By Keith Idec
Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder is the heavyweight fight fans want to see more than any other.
One of Alexander Povetkin’s promoters has advised them not to sleep on the heavyweight fight they’re more likely to see first. Vadim Kornilov, who works for Andrey Ryabinskiy’s World of Boxing (Povetkin’s promoter), even suggested Joshua-Povetkin will be “much more competitive and exciting” than a bout between undefeated champions who’ve combined to knock out 97 percent of their opponents.
“If the Wilder-Joshua fight is going to happen, it’s going to happen,” Kornilov told Sky Sports for a story posted to the network’s website Wednesday. “Right now [it’s] Povetkin-Joshua and that’s what it’s all about. The fans should be happy. They should not be disappointed because, to be honest with you, I think the fans are going to get a much more competitive and exciting fight in this one. Wilder-Joshua has been a lot of hype. This fight is the real deal.”
Kornilov said his company and Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, are “very close” to finalizing a deal for England’s Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) to make a mandatory defense of his WBA title against Russia’s Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs). Gilberto Mendoza, the WBA’s president, gave them a 24-hour deadline Tuesday to complete a deal for the Joshua-Povetkin fight.
Hearn had been negotiating with Wilder’s handlers for a heavyweight showdown that would’ve made more money and attracted much more attention than Joshua-Povetkin. Hearn told Sky Sports on Tuesday, though, that he hadn’t heard back from Wilder’s team in the nearly nine days since he sent them a contract.
That contract reportedly didn’t include a date or site for their fight. Hearn has said Joshua-Wilder would’ve taken place either in October or November.
Wilder also has said that he is willing to fight Joshua in the United Kingdom. Their fight for Joshua’s IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles and Wilder’s WBC crown surely would sell out London’s 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium.
A Joshua-Povetkin fight also would draw an enormous crowd either in England or Wales because Joshua is such a huge star there. Joshua-Povetkin likely will be scheduled for September 22.
“We are very close and we plan to finalize the deal very soon,” Kornilov said. “The WBA has actually been very patient, but now they are pushing us to finalize this mandatory deal. I think Povetkin and Joshua are two gold medalists, a very competitive, top-of-the-line fight. I think this is the best fight in the heavyweight division today.”
Povetkin, 38, fought on the Joshua-Joseph Parker undercard because he believed he would fight Joshua next. The former WBA champion knocked out England’s David Price (22-5, 18 KOs) in the fifth round of that March 31 fight at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
“Povetkin wanted the fight really bad and I believe that in this fight, it’s a 50-50 fight,” Kornilov said. “It could go either way. The motivation and the desire for this fight shows Povetkin’s confidence.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.