By Keith Idec
Eddie Hearn couldn’t believe it when he learned Deontay Wilder won’t attend the Anthony Joshua-Joseph Parker fight Saturday night.
A spokesman for Wilder confirmed to BoxingScene.com on Tuesday that Wilder won’t make the transatlantic trip to Cardiff, Wales. Wilder was supposed to serve as a guest commentator for Sky Sports’ coverage of the heavyweight title unification bout between England’s Joshua and New Zealand’s Parker at Principality Stadium.
The unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion ultimately decided not to attend the bout because Joshua and Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, publicly stated that they didn’t want Wilder and Joshua to engage in a post-fight confrontation that only would’ve generated more interest in the highly-anticipated Joshua-Wilder showdown. Joshua and Hearn specifically said they don’t want Wilder to confront Joshua in the ring after the fight, assuming the heavily favored British superstar tops Parker.
Hearn appeared angry about Wilder’s decision during an interview with iFL TV following Tuesday’s final press conference for the Joshua-Parker fight.
“How bad do you think he wants the fight if he don’t come?,” Hearn said. “Don’t give me all that, ‘All I wanna do is unify the division.’ Come. You’re getting paid. You’ve got business-class airfares, you’ve got a lovely hotel. It’s not like it’s a chore. This is your job. But he don’t wanna get mixed up with Dillian [Whyte] and Joshua. It’s all bullsh*t. He’s happy fighting those geezers. Watch who he fights next.”
Hearn wants Wilder to fight Whyte next, not Joshua. The outspoken promoter also told iFL TV that he made a “significant increase” in his offer for Wilder to come to England for a fight with Whyte, but Hearn wouldn’t specify the amount of the improved seven-figure offer he said he made Monday night.
The Jamaican-born, London-based Whyte (23-1, 17 KOs), who knocked out Australia’s Lucas Browne (25-1, 22 KOs) on Saturday night in London, is the WBC’s No. 1 heavyweight contender. The WBC has not, however, named Whyte as Wilder’s mandatory challenger, thus the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native isn’t obligated to fight Whyte next.
Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) has made it beyond clear that he’s only interested in facing Joshua next, not Whyte. Hearn still cannot comprehend why Wilder has canceled his trip to Cardiff.
“I cannot believe he wouldn’t come because he’s got a brain,” Hearn said. “I don’t know [why he’s not coming]. First he was saying about getting into the ring. The [British] Board [of Control] won’t let anyone into the ring after the fight, during interviews, right? He’s gonna be where you are there, right, working for Sky. Joshua’s gonna be here [signifying a close distance], doing his thing. It’s the same thing. And you know what? Joshua would probably invite him in the ring if he want. But it doesn’t matter, because [Wilder] doesn’t wanna know.
“I don’t know whether, all of a sudden, he realized Dillian’s coming as well, and Dillian would be breathing down his neck. Or whether he’s bumskull? But I just – who is advising these people? Can you imagine how much media Deontay Wilder would get in Cardiff this week? A lot. More media than he’s ever had in his last 10 fights put together. These people need advice. That’s what they need.”
Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs), the IBF/IBO/WBA champion, is an approximate 8-1 favorite to defeat Parker (24-0, 18 KOs), who owns the WBO title. The odds aside, Hearn credited Parker and his handlers for negotiating a deal to challenge Joshua (Sky Sports Box Office; Showtime).
“There’s people who talk and there’s people who actually go about their business,” Hearn said. “Joseph Parker is one that talked, but was realistic and actually wanted the fight. There are other people in the world who are talking about the fight. But the reality is, they don’t really wanna know unless they get a deal that’s actually not gonna happen. So forget the bullsh*t about all these other people talking about, ‘I want Joshua! I want him! I’ll fight Joshua!’ Don’t talk bullocks. You either do or you don’t. We’re dealing with the people that do – Wladimir Klitschko, Dillian Whyte, Joseph Parker. These are the people that actually stepped up and will take the fight. So I think it just gets [tiresome] with people talking, talking, talking.
“And then you wanna talk about this geezer, Deontay Wilder, who wants the fight so bad, and now he’s talking about not coming to Cardiff. … Are you a joke? You’ve got the entire world media in Cardiff. You’ve got a situation where you’ve got Dillian Whyte at ringside, you’ve got Anthony Joshua – something’s bound to happen after the fight to build the fight to astronomical levels. And you wanna sit on your ass for a so-called fight you want so bad. Don’t give me that bullsh*t. All your doing is using Anthony Joshua’s name. He’s getting paid a lot of money from Sky to come work for them this week, and he’s bumskull. Simple. Dillian Whyte’s there. Anthony Joshua’s there. ‘Oh, I wanna get in the ring.’ Bullsh*t! You’re bumskulls. Don’t talk about these fights if you’ve got no intention of taking them. We’ve got two fighters that would take his belt. Anthony Joshua, we know. And Dillian Whyte as well. And we’ve improved our offer now to Deontay Wilder [to fight Whyte]. And if he don’t take this fight, he’s a joke. I’m sorry.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.