By Keith Idec
VERONA, New York – With all the forceful personalities involved, including his own, Eddie Hearn can’t envision anyone other than John Skipper stepping in to make the ever-elusive Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder heavyweight title fight a reality.
Hearn is confident Wilder will accept Skipper’s multi-fight offer now that DAZN’s executive group chairman and the WBC heavyweight champion have met to talk specifics of the contract Skipper is prepared to offer. According to Hearn, who promotes Joshua, it’s unlikely that he and Wilder’s team, specifically advisor Al Haymon and co-manager Shelly Finkel, could come together to finalize a deal for the heavyweight title unification fight virtually every boxing fan wants to see.
“It’s fantastic,” Hearn said regarding DAZN’s pursuit of Wilder. “I think we’ve got a brilliant chance of making the Joshua fight. The only way that deal was ever gonna get made was doing it this way – the John Skipper way. Meaning that there’s no relationship between me-Wilder, me-Shelly. I’ve reached out a dozen times to make offers, tried. [Skipper has] gotta be the one, in my opinion, that brokers the deal.
“Because he’s got two [additional] people to broker the deal with, not just Wilder. So, he’s already proved, through the Canelo signing, and with me, with the Golovkin signing, that he’s very good at doing that. And I think that he will get Wilder. I think that he will put the deal together for Wilder to fight Joshua. I can see it happening.”
Hearn wasn’t specific about details of DAZN’s offer to Wilder, who has fought only on Showtime, Showtime Pay-Per-View and FOX during his four-year heavyweight championship reign.
England’s Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) already is scheduled to defend his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles against Brooklyn’s Jarrell Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs) on June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York. DAZN will stream the Joshua-Miller match.
Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs), of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is expected to make a mandatory defense of his championship against Dominic Breazeale (20-1, 18 KOs) in his next fight. DAZN’s pursuit of Wilder has complicated exactly when and where the Wilder-Breazeale bout will take place.
“It could be anything,” Hearn explained. “It could be [Wilder versus] Breazeale on DAZN, [Wilder versus] Joshua on DAZN. It could be [Wilder versus] Breazeale on Showtime, [Wilder versus] Joshua on DAZN. So, what I’m saying is, that first fight, until they sit down and hash everything out, I don’t know whether this is gonna be, ‘Come straight on DAZN. Do the Joshua fight on DAZN.’ There’s the loads of things that they might wanna do, etcetera.”
The contentious nature of Hearn’s Joshua-Wilder dealings with Haymon and Finkel hadn’t left Hearn optimistic about making that fight until relatively recently. When asked if he expected to be in this position of potentially adding Wilder to DAZN’s growing roster, Hearn replied, “No, but I knew this was the way to do it. It was just a case of getting it right. I think Deontay’s comments have led to this chain of events. Do you know what I mean? By him coming out and saying, ‘I’m not with Showtime. I’m up for speaking to everybody. I’ve had offers from ESPN.’
“John knows what he’s doing, so he had to make sure that the approach was there. He spoke to me before and said, ‘What do you think about me [making the deal with Wilder]?’ I said, ‘Go for it,’ because I think this is the way. Because me and Shelly aren’t gonna get a deal done. And me and Wilder aren’t gonna get a deal done. So, he’s gotta be the one to go, ‘What do you need? All right. OK, what do you need? Right. You’re done. And right now I’ve gotta do you, and then it’s done.’ I mean, it could be that quick. I have full confidence in him to make this fight. And the plan for DAZN, without question, is obviously Canelo-Jacobs May 4th, Joshua June 1, probably Wilder as well, Golovkin against the winner of Canelo-Jacobs, Deontay Wilder against Joshua. That’s one hell of a schedule, all part of your subscription, none of those fights being extra pay-per-view. And that’s their vision, their model. If they get that, if they land that, it’s game over. It puts them in a fantastic position to add new subscribers.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.