Hearn says Dillian Whyte is frontrunner for Joshua’s next fight
By Jim Dower: As expected, British promoter Eddie Hearn revealed on Friday that Dillian Whyte is the front-runner for IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua for his April 13 fight at Wembley Stadium, because he’s had no interest from Deontay Wilder to take the fight. Hearn admits that his job as a promoter for Whyte, 30, is to get him a world title shot.
Joshua is the one that makes the most sense for Hearn for Whyte. The UK boxing fans want to see Joshua fight Whyte, even though it’s a retread fight. Whyte was already knocked out by Joshua in the 7th round in 2015.
WBC champion Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) is looking to fight a rematch against Tyson Fury, but even if he was available for Joshua to fight in April, negotiating the fight could be useless.
The percentage splits that Hearn revealed that he was going to potentially offer Wilder based on the PPV buys from his fight with Fury were so far from the 50-50 that Deontay wanted that it was but impossible for the Joshua-Wilder fight to get made for April.
“As it stands today, I would probably say that judging by the response from Wilder’s team, Dillian Whyte is probably the front-runner,” Hearn said to IFL TV in talking about Anthony Joshua’s likely next opponent for April 13 at Wembley Stadium in London, England.
There’s no real surprise here. Whyte (25-1, 18 KOs) was the clear favorite for Joshua’s fight for April 13 months ago. Hearn promotes Whyte, and he has seemed eager to put him back in with Joshua from the very first. Most boxing fans figured Hearn would make a token effort at putting the Joshua vs. Wilder fight together before quickly abandoning the negotiations so that he could look at his intended target Dillian Whyte for the fight.
Hearn had hinted of a wildcard option for Joshua to fight in April that was someone completely different from the names that he had floated, but instead it’s Whyte.
“We got to do a deal, and it’s not going to be easy,”Hearn said to IFL TV about a fight between Joshua and Dillian Whyte. “Dillian wants certain things, and Joshua wants certain things. They don’t like each other, but there’s a lot of money to be made in that fight. It’s a really good fight.”
Putting together a deal for the Joshua vs. Whyte 2 fight is going to be extremely difficult. Whyte isn’t a mandatory for Joshua yet, which means that Joshua isn’t forced to defend his titles against him if he doesn’t want to. Whyte would be a voluntary challenger, and that’s not a good position to be in when it comes to trying to get a title shot against Joshua. Whyte might not get the percentage split that he’s been enjoying lately with his fights against Dereck Chisora, Robert Helenius and Lucas ‘Big Daddy’ Browne.
“Our priorities have not changed to make the Deontay Wilder fight,” Hearn said. “I can’t exactly say it looks like they want the fight. We’re ready to fight Wilder. But maybe they can’t do a deal with Fury in the rematch. If you look at the polls. I saw a poll the other day. It said, ‘who do you see as the best heavyweight in the world?’ It was 44 percent Joshua, 40 percent Tyson Fury, and 6 percent Deontay Wilder. Although his [Wilder] profile has risen out of the Tyson Fury fight, if you’re Tyson Fury now, what deal do you accept to fight Deontay Wilder? He [Fury] feels like he won the first fight. He should have won the first fight. Then you think, should we just make Joshua against Fury? But also Joshua against Whyte is a really, really good fight,” Hearn said.
Hearn appears to want the Joshua vs. Whyte II fight just as much as he wants the Amir Khan vs. Kell Brook fight. That’s a match that Hearn has been talking about endlessly in the last year, and now that he an sense that the fight is close to being made, he’s talking a great deal about the fight, and letting the boxing fans know how much he wants to put it together.
Fury was knocked down twice by Wilder. That’s not how you beat the champion. It sounds like Hearn is hoping like mad that the Wilder vs. Fury rematch doesn’t take place, because that would help his fighter Joshua. AJ won’t be left out in the cold like he was for the Wilder vs. Fury fight that took place earlier this month on December 1.
Hearn sounds like he’s really hoping that Fury prices himself out of the equation for a rematch with Wilder. It’s possible that Fury could ask for too mucg, but not likely. Fury knows that he’s not the WBC champion. Wilder holds the belt, and he arguably was robbed of a knockout win the last time he fought Fury when the referee failed to stop the fight with Tyson was dropped.
“I have a job to deliver Dillian Whyte a heavyweight world title shot,” Hearn said. “He deserves a world title shot, we all agree on that. He’s a Brit, and he’s with us [Matchroom Boxing]. Give him a title shot. If he [Whyte] doesn’t fight [Joshua] in April, he will be mandatory anyway in September or October.”
It would be nice if Hearn matched Joshua against former world title challenger Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz for his next fight. Joshua has already knocked out Whyte in 2015. It’ hard for the boxing public to get excited about seeing Joshua and Whyte do it again when the first fight was such a mismatch.
At least Hearn is being open about how his main focus is putting the Joshua vs. Whyte 2 fight. Although Hearn is saying that Wilder vs. Joshua is his main priority, it would seem that’s not the fight that Hearn wants to put together. He wants Joshua-Whyte II.
“I want to give Dillian a shot at a world title,”. “Our focus is 100 percent the same – Deotay Wilder [for Joshua on April 13]. There’s Deontay Wilder, then Tyson Fury, and then Dillian Whyte,” Hearn said in the pecking order of options for Joshua to fight on April 13 at Wembley Stadium in London, England. “That’s what AJ wants. He wants to be the undisputed champion of the world, and he can only do that by fighting Deontay Wilder. We need to make a decision by the end of January. We need to go on sale by the first week of February. So we’ve got four weeks. I would say today judging from the response from Deontay Wilder’s team, Dillian Whyte is the front-runner for next. Joshua is 100 percent focused for that date, but Brook-Khan would also slide neatly into there,” Hearn said.