Premium Issue Opinion

‘The world needs Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder’

Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder
Action Images/Reuters/Andrew Couldridge
Why I want Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder next, how I plan to make it happen and why I fear it won’t. Eddie Hearn in his own words

WE have to make a big statement on Saturday night. Not just in Anthony Joshua’s performance, but him and me putting it on Deontay Wilder afterwards and saying, ‘You have to give the fans what they want.’ There can be no excuse not to make this fight in November or December. We get around a table and we get this done. No one wants to see Wilder fight Luis Ortiz or Adam Kownacki. Everyone wants to see the biggest fight in world boxing.

Joshua-Wilder is one of the biggest fights of all time. George Foreman said this would be the biggest fight there’s ever been. Okay, you can’t say that until you look back in history because only time can tell. But, quite honestly, this is the only fight Joshua wants.

For now, his head is on Ruiz and it’s got to be. This is going to be a tricky fight because he’s a late replacement, it’s Joshua’s first fight in the USA and it’s a bit all over the place – that’s the danger. But he’s always asking me about Wilder, asking when and if we’ll get him, asking why it’s not happening.

Anthony Joshua
Action Images/Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Wilder has used Joshua’s name to build his own. But Wilder didn’t even sell 6,000 tickets on May 18 against Dominic Breazeale [official attendance was 13,181 but reports suggest many were comps] and tickets weren’t even expensive. And by the way, I believe Wilder is – or should be – a superstar. He’s exciting to watch, he’s charismatic and he’s a great self-promoter, but he sold less than 6,000 tickets. The ratings on Showtime barely registered yet he wants 50-50 against Joshua? It’s so hard to accept that.

Part of me says just do it, just give him what he wants. But then AJ has worked so hard to build himself, to be the draw that he is and win three of the four belts. For me, it has to be the next fight but it’s not as simple as everyone thinks.

If it’s not Wilder, then Joshua has mandatory commitments with the sanctioning bodies. Whether it’s Kubrat Pulev, Oleksandr Usyk or Dillian Whyte. So, am I optimistic that Wilder will be next? As much as I want it to happen, I’d have to say I’m not very optimistic at all. Wilder is already suggesting he’s going to fight Ortiz next which is crazy.

Deontay Wilder
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The reason I wanted Joshua to do this next fight in America was to break up the cycle in the UK. Wembley, Millennium Stadium, Wembley, Millennium Stadium. So, if Joshua boxes in the UK in November or December, he hasn’t boxed there for over a year which makes it a bit more appealing. But there are other markets we want to box in; the United Arab Emirates, the Far East. If we’re fighting someone like Pulev – who may not appeal to people in the UK – do we fight over there? I don’t want to isolate him from the UK public but I also don’t want to give the UK public fights they might not necessarily want. It’s difficult.

Joshua has to keep winning and I’ve told him that. Then we go again, and we build. But if he looks as sensational against Ruiz as I hope he does, then what’s said in the ring after the fight should make it really hard for Wilder to turn it down. And I do believe Wilder wants the fight, so we’ve got to goad him. The fans too. ‘I dare you. I dare you to take the fight’. To me, it’s clear that the people around Wilder don’t want this fight, yet. But I say, why not gamble?

People say it’s terrible for PBC if Wilder loses. Well it’s terrible for Matchroom if AJ loses. That’s sport. But I don’t think Joshua will lose. And I want those nights. Forget the fighters for a moment, I want those nights where I’m going, ‘F**king hell, I’m s**tting myself.’ Imagine Joshua and Wilder in the ring? Just before the opening bell? Imagine how that would feel. The whole world would stop to watch. The sport needs that feeling.

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