Deontay Wilder’s agreement to terms with Anthony Joshua does not mean the fight is on.
Wilder’s Monday announcement — with his co-manager Shelly Finkel in sight behind him — that he’s agreed to fight Joshua in Britain underlines how badly Wilder wants the fight.
An individual familiar with Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn’s verbal offer for a fight at Wembley Stadium in the early fall said Wilder would earn a guaranteed $15 million, far short of the $50 million guarantee Wilder’s team extended to Joshua to bring the fight to the U.S.
“Horrendous deal … . Why are they undervaluing this unbeaten heavyweight champion?” one official close to the situation asked in a Tuesday morning conversation with The Times. The official was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter because of the sensitivity of the multi-million-dollar deal. “This is not a boring kid, not an unpromotable heavyweight champion, not someone who didn’t look great in his last fight [a stirring 10th-round knockout of Cuba’s Luis Ortiz].
“He’s a 6-7, charismatic guy, and all they’re doing right now is chasing Eddie like little lap dogs with their tongues out, devaluing their product.”
But Joshua hasn’t accepted the deal yet. And with a mandatory-title-defense backup option available in the name of Russia’s Alexander Povetkin, England’s popular three-belt champion Joshua (21-0, 20 knockouts) now has a decision to make.
Joshua might appear somewhat boxed in by Finkel’s stroke to accept a fight — and that could possibly result in a deal getting made sooner rather than later — but the savvy Hearn is also launching his $1-billion streaming operation for fights in September, with an L.A. fight card eyed for October.
“Why would he risk starting that at a time when his heavyweight champion gets knocked out?” the official wondered after Hearn has said a Joshua-Wilder fight makes more sense to take place in February. “There’s no way this fight is happening this year.”
The fact that Joshua and Hearn are seeing this desperation from the American could also result in an even weaker deal for unbeaten World Boxing Council champion Wilder.
Hearn has said he’ll review Wilder’s position and work to respond by the end of the week.
Another individual connected to the negotiations went as far as calling Wilder and Finkel’s announcement “a sham.”
The sides were “not talking before the announcement. An agreement requires both sides to agree and the other side hasn’t said anything yet,” said the person, who requested anonymity because of their role in talks.
The Wilder side’s push to agree to terms reveals a panic that the official said could lead Finkel to “probably convince Deontay to cave on everything.”
“Bad for Deontay, good for the fans.”
9:50 a.m.: This article has been updated with additional quotes and background information.
This article was originally published at 8:55 a.m.