory [Dillian Whyte], Hearn said.

Joshua’s World Boxing Organization mandatory challenger is Matchoom fighter Dillian Whyte, who Hearn already wants to match against AJ. Whyte doesn’t even need to be the WBO mandatory for Hearn to want to make that fight with Joshua. Even before the possibility of the WBO ordering the mandatory defense came up, Hearn wanted to match Whyte against Joshua on April 13. Hearn already said weeks ago that if Wilder doesn’t agree to the $15 million flat fee offer for the April 13 fight against Joshua, then Whyte and Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller are the leading candidates to get the fight. Hearn promotes both of those fighters.

Hearn still doubts that the Wilder-Fury fight will happen. He says he hopes it does take place, but he has doubts that it will despite both fighters repeatedly saying that the fight will take place. They believe that Hearn is green with envy that their big fight is taking place and that few boxing fans are excited about the Joshua-Povetkin fight, which is receiving scant attention. The Wilder vs. Fury fight is a much, much bigger fight than Joshua’s match against Povetkin, even though the fight is expected to bring in a lot of boxing fans to see it live this Saturday at Wembley Stadium. A lot of those fans would passively come see Joshua fight even if he were facing an unknown journeyman. Joshua has gotten to the point in his career where it doesn’t matter who he faces. The boxing fans still come and see him fight.

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Hearn compares the Joshua vs. Povetkin fight to the Joshua-Klitschko fight from last year at Wembley Stadium. Povetkin, 39, is almost as old as the then 41-year-old Wladimir was when he fought Joshua in 2017. I mean, if you want to compare the two fights, you can do so based on age of Joshua’s opponents in those fights, but that’s about it. The 6’2” Povetkin is nothing like the 6’6” Klitschko in terms of size, power, speed and talent. Klitschko was a much better fighter than Povetkin is now. Wladimir wiped the deck with Povetkin in beating him by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision in 2013. If Povetkin is able to land something big on Joshua on Saturday, then that’s about the only chance of winning. The height and reach will be in Joshua’s favor along with his age.

Whyte, 30, earned his WBO mandatory spot in defeating Joseph Parker by a controversial 12 round decision on July 28. It was an ugly victory for Whyte in which he referee Ian John Lewis blew a call in round 2 in giving him credit for a knockdown of Parker after he rammed heads with him. Parker was dropped by a head-butt, and Lewis scored it as a knockdown. Whyte fouled frequently and got away with it. The fight was poorly officiated from start to finish.

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