By Keith Idec
Eddie Hearn has heard and read from plenty of people over the past two days that neither he nor Anthony Joshua wanted Joshua to fight Deontay Wilder next.
Hearn contends that it’s Joshua, not him, that ultimately determines his opponents.
Joshua’s promoter also assured skeptics during a wide-ranging interview with IFL TV that the unbeaten British superstar indeed wanted to fight Wilder before the WBA ordered Hearn on Tuesday to finalize a deal for Joshua’s mandatory heavyweight title defense against Alexander Povetkin within 24 hours.
Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) likely will face Russia’s Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) on September 22. According to Hearn, delaying the heavyweight showdown fight fans want most is more the fault of Deontay Wilder’s handlers than him and/or Joshua.
“Do not question the integrity or the desire of Anthony Joshua,” Hearn told IFL TV for a video posted Wednesday to its YouTube page. “Trust me on that. And I’ll tell you something now – if this geezer, Deontay Wilder, signs this contract, he will get absolutely dispatched by Anthony Joshua. Believe me on that. So we will see. We will see.”
The polarizing promoter stressed, too, that he isn’t keeping Joshua away from the dangerous Wilder, who owns the WBC title. The prevailing feeling within the boxing industry and among fans is that since Joshua can earn eight figures for safer fights that he’ll take at least or two more of those types of bouts before agreeing to fight the hard-hitting Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs).
Hearn countered by noting that Joshua has faced a higher level of opposition than Wilder and that Povetkin won’t be an easy opponent for Joshua.
“All I ask the fans to do is know one thing – I’m not the boss,” Hearn said. “All right? I saw Tyson Fury’s stuff today [on Instagram]. ‘Oh, Eddie Hearn don’t want him to fight [Wilder]. Mate, it doesn’t matter who I want him to fight. He wants to fight everybody. He decides everybody he fights. So all these other people, like Fury, ‘Oh, send me the contract. I’ll fight you next.’ Come on, mate. Seen your last fight. Seen the next guy you’re fighting. Understand this – after 22 fights, Anthony Joshua would’ve boxed names that include Dillian Whyte, say Dominic Breazeale because at the time it was his 17th fight, Wladimir Klitschko, Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin in his 22 fights.
“Wilder’s had what, 41 fights? And he’s fought one real, live opponent [Luis Ortiz]. And he’s pretty much out of the game because he had high blood pressure and he was 40 or whatever it is. So I think in Wilder’s 23rd fight he boxed Jason Gavern on the undercard of Kell Brook against Shawn Porter, I think.”
Wilder was 31-0 when he stopped Gavern in August 2014. Joshua was 10-0 when he knocked out Gavern in April 2015.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.