Eddie Hearn reacts to Wilder fighting Ortiz in rematch
By Scott Gilfoid: Anthony Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn was furious after learning of the announcement by Deontay Wilder on Tuesday evening that he’ll be defending his WBC heavyweight world title next against Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz in a rematch. Hearn had been counting on Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) agreeing to face IBF/WBA/WBO champion Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) for the undisputed heavyweight championship later this year. Now those plans have been dashed with Wilder’s news of his rematch with the once beaten Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs).
The boxing public has a mixed reaction to the Wilder-Ortiz 2 rematch announcement. A lot of the fans like the fight, seeing it as the second best match that can be made for Wilder besides a fight against Joshua. In contrast, Tyson Fury put on a boring performance against Wilder last December with his evasive style of fight. There’s not a lot of interest from U.S fans in seeing Wilder face Fury again. Ortiz made it interesting in his fight with Wilder by hurting him with a left hand in the seventh round last year in March, and coming close to stopping him.
“I told you. Nobody listens to me ever,” said Hearn to IFL TV about the news of Wilder announcing his rematch with Ortiz on Tuesday night. “So, Joshua goes on ESPN yesterday, and says, ‘Make the fight, and I’ll sit down with you [Wilder] afterwards and we’ll do a deal.’ He [Wilder] goes, ‘S–t! How do we do we look okay out of this? Oh, I signed a deal to fight Ortiz, everybody, this morning.’ Come on, it’s embarrassing, that’s what it is. I told everyone,” Hearn said.
Hearn says Joshua will focus on Ruiz Jr. fight now
With Wilder out of the picture, Joshua will renew his focus on his fight this Saturday night on June 1 against Andy Ruiz Jr. (32-1, 21 KOs) for their match on DAZN at Madison Square Garden in New York. Instead of concentrating on the 29-year-old Ruiz Jr., Joshua has spent a great deal of time talking about wanting to fight Wilder later this year. Hearn says Joshua is going to focus on the Ruiz Jr. fight now, because he’ll need to bring his “A-game” to win that fight. Joshua and Hearn have both been dismissive about Ruiz Jr. for some reason. It’s as if they looked at his chubby physique, and determined that he has no real chance of winning. That’s a mistake.
“Ruiz, that’s the focus,” Hearn said about Joshua. “We can’t do anything about people that don’t want to fight. So, we have to take care of our own career, and what we know we are doing. What we’re doing is a fight at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night with Andy Ruiz. Joshua better be ready, because that little f—-r is coming to fight. You saw him yesterday. He’s going to be a handful, that guy, so stop talking about Wilder. It’s a waste of time. He doesn’t want the fight. They don’t want the fight. He’s been talked into something else. He’s not his own boss. He doesn’t make his own decisions. Let him do what he’s been talked into. When he becomes available after he fights Ortiz, and after he faces [Adam] Kownacki, then I guess we’ll try again,” Hearn said.
Wilder vs. Ortiz 2 is better fight than Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr.
Wilder is fighting a better opponent than Joshua is with his rematch with Ortiz. Hearn is failing to point out the obvious. Wilder is once again fighting a more talented opponent than who Joshua is facing, and that’s kind of sad. Joshua should be facing the better guys at this point in his career. Hearn picked out Ruiz Jr. from the bottom of the International Boxing Federation’s rankings at #15. Surely, Hearn and Joshua can do better than that. At least with Ortiz, he’s ranked #3 with the WBC, and is considered one of the best fighters in the heavyweight division. Hearn might call it an “embarrassment” that Wilder is facing Ortiz, but the fact of the matter is, he’s facing the #3 heavyweight in the division behind Wilder and Joshua. Fury isn’t in the same league as Ortiz in this writer’s opinion. A lot of fans feel the same way.
“It wasn’t done then, but he knew he was likely to get it,” said Hearn about Luis Ortiz in talking about his attempts to negotiate a fight between him and Joshua. Ortiz was already in discussion for a rematch with Wilder at the time. “But is he [Ortiz] getting $7 million? I hope so. Is it pay-per-view? If so, it’ll do around 100,000 buys. Listen; it’s embarrassing [that Wilder is fighting Ortiz in a rematch], but forget about it. We’ve just got to crack on with serious people,” Hearn said.
We don’t know what Ortiz will be getting for the rematch with Wilder. If it is less than $7 million, then Ortiz could feel that it’s worth it to take the match with him. In hindsight, Hearn should have stuck it out with the negotiations with Ortiz to try and get him to sign to fight Joshua on June 1 instead of giving up quickly and signing Ruiz. You have to question how much Hearn wanted to do the Joshua vs. Ortiz fight. If Hearn wanted to put that fight together as badly as he does the Joshua vs. Wilder fight, he surely would have continued to negotiate until he got the deal done.
“It wasn’t even an announcement,” said Hearn about Wilder revealing the news of his rematch with Ortiz. “It was an embarrassment. It was like, ‘Oh s–t, Joshua is going to stick it on me again. Let’s just announce that I’m going to fight Ortiz.’ When did you sign, yesterday afternoon after Joshua’s ESPN [interview]? Oh, how convenience. Where’s the official [announcement]? It was, ‘just to let everybody know, this is what I’m doing next. There will be announcement soon, everybody. But just so no one else puts anymore pressure on me this week, I’m not fighting Joshua, because I’ve already got another fight,'” Hearn said.
Let this be a lesson to Hearn and Joshua. They should’t use Wilder’s name as a tool to try and promote mismatches that the boxing public has little interest in like the Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr. fight. It’s painfully obvious that Hearn and Joshua were name dropping Wilder’s name for the last two weeks to try and get fans interested in the June 1 fight between AJ and Ruiz Jr. The only thing Wilder did was spoil that strategy by announcing his fight with Ortiz. What Wilder did was leave Joshua and Hearn on their own, having to try and drum up interest in the Ruiz Jr. fight on it’s own merit instead of bringing up Deontay’s name every two seconds to try and entice fight fans to want to see the Joshua-Ruiz Jr. mismatch. It was a smart move by Wilder and his team by making the Ortiz announcement, because now Joshua and Hearn can’t keep name dropping.
Wilder already scheduled to fight Kownacki after Ortiz says Hearn
“I’m busy; don’t waste my time,” said Hearn. “It’s embarrassing! I don’t know what else you can do? He’s fighting Kownacki next, I told you. He did a three-fight deal with Showtime to fight Breazeale, Ortiz and Kownacki. You know he’s done a deal with Showtime. He can’t fight Joshua. He’s already got those other fights done and confirmed. He has the power with those guys to say, ‘No, I’m going to do a fight that’s going to make me an incredible amount of money, and I’m going to do a fight that the public wants. Instead, he comes out with, ‘I’m going to right the wrongs of the Ortiz fight.’ He knocked him out in the 10th round. He’s done that,” said Hearn.
It’s possible that Wilder could be fighting Kownacki after the Ortiz rematch, but that’s a good fight. Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs) is an unbeaten talent, and one of the best fighters in the heavyweight division. Wilder can’t go wrong in fighting Kownacki. It’s a good match-up. Hearn should be supportive of that fight instead of sounding so bitter.
“He’s getting old, Ortiz,” said Hearn. “Ortiz is getting seriously old. He hasn’t looked good since that fight [with Wilder in 2018], but it’s a decent fight. It’s not a terrific fight. Why take that fight when you’ve already beat him, and you’ve got Joshua ready to go? This is the undisputed fight, and one of the biggest fights in boxing history,” Hearn said.
Hearn must not have seen Ortiz’s fights against Razvan Cojanu and Travis Kauffman. He looked good in both of those fights. Ortiz didn’t fight like an old man. He showed a lot of talent, and gave many different looks in those fights. He’s one of those well-schooled fighters from Cuba that can do it all.
“A little bit,” said Hearn when asked if he’ll turn his attention to trying to make a fight between Joshua and Tyson Fury. “we have to take care of our mandatory’s as well; the WBO and IBF mandatory’s. The WBO hasn’t ruled yet on the mandatory situation, but we have the WBO mandatory. It could be [Oleksandr Usyk]. We have the IBF mandatory with [Kubrat] Pulev. We may even have a Dillian Whyte fight to jump into in November. The only thing I’m thinking about on Saturday night is Andy Ruiz, because I told you, this kid is coming to fight. If Joshua is not on his A-game, he won’t beat Ruiz, and then the whole thing is a waste of time. Then a rematch will happen with Ruiz,” said Hearn.