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Deontay Wilder accepts offer to fight Anthony Joshua in U.K. but deal not done yet

Could one of the biggest fights and events that can be made in boxing be getting closer to becoming a reality?
11
Jun

We’re one step closer to the super fight between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, but there’s no deal yet.

Wilder accepted an offer on Monday to meet Joshua on Sept. 15 at Wembley Stadium in England in a bout that would crown an undisputed heavyweight champion, his co-manager Shelley Finkel, told THE RING. It’s a two-fight deal, with the rematch set to take place in the U.S. Eddie Hearn, who promotes Joshua, didn’t immediately respond to a text message seeking comment.

“[The offer’s] great enough that we accepted it,” said Finkel, who is no stranger to big-time heavyweight fight negotiations as Mike Tyson’s former manager. “We have a rematch clause … If [Joshua] doesn’t take it, the public will really come down on him.

“They said give us $50 million and we’ll take it the next day. He didn’t take it. They made us an offer, they want us to fight in the U.K., they want a rematch clause, we said OK to all of it. It will be very hard for him to face the public and not take the fight.”

Sept. 15 is also the date of Canelo Alvarez’s return from a six-month suspension for testing positive for the banned substance clenbuterol, and there’s a good chance that fight is the rematch with Gennady Golovkin. However, the fights wouldn’t go head to head since Joshua-Wilder would emanate from the U.K. and be televised in the afternoon (east-coast time) in the U.S. Other dates in September and October are also possibilities, Finkel said.

Wilder’s guaranteed purse is in the neighborhood of $15 million, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the offer. Typically, boxers receive a percentage of the revenue for fights of this magnitude. The guarantee is considered a low-ball offer by industry insiders given the massive amount of revenue the showdown is sure to generate.

However, Wilder (40-0, 39 knockouts) has lobbied for this fight for well over a year. After he rallied to stop Luis Ortiz in a fight of the year candidate in March, Wilder again banged the drums for a meeting with Joshua.

First, Wilder and his team consisting of Finkel, advisor Al Haymon, co-manager/trainer Jay Deas and de factor promoter Lou DiBella sent a guaranteed offer of $50 million to the Joshua side for a bout in the U.S. After Joshua balked, they’ve now agreed to fight in the U.K.

“We decided that we don’t want to lose the fight, that we don’t want to miss the opportunity to beat this guy,” Finkel said. “There was a similar situation many years age when someone was working with Kenny Norton, they gave him a low-ball offer thinking he wouldn’t take it, and he took it, and that was against Muhammad Ali, and it made Norton a star.

“Comparatively, we think we’re worth more, but we want the opportunity. I believe in Deontay, Deontay wants to be the unified champion, he’s not ducking anyone. He hasn’t ducked anyone. He wanted to fight [Alexander] Povetkin in Russia.”

Finkel said the 32-year-old Alabaman also will concede to being billed as the B-side of the promotion. Wilder, THE RING’s No. 2 heavyweight, would put his WBC belt on the line against Joshua, THE RING’s top-rated heavyweight who holds the WBA, IBF and WBO belts.

The 28-year-old Brit, who claimed gold at the 2012 Olympics, went the 12-round distance for the first time when he outpointed Joseph Parker in a unification fight in April. Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) is a global star, and one of England’s highest-earning athletes. He routinely fights before sold-out stadium crowds, and his win over Wladimir Klitschko in 2016 was seen by about 90,000 at Wembley.

The fight with Wilder, if the deal comes to fruition, promises to be even bigger in magnitude. It would pit two devastating punchers in their prime, and each man boasts tremendous size. Joshua is 6-foot-6 and weighed 242 in his last bout. Wilder, known as the Bronze Bomber after he medaled at the 2008 Olympics, stands tall at 6-foot-7 and while he routinely weighs around 230 pounds, he was just a shade above 214 in his last outing.

“I think it’s a fight, I think it’s on, we’re waiting on the contract right now and I expect them to live up to their agreement,” Deas told THE RING. “We offered Joshua $50 million, they turned it down. They offered Deontay considerably less and he still said yes because he’s the one who truly wants to make this fight happen. So hopefully for the fans the world over, it’s on. We’re looking for a contract, I’ll be checking my email by the hour.

“Even though I think the fight is worth a lot more and Deontay think it’s a lot more, our position is we’ll go win the fight and be the man and make the appropriate amount of money on the backend as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Deontay’s driving the bus and he said ‘you know, this fight’s worth a lot more, everybody knows it, but I want to be undisputed champion of the world, and if this is what I gotta do, let’s do this'”

It’s the biggest fight that can be made in boxing, and easily the biggest heavyweight title fight since Lennox Lewis knocked out Tyson in 2002. Now, the world will wait to see if the fight can get signed. Your move, Joshua and Hearn.

Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger