by Shaun Brown
By the end of this week promoter Eddie Hearn wants to know if WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder wants to fight WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO champion Anthony Joshua.
The will they-won't they saga has been taking up the column inches in boxing media week after week but Hearn, Joshua and the rest of the team are ready to move on to a fight with WBA mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin if a deal can't be struck with Wilder. And they are adamant that a first fight between Joshua and Wilder should take place in Britain.
"We all decided as a team that the first fight should be in the U.K. It's not a case of being arrogant but at the moment there's a very clear A-side in the fight, and the fight should take place where that A-side wants that fight to take place. If Wilder wins he becomes the A-side, " Hearn told Boxing Scene.
"They [Wilder's team] made a very strong offer, there's no denying that, but it's not an amount of money that's going to change Anthony's life.
"Joshua said 'Why aren't we doing this fight at Wembley in front of 90,000?' He's asked me a lot of questions, particularly about how many Brits could we get into the arena in Vegas. I said 'After casino guests, and Americans? I dunno six, seven, eight, nine thousand'. And he was a bit flat with it all, and he sort of felt after everything we've done... they've [the fans] supported him against (Wladimir) Klitschko of course, but also against (Carlos) Takam and (Joseph) Parker that we then just toodle off and say 'See you in Vegas'"
Joshua, who has also been linked to a fight with Jarrell Miller in New York for his U.S. debut, would no doubt carry a hefty travelling support to America's fight capital but AJ's team look like not shifting from their stance that Wilder has to come to their back yard. The ball now looks firmly in Wilder's court.
Hearn is looking at Joshua fighting in September, with Wilder or Povetkin seemingly the favourites to face him.
"We've got a situation with Povetkin where probably next week they'll (WBA) call for purse bids then it takes another two weeks, something like that for the purse bids. I think realistically two weeks is the absolute deadline," said Hearn.
Behind closed doors conversations continue to carry on between Hearn and Wilder's team with dialogue having taken place on Monday (May 28).
"We're speaking very frequently, and to be fair to Deontay he understands. It's not like he's moaning about it. He always felt that he'd have to come to the U.K and like I said they made a strong offer. Some of the points, or some of clauses in that offer weren't acceptable, some were. We could have talked about them but it was just a decision from the team that the first one should be in the U.K. We want to go in September and that's either going to be, most likely at this stage, Wilder or Povetkin. Both tough fights. By the end of this week I want to be in a position to know if Wilder wants the fight."
Shaun Brown covers British boxing for Boxing Scene. Contact him on Twitter @sbrown2pt0