Instead, the biggest heavyweight title bout since Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson is officially dead. On Wednesday, Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn announced that Joshua is set to defend his WBA, IBF and WBO world titles versus WBA mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin, either on September 22 or 29. Hearn says the fight will likely be shown on DAZN, a sport streaming service which will launch in the United States in September.
“Joshua’s team didn’t want to fight me from the start,” WBC champion Wilder told Boxing News on Thursday. “Joshua himself stated that it may take next year or the year after that. He’s not confident in himself and his team isn’t confident in him either. Eddie said he would avoid me until Joshua’s trainer thinks he’s ready. They don’t think he’s ready and the boy is never going to be ready.”
“We were always the ones reaching out to them and keeping the communication,” he continued. “We’re moving on now. My goal is to set a record: 51-0. I’m looking to clean out the heavyweight division.”
The Joshua-Povetkin announcement closes the door on negotiations that lasted nearly four months. It began on April 10, when Hearn offered Wilder a $12.5 million flat fee to fight Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs), 28, in the United Kingdom.
Wilder, (40-0, 39 KOs), 32, balked at the offer. On April 12, Joshua told Sky Sports that Wilder’s camp should, “Give me $50 million dollars up front and I swear I’ll take that fight tomorrow.”
But that didn’t happen.
On April 25, Wilder’s team countered with a US bout that included a $50 million guarantee for Joshua against 50% of the event revenue. Hearn asked for proof of sources of funds. As did Joshua, says Wilder.
“Joshua and I had conversations on the side,” he revealed. “He asked me to have my team email him certain things about the money. I said, ‘Sure, no problem.’ When we gave him the offer, he was super excited. He even took everyone on his team out to eat.
“We thought Joshua was more in control than he was. But we found out that he wasn’t. It’s sad to see him allow these people to do what they’re doing. He can’t do nothing that he wants to do. As you can see, they stopped him from doing any interviews about me because he would say one thing and they would say another. Joshua really wanted the fight for the $50 million. Next thing we know, they’re talking about fighting in his country—for less money.”
Wilder is referring to a $15 million flat fee UK fight Hearn proffered near the end of May. Despite his disappointment, Wilder accepted and announced it on his Instagram on June 11. On Monday, June 18, Hearn sent over a contract.
“In the contract he sent, there was no date, no venue,” said Wilder. “If I beat Joshua, they get a rematch, but if they beat me, it’s up to him. Just a bunch of bogus things.”
An industry source with knowledge of negotiations verified Wilder’s claims. “A lot of aspects in the deal were basically non-starters. There was no venue and no date and the rest leaned heavily in their favour. Joshua was definitely interested in Wilder’s offer. Who wouldn’t be? It was a $50 million base plus upside, so it was a huge win-win for him. I’m not sure why it didn’t get off the ground, but he was very interested.”
“I didn’t say I don’t believe the money’s not there,” Hearn said in a June 4 interview with FightHype.com. “But we got an email from Deontay Wilder offering us $50 million. I like Deontay Wilder but he ain’t got $50 million… Anthony feels like after everything he’s built [in the UK], and the history that we’ve made here, that if he makes $10 or $15 million less here, so be it.”
Wilder finds that thinking hard to accept.
“When your career is over with,” he said, “Are those same people going to help with your bills? A promoter, a manager, those are jobs you can do your whole life. But boxers can’t do this forever. They’re not looking out for his best interests. He wanted that $50 million. But he ain’t in control. And he’s scared as well too. He can’t speak up.’”
Wilder won’t be having Hearn over for tea and crumpets anytime soon either.
“Eddie Hearn is a 37-year-old, childish boy,” he says. “He wants to be famous and have this popularity as a promoter. This is a game to him. But we’re not about playing games. He contradicted himself many times. I sacrificed everything and took every offer that was thrown at me. But every time we reached a goal, they moved the goalpost.”
Hearn has now proposed a two-fight, $20 million deal to Wilder. It includes a $5 million payday for a September/October title defense in America on DAZN, followed by the $15 million UK fight versus Joshua in April.
“F*** Hearn,” said Wilder, regarding the DAZN offer. “We’re done with that. Only thing we needed was the belt to unify. The $50 million is off the table. That flat fee I was going to take … all that is off the table. If they ever come back to us, it’s going to be 50-50 straight down the line. I’m just glad the blindfolds are off the people’s eyes. Even casual fans can see what happened. For those that can’t see, the ones I call Eddie’s zombies, they can be a fool behind him.”
Wilder is expected to return to the ring this fall, likely on Showtime. Mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale has been mentioned as a possible opponent. The two had an altercation at a hotel in February 2017.
“Right now, we’re not looking at Breazeale,” Wilder said. “He’s a mandatory so eventually he’s going to get what’s coming to him. There is definitely history there and I can’t wait to fight him. There’s a possibility he could be next, or a possibility he may not be. I advise him to just stay ready and get in the best shape of his life.”
Former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury is another potential future opponent. On Wednesday, the Englishman posted a video on his Instagram account declaring, “Send me the contract and I’ll show you how long it takes to sign it. Wallop. Ten seconds. Done.”
“Anthony Joshua said the same thing,” Wilder cracked. “He swore he’d sign the contract tomorrow. So, we done heard these things before. But I have big faith in Tyson Fury as a man of his word. At this point in his career, he’s looking to regain some type of title. In my eyes, he’s still a champion because he hasn’t been beaten. He only beat himself. That would be a great fight between me and him but he should be careful what he asks for.
“I’m not going anywhere in this heavyweight division. I’m going to be around for a very long time, until I decide to retire. I told Joshua you’re going to regret not taking this money. I think he knows that. Just wait and see what I have in store. They’re going to come crawling back to us. Mark my words.”