THE signs are not promising that we will get to see Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder this year.
A few days ago it was a very different story. A contract was sent over, it looked like the fight the world was waiting for could be made. But now the negotiations the world is tiring of have lurched in a new direction. The WBA, the sanctioning body for one of Joshua’s three world titles, had given him time to negotiate with Wilder for the unification clash. But today the WBA declared that now Joshua’s team have 24 hours to confirm a date for the fight with Alexander Povetkin. He would have to fight Povetkin, or face being stripped of the WBA heavyweight title.
A major part of the appeal of the Wilder fight isn’t only that the two are big punchers and big personalities but that it would unify all four world titles in the heavyweight division. Shedding a world title therefore would undermine that.
Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, told Sky Sports News, “We can’t do a lot more than we’re doing. [Anthony Joshua] wants that fight more than anything. But there’s not a lot more we can do. We sent the contract nearly nine days ago now. We’re not even necessarily expecting a signed contract back, we just want your comments. If I wanted a fight, if my fighter wanted a fight and we received a contract, I would be back with the comments within 24 hours. Nothing makes sense here at all. They emailed me on Sunday and said we’ll be back with our comments on Friday. Why do you need another five or six days? They know we’re under pressure from the WBA and it all feels like a big game.
“This Wilder fight is one that has to get done and has to get signed. It’s a fight we desperately want but at the same time we’re not going to give up a belt.”
So if Povetkin is ready to go, which he probably is, then that fight could well be next.