FRISCO, Texas – Deontay Wilder already has made it clear he’ll exercise his contractual right for an immediate third WBC heavyweight title fight against Tyson Fury.
Eddie Hearn doesn’t think that necessarily nullifies the possibility of an Anthony Joshua-Fury fight taking place first, while Wilder awaits a contractually guaranteed showdown with the winner. Hearn considers this scenario a viable alternative to Wilder facing Fury next, perhaps as soon as July, based on one thing – cold, hard cash – enough of it that Wilder would at least have to seriously entertain the idea.
According to their contracts, as the loser of their rematch Saturday night in Las Vegas, Wilder is entitled to the wrong end of a 60-40 split for their third fight. Hearn’s pitch would be to pay Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) a huge sum to step aside and guarantee Wilder the Fury-Joshua winner in the victor’s following fight.
That tempting offer would pay Wilder well twice for fighting once and assure the Alabama-based knockout artist a shot at all the heavyweight titles.
“If I’m Deontay Wilder, I don’t really want that [third Fury] fight until September, October,” Hearn explained to BoxingScene.com. “So, there’s two things you can do. Number one is let Joshua and Fury fight in June or July, and then Wilder fights the winner in November, December. All right? Or, fight [Fury] quickly for us in July, or something like that, and let Joshua fight the winner. Or the other one is let Joshua and Fury fight in October, and then you fight the winner in January or February. But then you’ve gotta sit out for nearly a year. But anything is solvable with money. You know what I mean?”
Hearn wouldn’t attach a dollar figure on what Wilder would be offered. Paying the former WBC champion a sizeable sum wouldn’t be an issue, according to Joshua’s promoter, because there would be so much money involved in a Joshua-Fury fight.
Frank Warren, Fury’s co-promoter, predicted following Fury’s seventh-round stoppage of Wilder at MGM Grand Garden Arena that Joshua-Fury would be the biggest sporting event in the United Kingdom since England defeated West Germany at London’s Wembley Stadium to win soccer’s World Cup in July 1966.
That event would do such huge business in England, reviled rivals Hearn and Warren would willingly work together on it.
“I don’t like step-aside deals, because you start taking money from the pot,” Hearn admitted. “You’ve gotta give [Kubrat] Pulev some. You’ve gotta give Wilder some. And also, fighters don’t like giving other fighters money from the pot, because they’re not actually doing anything. You know what I mean? So, it’s like you’re getting all that money and you ain’t even fighting. But the pot is so big that you can do it. There is definitely a deal to be made to give Wilder step-aside money, to make this fight. But it’s timing.
“You know, it’s like, ‘Well, we’re fighting in June and we’re about to sign a contract to fight Kubrat Pulev.’ Luckily, Bob [Arum] represents Kubrat Pulev. So, that would be solvable. But AJ don’t wanna wait until September or October to fight again because he boxed in December. So, my gut feeling is we go with Pulev in June and then hopefully, [Fury and Wilder] fight at the end of July, or something like that, and then we fight [the winner] in November, December.”
Hearn informed BoxingScene.com on Thursday that he has come to an agreement with Arum, whose company co-promotes Fury and Pulev, for Joshua to make a mandatory defense of his IBF belt against Bulgaria’s Pulev on June 20 at Tottenham’s Hotspur Stadium, a new soccer venue in London.
With so much money at stake for a colossal clash between Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) and Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs), Hearn envisions a way to push back that mandated defense versus Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs).
“I think Bob Arum, Tyson Fury, Matchroom [Hearn’s company], Anthony Joshua, ESPN, probably DAZN as well, if they can get some part of it, would all prefer the AJ-Fury fight next,” Hearn said. “So, I had a good chat with Bob [on Tuesday night]. And the thoughts at the moment are, let’s get the Pulev fight signed. And then, over the next couple of weeks see if there’s any maneuverability [to make Joshua-Fury next]. Because my worry is if we don’t get AJ the winner of that [third Fury-Wilder] fight or Fury this year, then the Dillian Whyte [WBC] mandatory [defense] comes in [by February 2021]. Then the chance of undisputed is completely gone. Because of the other mandatories, you’d have to vacate belts.
“So, if we had a preference, we’d do AJ-Fury in June or July of this year. Now, we don’t know if Wilder even wants the [Fury] fight, or if his team wants the fight. But they’re gonna exercise [that contractual right] because if they’re gonna get step-aside [money], they have to exercise anyway to get step-aside. They’re not gonna just come in and go, ‘We’re thinking about it, but what have you got?’ They wanna go, ‘Yeah. Signed.’ And then, ‘But if you wanna come talk …’ ”
Even if Wilder were to accept step-aside money, Hearn, Arum and Warren would have to consider whether to bring a huge heavyweight championship bout between two Brits to a country outside of the United Kingdom.
“I get a lot of stick for that, especially in the UK,” Hearn said. “I mean, I would love [the Joshua-Fury] fight to be in the UK. And both fighters would as well. But they’re all gonna come to me and say, ‘OK, tell us all the money available from all the different venues in the world.’ … But the problem is it isn’t just Saudi [Arabia]. Another country comes in and says, you know, it could be three or four times more than what we could make in England.
“So, if it was double, you might have a decision to make. But if it’s four times or three times [as much], there is no decision. Someone Tweeted at me the other day, ‘They’ve got enough money. Just tell them to do it in England.’ I said, ‘All right, great. I’ll have that meeting with them. ‘Guys, you’ve got enough money, so ignore this offer here and do it in England.’ ”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.