Hearn says Joshua-Whyte is “close”
By Scott Gilfoid: Eddie Hearn says the Anthony Joshua vs. Dillian Whyte fight is close to being done, but he might need to move the fight from April to May or June. Hearn is keeping unbeaten heavyweight Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller as the backup in case he can’t make the Joshua vs. Whyte 2 might. Hearn mentions that he’s offering 60/40 to Whyte for a fight against Joshua. Hearn says Whyte get only a 80-20 deal as the World Boxing Organization mandatory if it went that route.
In the same interview, Hearn still expresses doubt about whether he can get the Joshua-Whyte 2 deal done. Further, Hearn isn’t certain whether this is a good time for him to have his fighter IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) to come to the United States to fight the unbeaten American Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs) in his backyard at Madison Square Garden in New York. Hearn is torn and not sure which direction to go in for Joshua’s next fight. Hearn says he doesn’t want to deplete the UK market by only having Joshua fight in the UK in front of huge crowds of 80,000, but he also says it’s a gamble by giving up that and coming to the U.S to fight. Hearn doesn’t say it, but he’s clearly concerned about Joshua not making as much money fighting in the U.S in terms of the gate and PPV back home. Joshua won’t be PPV in the U.S, as he would be fighting on DAZN against a heavyweight that isn’t popular in Jarrell Miller.
“Whyte-Joshua is close, and there’s a chance that if we don’t go April 13 with AJ-Whyte, we can still do that in May or June in England, but the Jarrell Miller fight is an option for June,” Hearn said to Thaboxingvoice. “It’s just that is it the right time for Joshua to come to America to make his U.S debut? I do think there’s big value in him doing it. You can’t win in this game. People say, ‘Joshua is a homeboy. He only boxes in his backyard [UK].’ It’s like, ‘I’ll come to New York, and I’ll fight this loud mouth New Yorker at MSG [Madison Square Garden].’ ‘Ah, you’re running from others.’ I just think at some point,he’s going to make his U.S debut, but in the landscape of the moment, this would be an interesting time,” Hearn said.
If Hearn moves Joshua’s fight from April 13 to May or June, he’ll likely lose a good bit of change that he put down to book Wembley Stadium for the April date. That would have to hurt, and it’s unclear whether Hearn would want to take a gamble of trying to book Wembley Stadium for May or June, if it’s even available during those months.
Hearn has been conflicted about letting Joshua fight in the U.S for the last two years. On one hand, Hearn understands that in order for Joshua to become a star in the U.S, he’ll need to fight there on a frequent basis against good heavyweights. On the other hand, Hearn doesn’t want to take the gamble of losing the money that Joshua can make fighting in front of large crowds of 70,000 to 80,000 boxing fans that he can pull in every time he fights in the UK. Joshua won’t be able to draw those kinds of crowds in the U.S, as the casual boxing fans don’t know who he is, and the hardcore fans aren’t nearly as enamored with him as the UK fans. The U. hardcore boxing fans see Joshua as a guy with a weak chin, poor stamina, and who has been matched carefully by Hearn against beatable fighters. Hearn has never taken any risks with Joshua by putting him in with Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury or Luis ‘King Kong’ Wilder. Hearn makes a big deal about Joshua having fought and beat former undisputed heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. What Hearn doesn’t say is he waited four years until Wladimir was 41-years-old, coming off of a loss to Fury, and a two-year layoff before he finally made that fight. Had Hearn made the Wladimir vs. Joshua fight in 2013, when the Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine was still very much in his prime, it might have been a different story. As things were, Joshua still almost lost to the ring rusty, 41-year-old Wladimir. The U.S boxing fans see how flawed Joshua is, which is why they’re not huge fans of his. They saw how Joshua’ gold medal victory in the 2012 Olympics was controversial due to him appearing to lose three of the fights against Roberto Cammarelle, Erislandy Savon and Ivan Dychko. The U.S fan didn’t forget those controversial wins by Joshua, so they don’t see him as for real.
“It just depends, really. It comes down to who actually wants it, because some talk about money over legacy,” Hearn said in complaining about Joshua’s opponents asking for a lot of money. “It doesn’t mean our offers are poor. We’ve offering 60-40 for a guy that is very A-side in my opinion in Anthony Joshua, and Dillian Whyte, if he was mandatory, it would be 20 percent with the WBO. So I think all the offers are good in my opinion. It doesn’t mean they have to go, ‘Okay, Eddie, I’ll take whatever you offer me.’ That’s called negotiations. But you have to put value on beating the #1 guy. You have to put value on winning the four belts. Some I believe do see the value, and some I believe don’t. I do think Jarrell is one of those guys that does see value. Jarrell is not going, ‘Give me as much money as you can and I’ll take it.’ Jarrell is going, ‘I believe I can beat Anthony Joshua. I want millions, but I believe I’m getting a shot here at four world titles. If you beat Anthony Joshua, you are the #1 heavyweight in the world. So you have to put a value on that as well,” Hearn said.
Hearn is focusing on the wrong thing when he starts to babble about how Joshua’s opponents should be thinking about winning his four titles, and thinking about their legacy rather than money. Whyte, Miller, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury don’t want end up on the short end of the stick when it comes to the negotiations just because they’re getting a shot at all Joshua’s paper titles. Titles no longer mean a while lot in boxing, especially in the heavyweight division, which is arguably the weakest division in the sport right now. The sanctioning bodies have watered down the divisions with their many titles, and it doesn’t mean nearly as much for a fighter to be a world champion like it used to.
“If Joshua comes to the U.S, there’s some unknowns; the gate, and the UK pay-per-view if we do it it as a U.S fight. There is a bit of a gamble,” Hearn said. “In the UK, there’s no gamble. He [Joshua] sells over 80,000 tickets [for stadium fights], and he draws one million buys every time he fights. We don’t just want to exhaust the [UK] market. We’re not interested in milking [the UK market]. If we can’t get the fight the British fans want, then we’ll come to America and fight in his backyard. That’s really the market. There’s a lot of money in America right now for boxing, so we’ll see what happens,” Hearn said.