Last Tuesday, the WBA ordered heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua to face mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin or be stripped of his title.
Due to the mandate, plans to make the highly anticipated undisputed heavyweight title fight between Joshua and WBC champion Deontay Wilder had to be put on hold.
On Friday, Wilder was interviewed on Showtime’s digital series, “Below the Belt”, saying the fight is dead and only a 50-50 could make it happen.
The question the boxing world has been wondering is: Why didn’t the fight get made?
“We’ve been talking to these guys six, seven, eight months about this fight,” Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn told said. “We first made them an offer. I don’t like talking about money, but it’s all out there for $12.5 million to fight Anthony Joshua in the UK.
“We always appreciate it that there’s more money for this fight in the U.S. But I feel for what Joshua’s done in the UK, for what the fans have done in terms of supporting him and treating the legacy that this fight can create, this is where we wanted to do it. [It] probably represented about 30 percent of the purse. They didn’t turn it down. They didn’t respond.
“Joshua did an interview, kind of tongue-in cheek, saying this fight is worth $100 million dollars, give me $50 million and I’ll fight you. Probably the worst thing he should have done. Deontay Wilder sent him an email saying we will send you $50 million for the fight.
“So we said that’s unique from a fighter. No disrespect to Deontay Wilder, but he certainly doesn’t have $50 million. We came back and I said, ‘I’m very interested. Can we meet to discuss? This was to Shelly [Finkel]’. Shelly said, ‘You have to accept the fight first.’
“I said, ‘We’re interested. That should be enough for you. I need to know a lot more about this offer.’ I can’t commit someone like Anthony Joshua to an offer like this without knowing the details. He said, ‘We feel a meeting would be non-productive and you need to accept the offer first.’
“I feel that’s bizarre. You can’t talk about an offer for about $50 million. I talked to Anthony about it and we all agreed that this is of interest and we would like to see the contract. I went back to them and said, ‘I would like to see the contract.’
“People said they provided proof of funds. That’s absolute bulls—. They didn’t provide anything. Not even a contract.”
Even though Hearn didn’t have a contract in hand to present to Joshua, the unified heavyweight champion still wanted to make the Wilder bout happen.
“We spoke to the training team and Anthony,” Hearn continued. “It was decided that we would make a play for this fight in the UK. This is where this fight should be. So, I went back to Deontay Wilder and we offered him an improved offer of $15 million, probably like seven times his highest purse. And we didn’t hear from him for nearly a month.
“In that month, quite a lot had happened with Povetkin, who is our mandatory. Povetkin’s mandatory got called over two months ago by the WBA. They send you a letter and say you have 28 days to negotiate and we’re going to purse bids. Since that negotiation period was over, we’ve asked for probably six or seven extensions in that period to try and make the Wilder fight.”
With the showdown looking less likely by the day and a fight with Povetkin more probable, a ray of sunshine set forth and hope was restored.
“So a month after our offer we made, they came back and said, ‘We accept the $15 million. We accept your terms and the offer. Can we get a contract?’ This was like on a Monday. I said no problem and I’ll have a contract for you by Friday.
“A lot has changed. We lost venues. Canelo and Golovkin has been announced so we can’t do Wilder and Joshua in September as the U.S. broadcasters won’t want to spend as much money. On Friday, I quite didn’t finish the contract.
“I emailed [Wilder’s manager] Shelly [Finkel] and said ‘I’ll have it for you Monday.’ He said, ‘No problem, take your time.’
“So I sent it on Monday. I also said to him that we are working on a date for October or November. I think on that Thursday or Friday, he came back and said, ‘Can you confirm that that this is Joshua’s next fight?’ I said, ‘Yes I can.'”
Everything was set in motion. All that was needed was a contract with Wilder’s signature and the biggest fight in boxing would be set. Signs started to surface from Finkel that made Hearn scratch his head and realize the fight wouldn’t occur at this time.
“Then on a Sunday, they sent another email to say we will be back with the contract on Friday, which wasn’t for another six days. That’s nearly two weeks from when we sent it. They knew the WBA was crushing us every day and we were putting them off every day. For me, I knew it was a stalling tactic to delay the inevitable.
“[Finkel] came out in the media and said we got our comments in the contract and two minor points and will get back to them on Friday. So you know the comments already but you want to wait five days to send them. Why is that if you want to make this fight so badly? The WBA probably saw that interview and said enough is enough, Povetkin is next, please send us a signed contract.”
Even though the boxing world won’t see the battle they have been waiting for this year, Hearn says the offer is still on the table. All the contract needs is Wilder’s signature and the fight will be on.
“This contract is still alive,” Hearn emotionally states. “Nothing’s changed. This is the deal that you accepted. That offer still stands. Apparently they said there was two things they weren’t happy with.
“One, was the rematch situation, which they already agreed in writing to within the terms, which they said they would concede to publicly. The other one was the date, saying they just needed to know the date. I’m telling you the date. It’s April 13, Wembley Stadium in the UK.
“So sign the contract.”
Source: Steven Muehlhausen|| SN