By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Deontay Wilder’s manager claims his highly anticipated heavyweight title fight against Anthony Joshua won’t be as complicated to make as those that follow boxing have been led to believe.
Shelly Finkel, who has worked with Wilder throughout his career, told Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Mannix during a podcast made available Monday that Wilder won’t demand a 50-50 purse split to get a much-discussed shot at Joshua. Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, has repeatedly stated that Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs), a superstar that fills soccer stadiums in the United Kingdom, deserves more money for their heavyweight title unification fight than Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs), the WBC champion from Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
“The fact of the matter is I’m not negotiating on the 50-50 [premise],” Finkel told Mannix. “If the deal is right, and it’s not exactly 50-50, we’ll take it. That is not an issue. It is a monetary thing. I don’t pay for rent by percentages. I pay for rent by what the fighter gets. And that’s what we’re looking for.”
Finkel also acknowledged Joshua’s star power.
The 28-year-old knockout artist from Watford, England, reportedly will earn an $18 million guarantee for his title unification fight against New Zealand’s Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KOs), the WBO champion, on March 31. The Joshua-Parker bout also is expected to draw a capacity crowd in excess of 78,000 to Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
Wilder’s reported guarantee for his 10th-round knockout of Luis Ortiz was $2.1 million. A crowd of 14,069 attended the card headlined by Wilder’s title defense against Ortiz (28-1, 24 KOs, 2 NC) on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“I believe that Joshua is a credit to the sport,” Finkel said. “He is the perfect storm. He won the gold medal at the Olympics in London [in 2012], being a London fighter, and built his championship there. And you’ve gotta give him all the credit in the world. All we want is who we believe is the first or second-best heavyweight in the world to get in the ring with Joshua to prove who’s the best. And we’re willing to do [a contract with] a rematch [clause]. So if he believes he’s the best, there should be no issue.”
A showdown between Joshua, who owns the IBF, IBO and WBA titles, and Wilder isn’t expected to happen next, assuming the heavily favored Joshua beats Parker later this month. If it does take place, Joshua and Wilder are expected to earn eight-figure purses.
According to Finkel, there have been no discussions between representatives for Wilder and Joshua since November 29. That was the day Finkel met with Barry Hearn, Eddie Hearn’s father and the founder of Matchroom Boxing, which promotes Joshua.
“What I said was that on November 29th, 2017, I met with Barry Hearn, which is Eddie’s father,” Finkel said, referring to a story he told toward the end of Wilder’s post-fight press conference Saturday night. “And he said that he believed he could bring more people to Vegas, at a higher ticket price, that we would make more money than if we fought in the UK. I said to him, ‘We’re open to fight either place. If you’re ready, we could make a deal.’ He also asked us if we would fight on February 3rd against Dillian Whyte. I said, ‘Sure, if we could make Joshua.’
“I got a letter later that day and it was from Eddie. He says, ‘Hi Shelly. Glad you had a good chin wag with the old man.’ I laugh a little because this is language I never could’ve made up. ‘I will get the respective P&L, profits-losses, to you this week for discussion. All the best, Eddie.’ That was on November 29th. I have not heard from him since. Then he goes out [and says] that we were asking for this and we were asking for that. We haven’t asked for anything. When they make these ridiculous statements, I’ll counter just to save face. We’re ready to fight him. We’re ready to do it whenever.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.