By Keith Idec
Eddie Hearn can’t understand what’s taking Deontay Wilder’s handlers so long to respond in any way to the contract they were sent last week for a huge heavyweight showdown with Anthony Joshua.
Hearn said he still hadn’t heard back from Shelly Finkel, Wilder’s co-manager, and/or Al Haymon, Wilder’s adviser, by Tuesday. WBA president Gilberto Mendoza ordered Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, on Tuesday to finalize a deal with Alexander Povetkin’s team within 24 hours for Joshua’s mandatory WBA title defense against Povetkin.
“We sent the contract nearly nine days ago now,” Hearn told Sky Sports on Tuesday. “We’re not even necessarily expecting a signed contract back. We just want your comments. If my fighter wanted a fight, and we received a contract, I would be back with the comments within 24 hours.
“Nothing makes sense here at all. They emailed me on Sunday [June 17] and said we would be back with our comments on Friday. Why do you need another five or six days? They know we’re under pressure from the WBA and it all feels like a big game, to be honest with you. It’s very, very frustrating and right now it looks like Povetkin is next.”
Hearn, managing director for Matchroom Boxing, understands why the WBA issued its ultimatum Tuesday.
“I think they have just said, ‘Enough is enough,’ ” Hearn said. “We need to know what you’re doing. You’re mandated to fight Alexander Povetkin, and I think Povetkin’s people are getting extremely restless as well. They have been waiting and to be fair to them, they have been patient. But Gilberto Mendoza has clearly decided enough is enough and we’ve got to move.”
Russia’s Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) fought on the Joshua-Joseph Parker undercard March 31 in Cardiff, Wales, because he thought we would get his shot at Joshua next. Povetkin, 38, knocked out England’s David Price (22-5, 18 KOs) in the fifth round of that fight.
Povetkin’s lone loss was a lopsided points defeat to Wladimir Klitschko in a heavyweight title unification fight in October 2013 in Moscow.
“[Joshua] knows that Povetkin is an extremely tough fight,” Hearn said. “Deontay Wilder is another fight that he wants badly. We can’t do a lot more than we’re doing. I think Anthony is frustrated that he feels people feel he might not want this fight. He wants that fight more than anything.”
A bout between England’s Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) and Alabama’s Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) would be one of the biggest in boxing because they’re unbeaten heavyweight champions who’ve knocked out a combined 97 percent of their opponents. Wilder conceded recently to fight Joshua in the United Kingdom, where their fight likely would draw a capacity crowd of roughly 90,000 to London’s Wembley Stadium.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.