An offer of $100 million or more would make any mere mortal leap to say yes.
But upon reflection with his managers, Deontay Wilder focused on one main sticking point when presented with the opportunity to lock in two fights with his fellow unbeaten heavyweight world champion, Anthony Joshua of England.
“We asked how much is Joshua getting, and we were never told the answer,” manager Shelly Finkel said. “What they offered sounded good, but it might not sound so good if the other guy is getting double or triple it, and we never knew what that number was.”
Alabama’s Wilder (40-0-1, 39 knockouts) also looked back to last year, when Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, offered him $15 million for the fight. Last week, the offer was to take a May 18 mandatory World Boxing Council title defense against Dominic Breazeale for $20 million, and earn $40 million apiece for the fight-rematch with Joshua.
“When they pulled [the $15-million offer] away, they said, ‘Oh, what’s going to happen? You have no one.’ We had someone. We had [Tyson] Fury,” Finkel noted of the classic draw Wilder and Fury fought to Dec. 1 at Staples Center.
“And today, Deontay is way bigger than he was then, and we were offered by the same people a multiple of what we were offered before. Can you imagine in six months what they’re going to want?”
So Wilder, partnered with Finkel and his co-manager Al Haymon, the head of Premier Boxing Champions, opted to reject the nine-figure, multi-fight package from the streaming service DAZN, and he returns to fight May 18 on Showtime against Breazeale at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
“I have an amazing team who has the best interest in me. You can sleep better knowing these guys are working for you,” Wilder told the Los Angeles Times.
“I’m free to move around and dictate the things I want. The goal is still for there to be one champion, one face, one name. I will be that man. I just need the others to be able to compete with me and bring this thing to an end once and for all. I want it to happen. I want the heavyweight division to be great, to have people talk about the fights they want to see.”
The failed DAZN pursuit comes after Fury walked away in the 11th hour of negotiations for a Wilder rematch and joined Top Rank/ESPN, which also offered Wilder a multi-fight package with a rematch against Fury.
Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza, whose network has been quiet since late December when PBC relaunched its new deal with Fox, said Wilder’s loyalty to Showtime was the “tiebreaker” between offers that were “in the same ballpark.”
“We need to get back to working on making these fights,” Espinoza said. “Deontay’s been getting into these discussions and they talk about four- or five-fight deals. When we made Mayweather-McGregor, UFC didn’t say, ‘Floyd has to sign with us for three fights,’ … and when we made the Fury fight, no one said, ‘Tyson Fury has to sign with PBC and Showtime for four fights to get it,’ but these are the conditions that are being placed on Wilder to get the Joshua fight or Fury rematch.
“Let’s get back to basics. Everyone took their shot at getting a multi-fight deal with Deontay. It did not work. So let’s work on what we should have been working on since day one, and that’s making the big fights.”
Espinoza said he’s open to a joint broadcast venture as was done in the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight.
“We’re not demanding it’s got to be a certain way. If the only way for these fights to happen is some sort of collaboration, then we’re not going to create obstacles to the fights everybody wants,” Espinoza said.