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Joshua wants Wilder to negotiate April fight before he faces Fury in December

Alexander Povetkin Anthony Joshua Deontay Wilder

By Tim Royner: Anthony Joshua is in agreement with his promoter Eddie Hearn that if WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) wants to fight him on April 13, he needs to negotiate the fight before he faces Tyson Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) on December 1. This can be translated to mean that Joshua and Hearn have decided already to take the Dillian Whyte fight on April 13 instead of Wilder. Joshua’s insistence that Wilder start negotiations right now before the December 1 fight with Fury can be construed as code to mean, ‘I don’t want to fight you on April 13.’

Like Hearn, Joshua doesn’t want to wait until the 6’7” Wilder’s fight with Fury has concluded before he begins negotiations for the April 13 fight. Joshua insists that the negotiations with Wilder must start before he fights Fury on December 1. Joshua, 28, won’t wait for the Wilder-Fury fight to be completed before he starts negotiating his next fight in April at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Joshua’s rationale for wanting the negotiations with Wilder to start before his December fight against Fury is he wants to know who he’s facing in April before 2018 ends. Joshua doesn’t want to wonder who he’s facing on the April 13 fight before the end of the year. He wants to know for sure. Of course, you can argue that Joshua and Hearn’s request that Wilder start negotiating the fight with them before he faces Fury is a way for them to weasel a discounted rate from him. Wilder’s worth in terms of his negotiating position is expected to sky rocket after he beats Fury. Forcing Wilder to negotiate a fight with him before the Fury fight is a way to get him to be in a weakened position to come in at a discount. It’s a sneaky move by Joshua and Hearn, but it’s up to Wilder to see what they’re attempting to do and tell them that he’s not falling for that trick.

“We’ve been trying to negotiate with their team after the Carlos Takam fight,” Joshua said about Wilder at the post-fight press conference last Saturday. “Then I had to fight Joseph Parker, and carried on the negotiating, then had to fight my mandatory [Povetkin]. I don’t want to wait until December for him [Wilder] to finish this fight [against Tyson Fury], have a rest, and then start negotiating because I want to start training for a fight, again, early January. So I want to kind of get my fight penciled in as soon as possible this side of the year so I know what I’m going to do next year. But it seems like those negotiations take a long time, but as I said, there’s a lot of room for all the heavyweights. So if Wilder is not serious, there are other people out there. When he’s ready, we’re ready. As Eddie said, hopefully we can get that deal signed and delivered before December so I can start planning my future,” Joshua said.

It sounds clear that Joshua wants to put Wilder in a position where he’ll either agree to the negotiations now and end up in a weaker position to get his asking price of 50% or have him walk away from the bargaining table altogether. What that would mean is Joshua will wind up facing fellow Matchroom fighter Dillian Whye on April 13, which you can argue is precisely what Hearn seems to want for him. Having Joshua fight Whyte on April 13 keeps the money in house for Matchoom Boxing, and it puts Hearn’s fighter in a position where he faces much less risk. Whyte is a good fighter, but he’s more of a slapper than a puncher and therefore he’s less of a risky fight for Joshua than Wilder would be. This would be a business move on Hearn and Joshua’s part in taking the easier fight against Whyte, who he already beat before in 2015 in stopping him in the 7th round.

Joshua and Hearn haven’t said whether Dillian Whyte will need to agree to negotiations for an April 13 fight before he faces Dereck Chisora on December 22. It’s going to look peculiar if Joshua doesn’t start negotiations with Whyte until after his December 22 fight with Chisora. If that turns out to be the case, then it would be patently obvious that Joshua ducked the Wilder fight, as many boxing fans feel that he did in choosing to face Alexander Povekin on September 22 instead of him.

Here’s what Hearn said about Wilder needing to negotiate the Joshua fight before his December 1 fight with Fury:

”We’re not willing to wait until December. We can wait until December to see, but a deal must be done well in advance of that subject to winning that bout.”

A big win for Wilder over Fury is going to greatly increase his negotiating muscle for a fight against Joshua. Instead of negotiating from the point of weakness, where Wilder is now, he would be the A-side and able to ask for 50% of the revenue for the fight with Joshua. Wilder currently isn’t in the position to ask for an even split for a fight with Joshua, but that’ll change if he detonates one of his big right hands on the chin of Fury to KO him on December 1.

Hearn and Joshua are on the same page in trying to get Wilder to agree to start negotiations now before he faces Fury. I’m not sure if they’ll succeed in getting Wilder to agree to negotiations now, but it’s worth a try on their part.

It wouldn’t be good on Joshua’s part to face Wilder on April 13 off the performance AJ had against Povetkin. Joshua was hurt by Povetkin in the 1st round, and he was lucky to survive with just a broken nose. If that was Wilder that was the one that had Joshua in bad shape in round one, the fight likely would have ended right then and there on the spot. Joshua might know that himself that he would have been knocked out by Wilder. Povetkin was arguably a washed up fighter, and a small one at that with him weighing only 223 pounds. Wilder will have the reach advantage over Joshua, and it’ll be a much different type of fight than the one that we’re used to seeing from AJ. Joshua normally has a big reach advantage over his opponents, which lets him stand on the outside and jab them to pick them apart slowly. Against Wilder, Joshua is going to need to figure out another way for him to get over because it won’t be as easy for him as it’s been in the past with the way his promoter Hearn has been selectively matching him.

Joshua’s decision to try and force Wilder to negotiate with him now before his December 1 fight comes off like he doesn’t want any part of a fight with him. It just further reinforces the belief that a lot of boxing fans have that Joshua doesn’t want any of this smoke from Wilder. Joshua seems like he’s afraid of Wilder for some reason, and the more that he talks, it just seems more clear that he doesn’t want any part of the Alabama knockout artist. Joshua can change that perception if he waits for the Wilder-Fury fight to play out before he starts negotiations with Wilder, and if he gives him the percentage split that he feels is fair.

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