In talks described as “moving in the right direction, but very slowly,” the effort to stage the massive heavyweight title unification bout between unbeatens Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder is concentrated on staging the bout in the U.S.
While Eddie Hearn, the promoter for England’s Joshua, told The Times last week that he believes the rightful site for the bout would be the home of the three-belt champion in England, the active negotiation is connected to the guaranteed $50 million offer to Joshua made by Wilder’s managers, Al Haymon and Shelly Finkel.
That offer, according to one source connected to the negotiations, “presumes the fight is in the U.S. on pay-per-view during U.S. prime time … having the fight in the U.K. would mean no $50 million guarantee.”
Joshua improved to 21-0 with 20 knockouts on March 31 when he added the World Boxing Organization heavyweight belt that belonged to Joseph Parker by defeating Parker by unanimous decision in Cardiff, Wales.
But the U.S. audience for that bout was diminished by its afternoon showing (2 p.m. in the Pacific time zone) and its conflict with an NCAA Final Four game for viewers.
The U.S. venue is part of the active Joshua-Wilder conversation, with Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena considered “the leading contenders,” according to the official, unauthorized to speak publicly on the matter due to the sensitivity of the multimillion-dollar talks.
Joshua possesses some leverage since his U.S. television rights with Showtime, which has broadcast his past six bouts, expired following the Parker bout.
Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) fights on Showtime, and Hearn said in March the bout will “probably” be next for Joshua.
However, HBO is also positioned to make a run at Joshua, and Hearn announced a $1 billion streaming deal last week that will begin in September and “could” include some Joshua bouts.
Joshua-Wilder talks are centered on a bout occuring between October and December, and one of the ongoing topics of uncertainty is how well the fight will do financially in the U.S. since there hasn’t been this significant of a heavyweight-title bout here since Lennox Lewis’ 2002 knockout of Mike Tyson.
The charismatic and power-punching Olympic champion Joshua is a powerful draw in the U.K. He drew 90,000 to Wembley Stadium last year for what turned out to be the fight of the year, his 11th-round technical knockout of former long-reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko.
The bout was broadcast in the U.S. live on Showtime, and delayed by HBO.
With strong promotion, Joshua-Wilder would likely challenge live-gate sales of last year’s Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin middleweight-title bout that generated $27 million at T-Mobile.
The unknown is pay-per-view sales.
For instance, 600,000 buys at $60 would generate $36 million, but there would still be satellite providers and several others to pay out of the total that would include the live gate and sponsorship, and neither Wilder nor Joshua has headlined a U.S. pay-per-view.
Alvarez-Golovkin had 1.3 million buys.