Deontay Wilder will be making his FOX pay-per-view debut Saturday against Luis Ortiz, but it almost never came to be.
In March, DAZN offered Wilder $100 million for a three-fight package, including two fights with Anthony Joshua.
The WBC heavyweight champion eventually declined the nascent OTT streaming platform’s payday, and went on to fight Dominic Breazeale on longtime broadcast partner Showtime, destroying Breazeale in one round.
“I didn’t take the DAZN deal because the people that were representing DAZN were coming with an offer that wasn’t up front and truthful with me,” Wilder told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “They came back and apologized to us. They knew they were in the wrong … The money is not going to be the motivator of everything. I bet on myself. I make way more money than what they’re offering anyway.
“They were not honest in the information that was going in the offers, and who’s getting what. I felt that they hesitated to give us a response. They didn’t want to reveal the information, and that was very important information that we needed to make a decision.”
When asked to elaborate, Wilder instead chose not to offer too much in response.
“It is what it is, and I’ll keep it like that,” he said.
In an interview last month with Lance Pugmire of The Athletic, DAZN executive chairman John Skipper commented on the Wilder negotiations, saying: “In retrospect, I was too brash going in there without creating the relationships I needed to create with the people who advised Deontay Wilder. I have now worked to do that. It has to do with going back to the education I needed before getting into boxing … When we left that (Wilder) meeting, I knew we messed up and that we weren’t going to be successful.
“We were impatient, and after having some early success, we wanted to move quickly. Now I understand that I’ve got to work relationships, work within a framework and understand other peoples’ self-interests and needs as well … If I had to do it again, I’d have gone in and said, ‘I’m playing the long game.’ I’m playing the long game with Canelo and GGG, too.”
In hindsight, Wilder said he’s glad he passed up on the DAZN deal, because Joshua ended losing to PBC stablemate Andy Ruiz in June, and thus creating havoc and uncertainty in the heavyweight picture.
“Look how god works. If I signed that deal, I would have still been sitting around, waiting for Anthony Joshua, and the fight would not be as big as it was before he lost. We would have lost value,” said Wilder.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports and hosts his own radio show in Los Angeles. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at email@example.com.