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Anthony Joshua only wants Deontay Wilder on April 13

Anthony Joshua Deontay Wilder Tyson Fury

By Scott Gilfoid: Anthony Joshua says he only wants to fight WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) on April 13, and he’s not interested in facing Tyson Fury on that date due to him not holding one of the world title belts that he recognizes. IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) doesn’t care that Fury is a lineal heavyweight champion. He just wants to face belt holders. Joshua says he wants Wilder to come to the negotiating table so the two of them can decide what they’re worth when it comes to the purse split for the fight.

Joshua’s insistence on only fighting someone with a world title belt is an odd one, as his promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing has Dillian Whyte as the lead option, and Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller as the #2 guy for AJ’s April 13 fight at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Whyte and Miller are NOT world champions. The chances are high Joshua will be facing one of those two fighters on April 13, not Deontay Wilder. Since it really doesn’t matter whether a heavyweight holds a title or not, as far as Joshua’s promoter Hearn is concerned for the April 13 date, Fury should be in the running for that fight.

“Like I said, I only want to fight Deontay Wilder on April 13 in London,” Joshua said to ESPN’s First Take. I don’t know what more I have to do to get the message across. He’s more interested in fighting Tyson Fury. Tyson Fury holds no world titles,” Joshua said.

Joshua supposedly wants to fight Wilder, but it makes one wonder if that’s truly the case. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn’s flat fee offers, and his talk of Wilder deserving a smaller percentage for the fight with AJ looks like there’s no real serious interest in making that fight. When Hearn talks of Wilder deserving little more than a quarter of the purse for a fight against Joshua, it’s a clear signal that there’t not going to be a fight between the two heavyweights, ever. As long as Hearn holds to the line that Wilder doesn’t rate more than one-fourth of the purse, a fight between them will never happen. Joshua should be happy with his three world titles. He holds the IBF, WBA and WBO belts. Those are the titles Wladimir Klitschko once held, and he’s viewed as a better fighter than Joshua in terms of talent. Since there’s no way that Hearn and Joshua can force Wilder to accept their lower percentage offers, they need to move on and focus on fighting the likes of Whyte, Miller and Kubrat Pulev.

“I can’t control what Deontay Wilder does, and what Tyson Fury does,” Joshua said. “I made sure in the negotiations that I booked the date [April 13] in advance. I’ve set the venue in advance, and I’ve made my point clear for everyone watching. I’m willing to fight anyone of those guys, especially champion Deontay Wilder on April 13. I’m not interested in Tyson Fury, because he’s not the champion,” Joshua said.

The mistake that Joshua has made in going about the negotiations for the Wilder fight is him letting his promoter do things that have worked against the fight from taking place. One of those things was for Hearn to supposedly send Deontay a pre-filled contract with the old terms of the previous negotiations in hopes that he would add his signature for the April 13 date. Wilder had reportedly agreed to a flat fee offer of $15 million for a fight with Joshua in September. However, instead of taking the fight with Wilder, Joshua and Hearn moved on and took a fight with Alexander Povetkin on September 22. Wilder was visibly frustrated by this move on Joshua’s part, and he then decided that he was no longer willing to agree to a flat fee. Wilder wanted a 50-50 purse split. With Wilder’s surging popularity from his fight against Fury on December 1, he’s now in the position to get 50% of the loot for the Joshua fight.

If Hearn doesn’t want to meet Wilder’s asking price, then he’ll simply put Joshua on ignore and go ahead and face Fury in the rematch in the first quarter of 2019. An impressive win for Wilder in the Fury rematch might even drive up his asking price even more for a fight against Joshua. Who knows? Wilder might even ask for a 55-45 split for the Joshua fight if he destroys Fury next year. Wilder vs. Fury brought in an estimated 325,000 PPV buys on SHOWTIME. When you look at the cost of the PPV in the States, it comes out to what some feel is more than what Joshua is making for his fights in the UK due to the higher cost of the fights in the U.S. Wilder vs. Fury went for $64.99 on PPV in the States. If Joshua’s fights are selling for less than one-third of what Wilder’s are going for, then that tells you that Wilder’s PPV totals from the Fury fight brings him right up there with Joshua for the revenue that his fight with Fury brought in.

“I’m the one leading the pack. I’m more than willing to fight Deontay Wilder on April 13 in my backyard at Wembley Stadium in front of 100,000,” Joshua said. “I’m very keen to make the fight. But no fantasy contracts. Just reality. Bringing Wilder to the table, and bargaining and negotiating what we’re worth and making this fight happen. It’s a fight we have to have. We’re both in the same generation. We’re both champions of the world,” Joshua said.

It’s really up to Joshua whether he wants the Wilder fight or not. Joshua isn’t naive. He knows what the percentage split that Wilder is asking for. If Joshua is going to allow Hearn to offer Wilder a 70-30 split rather than the 50-50 split that he’s asking for, then he’s being disingenuous about wanting the fight. With Joshua that far off from the percentage that Wilder is willing to agree to, it gives a clear sign that he doesn’t want the fight. Joshua needs to tell the boxing media that he’s only willing to take the Wilder fight if he takes one-third of the pie, so that they know why the fight isn’t getting made. That would be the right thing for Joshua and Hearn to do. They should be transparent with the negotiations so the boxing public knows what the hold up is in making the fight. Obviously if you have one fighter asking for a 50-50 split, and another fighter offering him just 30 percent of the purse, the fight isn’t going to get made.

“I don’t like coming to the stage in my career where I’m just talking about what I’m worth in negotiations, and what we’re bringing to the table,” Joshua said. “It’s a fight that has to happen. I’m holding four of the major world title belts, and Deontay Wilder holds one. So in that sense, I feel he should come to my backyard and fight me.”

If Joshua wasn’t so preoccupied with what his worth is in comparison to Wilder, he could easily make the fight with him. Joshua getting 50% of the pie for a Wilder fight is a heck of a lot better than hogging the whole pie for a needless rematch against Dillian Whyte or making a title defense that few boxing fans want to see against Kubrat Pulev. Joshua might not like giving Wilder a 50-50 purse split, but at least he’ll get a chance to win the World Boxing Council heavyweight title that he’s been after for the last couple of years. Even at 50%, Joshua would likely make more money than he’d get fighting the likes of Whyte, Pulev, Jarrell Miller and Josph Parker.

Joshua needs to see the big picture so that he can give Hearn his marching orders in making the Wilder fight happen. If this fight gets kicked further down the road, the chances of Joshua winning will likely drop off badly. The reason for that is Wilder has the type of physique that suggests that he’ll still be built for speed and power into his late 40s and early 50s. Joshua is one of those slow bodybuilder types, who will get slower with every passing year, and more hittable. Since Joshua’s chin isn’t going to get better, he’s going to be at the mercy of Wilder as he ages. That’s why it’s better for Joshua to make the fight now while still has hand speed, and mobility. Once he loses what little speed he has, he’ll be a slug in the ring, making him an easy target for Wilder’s right hand bombs that he likes to throw. The right hand shot that Wilder bounced off Fury’s head in the 12th round likely would knock Joshua clean out in this writer’s estimation.

It would help if Joshua were willing to fight Wilder in the United States instead of having his promoter Hearn make a unilateral move of booking Wembley Stadium on April 13, and expecting Wilder to readily agree to that date and venue for the flat fee offer that was given to him last September. Wilder’s management have already offered Joshua a $50 million flat fee for the fight, which is what he asked for originally. Joshua choosing to reject the $50 million offer from Wilder gives the impression that he either doesn’t want the fight with Wilder or he wants to have the split so heavily tilted in his favor that there will be very little left for Deontay. You can argue that most boxing fans believe that Joshua simply doesn’t fancy the fight with Wilde, and that’s OK. Joshua just needs to let the boxing world know that he doesn’t want the fight right now, and that perhaps in 2020 or 2021, he’ll be ready to take it.

“I know I’m the one, and I know I’m going to be here long after those guys are gone,” Joshua said. “I want the WBC belt strapped around my waist. I feel if you come to the champion’s backyard, you have to knock him out. I feel Tyson Fury couldn’t have gone out there and knocked out Deontay Wilder. There wouldn’t have been a situation where you leave it to the judges. That’s how I approach it in my business. I don’t leave it to the judges,” Joshua said.

Joshua, 28, is making a lot of assumptions in thinking that he’s going to be around longer than Wilder and Fury. Wilder is only 32, and he’s a young 32 without injury issues. Joshua is just 4 years younger than Wilder, and he’s already having nagging injuries that occasionally put him on the shelf. The fighters that carry around a lot of muscle sometimes have problems with injuries. That’s just the way it is.

Fury, 30, is close to the same age as Joshua, so it’s up to him whether he wants to still be fighting in 10 years from now. If Fury starts eating and celebrating after every fight like he was doing in the past, then there’s a good chance that he might not be around as long as Joshua. But with Fury’s 6’9″ frame and boxing skills, he has a good chance of being around the game as long if not longer than Joshua. It’s up to Fury though. He’s not likely to physically break down in the next 10 years. The only thing that could limit Fury’s career is him simply losing his interest in boxing, and wanting to enjoy himself doing other things, be it partying, traveling or spending time with his family. Joshua won’t be around longer than Fury and Wilder if those two fighters stay motivated, and want to succeed for the next decade.

Joshua, 28, will be ringside tonight working with DAZN for Mexican superstar Saul Canelo Alvarez’s fight against WBA ‘regular’ super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding at Madison Square Garden in New York. Fellow Matchroom Sport stable fighter Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller will also be attending the Canelo-Fielding fight. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Hearn will look to put Joshua and Miller together for some kind of face off to help increase the popularity of the two heavyweights, and to help generate interest among American boxing fans for a fight between them in 2019, be it on April 13 or later in the year. There’s a VERY, VERY good chance that people will see a theatrical performance between Joshua and Miller with the two of them jawing at each other, and needing to be held back. It’s too predictable. There’s no word whether Deontay will be on hand for tonight’s Canelo vs. Fielding fight. But if Wilder is there, it’s likely that Joshua will be put in front of him to see what kind of sparks will fly.

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