By Keith Idec
It’s obvious to Frank Warren that members of Anthony Joshua’s team don’t want him to fight Deontay Wilder.
There’s no other explanation, according to Warren, for Joshua turning down $80 million in guarantees for a fall showdown with Wilder and a rematch in the event Wilder defeated him. Warren was surprised Joshua turned down that kind of money, but that decision enabled the heavyweight he promotes, Tyson Fury, to get involved in negotiations with Wilder for a November bout.
The heavily favored Fury (26-0, 19 KOs) must defeat Italy’s Francesco Pianeta (35-4-1, 21 KOs) on Saturday night in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to secure his shot at Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title. Warren discussed why he thinks Joshua-Wilder won’t happen next Tuesday during a press conference to promote the Fury-Pianeta fight.
“Fights happen for two reasons and they don’t happen for two reasons,” Warren said. “One, the money’s gotta be right. And two, you either fancy the fight or you don’t. Wilder, Tyson, the money’s OK and they both want the fight. Joshua, somebody didn’t want the fight. Wilder wanted it. They made a huge offer. It’s been well-reported and I’ve seen the thing that they put together for it.”
Warren was privy to details of the well-documented offer Wilder’s team made to Joshua because Shelly Finkel, Wilder’s co-manager, sought Warren’s assistance while putting it together.
“When they were putting the bid together, the offer to Joshua, I helped [Finkel] with some of the matters, what they were looking for, what BT would put in, would BT be interested in buying the fight,” Warren said. “Remember, they were looking to promote the fight. And BT was very interested in broadcasting it. It wasn’t about being on Sky [Sports]. For them, it was about who came up with the most money. So we were talking. But the bottom line about all this is he was offered a $50 million guarantee. And if he lost the fight, the rematch would’ve guaranteed him $30 million. That was the bottom line. It could’ve been more than that.
“So for me, the money’s right. That’s huge money. I can’t see a boxer walking away from a guarantee of $80 million minimum. So the only answer, the real reason the fight didn’t happen is they don’t fancy it. So who doesn’t fancy it? I don’t know whether it’s the promoter doesn’t fancy it. I know the trainer don’t fancy it. He never makes any comment on it. But I know that Robert McCracken doesn’t fancy that fight. So that’s where it’s at. But you know what? That fight’s gone. You can talk about it till the cows come home. In the meantime, Anthony Joshua’s fighting Povetkin, who had a real, real tough fight with David Price. A very tough fight with David Price I think tells you where they’re at with that.”
Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, offered Wilder a flat fee of $15 million to face Joshua in the United Kingdom in October or November. Wilder was willing to accept that offer at one time, but has since decided he wants a 50-50 deal to fight Joshua.
England’s Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) is scheduled to make a mandatory defense of his WBA title against Alexander Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) on September 22 at Wembley Stadium in London. Joshua and Hearn have said he is willing to fight Wilder on April 13 at Wembley Stadium, but Wilder doesn’t think they’re serious (https://www.boxingscene.com/wilder-joshua-fight-me-april-13th-embarrassed--130759).
Meanwhile, Wilder and Fury are expected to officially announce their fight in the ring Saturday night, assuming Fury beats Pianeta.
Showtime will stream the Fury-Pianeta and Carl Frampton-Luke Jackson fights Saturday through its YouTube channel (4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT). Belfast’s Frampton (25-1, 14 KOs) and Australia’s Jackson (16-0, 7 KOs) are set to fight for the WBO’s interim featherweight title in the 12-round main event at Windsor Park, where a capacity crowd of roughly 25,000 is expected.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.