By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Eddie Hearn senses Deontay Wilder is comfortable with his team assuring Anthony Joshua a $50 million payday for their fight because they’ve convinced Wilder that he’ll make plenty of money from the overall revenue generated by the event.
The problem for Wilder, according to Hearn, is Hearn’s estimates of the worth of their huge heavyweight title unification could leave the unbeaten WBC champion with less than the $12.5 million guarantee Hearn offered Wilder earlier this month. Hearn’s obligation, of course, is to make Joshua as much money as possible for that dangerous bout between unbeaten knockout artists.
Wilder’s handlers would argue Hearn shouldn’t be the least bit concerned with Wilder’s guarantee or how he’ll maximize his earnings from facing Joshua.
Nevertheless, among the reasons Joshua’s promoter wants to meet with Al Haymon, Wilder’s adviser, and Shelly Finkel, Wilder’s co-manager, is Hearn wants to learn the contractual terms that have convinced Wilder’s team that Joshua-Wilder is a more valuable event than Hearn envisions.
“My worry is Deontay Wilder,” Hearn said Thursday while promoting a card headlined by middleweights Daniel Jacobs and Maciej Sulecki on Saturday night in Brooklyn. “So what’s the deal they’ve offered Deontay Wilder? This fight, in my opinion, in England generates, conservatively, $40 million to $50 million. In America, perhaps $45-$50 [million] to $60-$65 [million]. I wouldn’t like to put guarantees on it. They might be doing it.
“They might be taking a run at it, and say to Deontay – because it’s [a] 50-50 [split] beyond $100 million, maybe they’ve said to Deontay, ‘Yeah, but if it does $120 [million] or it if does $100 [million], you get $50 [million].’ It won’t do $100 [million]. But what if it does $55 [million]? What does Deontay get, $5 [million]? What if it does $60 [million]? Does he get $10 [million]? What they have to do with Deontay is they have to give him a minimum guarantee and sell him the dream of the upside, which probably don’t exist.”
The upside to which Hearn referred largely would come from potential pay-per-view revenue Joshua-Wilder could generate. Despite intense interest from fans and media in their fight, neither Joshua nor Wilder has headlined a pay-per-view event in the United States.
Regardless of what Wilder’s team thinks the fight is worth, Hearn won’t consider agreeing to a deal until he can meet with Haymon and Finkel to discuss details of their offer for England’s Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) to battle Alabama’s Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs).
“I have to see a contract,” Hearn said. “It’s not even really the money. We don’t want to be involved in a show where you have to try and achieve the money. So what I’m saying is, if they need to get $50 million to show me, they could do it very easily. They can go and raise the finances from a bank. You can do anything you want. But it’s not say a situation of, ‘Where’s the fight? Oh, we’ll let you know.’ And then go out and say to Barclays or to MGM or to Abu Dhabi or to Saudi Arabia, ‘Who wants Anthony Joshua?’ They don’t have the right to do that.
“So we’d prefer it to go, ‘All right, it’s MGM, Las Vegas.’ They don’t even have to give us a date. It could be October. ‘These are the broadcasters. All right, you’ve got your broadcasters that you’re involved with. That’s fine. This is how the media tour will work. These are your obligations.’ That’s how you start conversations. Not, ‘Here’s $50 million. Do you agree or not? You’ve got 24 hours. Go!’ ”
Hearn realizes that Joshua would have to fight outside of the United Kingdom for the first time if he were to accept the $50 million guarantee from Wilder’s handlers. While Hearn would prefer for their fight to take place in the UK, where Joshua is a superstar and has drawn crowds in excess of 78,000 three times, that’s a concession he is willing to make for Joshua to earn more than double what he has made for a single fight thus far.
There are other potential details that concern Hearn, though.
“I think it’s a massive fight, but there’s ways to generate the numbers that you or your fighter or client wouldn’t want you to do,” Hearn said. “I’ll give you an example. Maybe I can get $80 million from Saudi Arabia to take this fight there. Do I want to do the fight over there? Not particularly. Does Anthony? No. Maybe I could get a sponsorship of $15 million from a new virtual currency that might be a bit dodgy. Do I wanna have my fighter associated with that brand? No, I do not, regardless of the money.
“So maybe they wanna charge $100,000 for a seat in the front row. Do I wanna be involved with that? No, I don’t. So it’s about protecting our business, Anthony Joshua’s brand and all the things that we’ve dealt with along the way. And until we know how they intend to raise that finance, we can’t even begin to make decisions.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.