WBC heavyweight champion reacts to British titleholder's failure to agree to a big unification bout and discusses what contenders he could face next.
A bout between Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua would yield one of boxing’s most lucrative matchups and the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000.
Following a roller coaster three months of failed negotiations, it won’t happen in the near future. So, Wilder has shifted his focus. He will now concentrate on improving to 51-0 with 50 knockouts, a feat that would surpass Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s all-time record for career victories without a loss.
It’s not that much of a stretch for Wilder, who boasts a record of 40-0 with 39 KOs. But he is frustrated that the negotiations for a match with Joshua were fruitless.
“I’m not surprised but it’s ridiculous that this situation’s ended like it did - them wasting three and a half months of peoples' time,” said Wilder.
“They never wanted the fight in the first place, and it showed. I wish they would have come out and just said ‘We don’t want to fight at this point in time, maybe we can try back another time.’ That would have been more respectable. Instead, they played this back and forth game like they’ll knock me out in three rounds, he’ll ram his jab down my throat, and that I haven’t done enough, and, look at my resume, like Joshua’ resume is so much better. It doesn’t add up.”
Wilder, 32, is now open to facing any highly-ranked heavyweight contenders to reach his goal and is facing a mandatory defense against Dominic Breazeale.
Wilder’s major sticking point with the contract offered, after accepting all of Joshua’s other terms, was a one-way rematch clause favoring Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) in the event Wilder won the fight. Joshua also demanded that he be allowed to select the bout’s referee and judges without input from Wilder’s side.
“As champions, it’s either both have a rematch or we don’t. It’s another example of saying, ‘I don’t wanna fight.’ We already took a low-money offered deal, and are willing to come to your country. But if he beats me, we move on? Hell nah. They should have just come out and said Joshua’s not ready. They’re not going to let Joshua fight me until [Joshua’s trainer] Rob McCracken says he’s ready,” said Wilder.
“Joshua will never be ready for somebody like me. That’s why Eddie Hearn is trying to sign me to sign me to a three-fight deal because he needs me. But I don’t need an Eddie Hearn to tell me when I can fight or when I can’t, or, if he’s not pleased with me to sit me on the shelf. The only fighters who do are those who need help. But they’ve seen a promoter who contradicts like a compulsive liar, failing to get his own top fighter the biggest purse of his life, so how can he help them? They took this route and messed up their own reputation.”
Wilder was initially offered $12.5 million to fight in England by Hearn, who subsequently failed to respond to Wilder’s $50 million counter to compete in American – something Joshua requested to make the fight.
Citing the failure of Wilder’s co-manager, Shelly Finkel, to return the final contract within 48 hours and before the WBA ordered Joshua to face Alexander Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) Hearn moved on. He has directed his attention toward Povetkin now.
Dear boxing fans pic.twitter.com/VGhU4DHxQ6— Deontay Wilder (@BronzeBomber) June 28, 2018
Finkel said he asked for a week concerning the draft on June 22. He denied that Hearn requested him to return the contract within two days of receipt.
“If Eddie told us he was having a problem with WBA, you gotta get it back sooner, we would have gotten it back sooner,” said Finkel, adding that the contract listed no date or venue.
Wilder was encouraged about a potential clash with Joshua after he stopped Luis Ortiz on a 10th round TKO on March 3. Joshua scored a decision over Joseph Park on March 31, and indicated after the fight that he was open to facing Wilder in a match for the undisputed heavyweight championship. The timing for both men meshed perfectly for one of the most anticipated matches in boxing.
“Being a Black man, I’m disappointed in Joshua for not standing up for what’s right and refusing to take life-changing money. He’s going to have bad dreams about that,” said Wilder.
“But at the same time, I feel like I’m free - an inmate who just got out of prison. Everyone in the world has seen that I’ve tried everything in the world to make this fight happen. I’m content with the situation and I feel like I’m free. I’ve already moved on. Whoever’s next is going to take a beating.”
Wilder believes he and Joshua need to meet face-to-face to workout a potential future matchup, similar to what happened when Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao met one-on-one in a Miami hotel room to pave the way for their mega-match in 2015.
“Me and Anthony Joshua have had many behind-closed-doors conversations. I’ve shown him every e-mail that’s been sent, who has been lying, who is not responding to e-mails and who is holding this fight up. He even, at one point, asked me to show him the proof of the $50 million offer,” said Wilder,” who, with Finkel, offered to send the terms’ sheet to Joshua’s attorney only to never hear back.
“As terrified as he is of fighting me, Joshua would have fought for that $50 million. But he can’t do nothing because he’s signed with Eddie Hearn. I think Joshua’s team has their best interest in mind before Joshua’s best interest and that no one around Joshua has confidence in him to beat me. Joshua’s lost fans while I’m gaining more fans every day. Anyone still saying this is my fault is an Eddie Hearn zombie.”
To see more on Deontay Wilder, check out his fighter page.
- Deontay Wilder