The boxing world was all astir on Monday with the news that Deontay Wilder had accepted the terms set forth by Matchroom Sport honcho Eddie Hearn for a match between him and Anthony Joshua. “The ball is now in their court,” wrote Wilder on social media.
Shelly Finkel, who is Wilder’s co-promoter along with Al Haymon, confirmed the news in a conversation with ESPN’s Dan Rafael. Finkel acknowledged that he had reached out to Hearn and his father Barry Hearn, the company’s founder, “telling them that we officially accept the offer to fight under the terms they gave us and to send us the contract.” Eddie Hearn replied that he would have the contract in their hands by the end of the week.
The contract, it is generally understood, will contain these features:
The fight will take place in the UK (Hearn is partial to Wembley Stadium) in September (unlikely), October, or November.
Wilder will receive a flat fee rather than a percentage of the revenue.
There will be a rematch clause.
The big question is whether the terms that Hearn gave Team Wilder included all the little elements that can become bones of contention, fracturing the deal. Moreover, the U.S. pay-per-view partner will undoubtedly want a say in some of the particulars. Anthony Joshua’s contract with Showtime has expired, so there will likely be a bidding war for the right to show the fight.
As is widely known, Hearn has been dickering with Andrey Ryabinsky, the promoter of Alexander Povetkin, for a bout between Joshua and Povetkin in the UK in September. A former WBA world heavyweight titlist, Povetkin (34-1) has won eight straight since suffering his lone defeat the hands of Wladimir Klitschko. He appeared on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s last fight where he scored a vicious fifth round knockout of David Price. A bout with Povetkin would fulfill Joshua’s WBA mandatory.
If Team Joshua chooses Povetkin, putting the Wilder fight off until February of 2019 at the earliest, Wilder is expected to risk his belt against Dominic Breazeale who is #2 in the WBA ratings behind Dillian Whyte who has a date with Joseph Parker at the O2 Arena in London on July 28.
Although Povetkin is getting long in the tooth — he turns 39 in September – it’s considered a risky fight for Joshua. Both are former Olympic gold medalists. By contrast, Wilder would be a massive favorite over Breazeale who is 19-1 but was out of his element against Anthony Joshua who stopped him in the seventh round.
When Joshua vs. Wilder finally comes to fruition, it will be only the third heavyweight unification fight between title-holders in which three or more relevant belts are at stake. The first of this description occurred in 1987 when 30-0 Mike Tyson fought 34-0 Tony Tucker. The second came this past March when WBA/IBF champion Joshua fought the aforementioned Parker, the WBO title-holder.
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