Announced this week, unified heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua travels to the spiritual home of boxing – Madison Square Garden.
The upcoming fight, with Joshua to take on Jarell Miller, didn’t exactly go down well with the fans:
— Olly (@OllyBadgercfc) February 13, 2019
— Michael McIlwee (@MichaelMcIlwee) February 13, 2019
Look, this isn’t the fight we wanted – let’s make that clear. We are boxing fans, we want the best to fight the best. We wanted AJ vs. Wilder, at Wembley, in front of 100,000. If that didn’t happen, we wanted Fury.
However, to critique Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua for this fight strikes me a plain ignorance.
For the purpose of this article, I will dive into all the potential opponents for AJ, and come to a conclusion as to my this fight makes most sense for the heavyweight division right now.
Deontay Wilder, WBC Champion (USA: 40-0-1):
The fight we really wanted. Wilder called Joshua out 2017 after a dominant 1st round KO over Bermaine Stiverne. Wilder has also consistent claimed the “One face, one name, one champion” tagline – cementing the image that Wilder wants an undisputed fight.
Should we take Eddie Hearn’s word for it (difficult for some I know), Wilder and his promoter(s)/manager(s), Al Haymon and Shelly Finkel, have simply avoided communication in making such a fight. For Eddie Hearn’s worth, he has been beyond vocal about wanting to make the Wilder fight, and begged Finkel for a meeting – even sending his father Barry Hearn to the US last year to meet with Finkel in order to sort the fight out.
In mid 2018, Wilder actually accepted the terms for a Joshua fight in the UK, this was then rescinded. Hearn has also been extremely vocal about the splits and terms of the deal: 60/40 split for the Wembley fight, with a two-way rematch deal – Wilder remained silent on this offer.
That being said – this is anecdotal evidence, and we cannot say if these terms were offered. We have to take Hearn word for it that they were. However, if these terms were not offered, why has Deontay Wilder not been vocal about not receiving that offer?
Why has Shelly Finkel not approached Hearn in person to discuss the biggest heavyweight fight in world boxing? Why is one man chasing another?
Wilder even came out and stated the he wants 60% of the split in his favour for the AJ fight.
For anyone who follows boxing, that is a ridiculous claim
It is a crazy claim, and for a number of different reasons. Albeit in 2016, when Wilder was a smaller name, he agreed to fight Alexander Povetkin in a mandatory defence in Moscow for 70% of a $7.15 million purse bid from World of Boxing. $5.005 million. A career high pay day by a mile, and Widler was okay with these terms in 2016. That fight fell through due a failed drugs test by Povetkin.
Wilder would then make a voluntary defence against Cuban Luis Ortiz, taking a career high payday of $2.1 million for that fight at Barclays centre. Wilder vs. Fury in 2018 saw the purses at $4 million for Wilder, and $3 million for Fury. 57%/43% split. Another career high.
The rematch will of course to astronomically higher numbers, but when you consider that Joshua made $19.2 million for Klitschko in 2017, Wilder agreed to $5.005 million vs Povetkin at the same time. Joshua then made a reported $12.9 million to fight Carlos Takam, Wilder was taking $2.1 to fight Ortiz.
Joshua then made a reported $19 million for Parker and $20 million for Povetkin – Wilder was making $4 million for Fury. He does not make as much money as Joshua does – he does not deserve 60% based on any financial model. The 40% offer made to Deontay Wilder would likely triple his career high payday, if that offer was made, bottom line, it should have been accepted.
Wilder is fighting Fury in the rematch, and that is a phenomenal fight, and will be the fight of 2019 so far – no doubt. That removes Deontay Wilder from the running as to why he isn’t fighting AJ – money aside.
Tyson Fury, former Lineal Champion (27-0-1):
For a brief moment, Fury looked like he was going to make the April 13th date. His promoter, Frank Warren stated on numerous occasions that the fight would not be made unless it was a 50/50 purse split.
🗣️ Frank Warren has called on Anthony Joshua to demand a super-fight with Tyson Fury and reiterated that he thinks 50/50 is a fair split for the bout. [@talkSPORT]
— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) December 4, 2018
For exactly the same reasons as above, the fight cannot be made that . Tyson Fury does not bring 50% to the table, it does not make business sense.
Aside from purse splits and money, something else to consider
Joshua sold Wembley out vs. Klitschko, 90,000. He did the same in a Mandatory defence against a much less known Carlos Takam in Cardiff, 75,000. The same for Parker, another 75,000. Povetkin wasn’t a total sell out (I was there I can confirm that), over 80,000 in a mandatory defence again.
Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury was the best heavyweight fight I have watched live – in terms of drama and heart on display. It was a clash of styles that dreams are made off and a come story of the ages in terms of Fury.
It did not sell out the Staples Centre. Which has a capacity of 21,000.
It's FIGHT DAY! And look how many tickets r available (Blue is available). This is the Staples Centre's website. If this event was here in the UK it would be sold out. Shame I really wanted the ticket buys to be good. #WilderFury #FuryWilder #Boxing #DeontayWilder #TysonFury #RT pic.twitter.com/z4DrmwgBhd
— Dan 🇬🇧🇺🇲 (@dancountrylover) December 1, 2018
Of course ticket prices and the boxing base in Los Angeles is not as big as London or Cardiff plays into that, but Anthony Joshua has hype, and belts. That demands more money, and the 50/50 split that Warren demands is just as unrealistic.
For what it’s worth, I would give Fury the edge in a fight with Joshua. I think his style would prove too much and if I had to put money on it, I would back Tyson Fury. But Joshua is a bigger commercial draw. It’s almost indisputable. The fact these two fights were not made came down to monetary demands. Fury is not to blame here (I think he would fight Joshua in York Hall if it meant he won his belts back), this one is on Frank Warren, in my opinion.
Dillian Whyte, WBC Silver & WBO Intercontinental (25-1):
Coming off two massive victories in former world champion Joseph Parker and Derek Chisora, Dillian Whyte proved he will fight anyone, anywhere, any time. And credit to him.
The offer made to Dillian Whyte for the rematch was rumoured to exceed the $5 million (£4 million):
— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) January 22, 2019
Whyte, however, turned down the fight.
He has however since accepted a fight with former Joshua victim, American Dominic Breazeale. The fight is for the WBC interim world championship (Which make ZERO SENSE considering Wilder is still active, but thats another debate).
Whyte feels he knows his worth, and is now fighting for a world title. I can see him beating Breazeale and getting the title shot he deserves very soon. But the facts are he turned the fight down also.`
Luis Ortiz (30-1)
With his sole loss to Wilder, Ortiz is the king of the “who needs him club”.
With his crafty Cuban footwork, Ortiz is optimises Cuban heavyweight boxing made famous by the Rafeal Trejo school of boxing. Turning boxing into an art and making it a dance. But no one outside of the boxing hardcores know who he is, he very dangerous and he’s already been knocked out by Wilder.
That fight wouldn’t sell in the commercial age of boxing.
Olexsandr Usyk WBC, WBA, WBO & IBF Cruiserweight Champion (15-0)
The olympic gold medalist will be a handful for any heavyweight.
Coming off a massive KO win over Tony Bellew, Usyk is pretty much nailed on move up for his next fight, he even signed with DAZN so will be fighting under Eddie Hearn.
But why feed a potential superstar to (arguably) the best heavyweight in the world in his first fight in the glamour division?
Usyk needs to time to get used to heavyweight boxing. The Joshua fight would make no sense.
No rush for Wilder or Fury fights
There is no one else for Joshua to fight – other than Jarrell Miller. Fury and Widler are fighting each other, everyone else turned the fight down or the fight make no commercial sense.
Rest assured, Joshua Wilder and Joshua Fury will happen. It makes too much money for it not too. But label Joshua a “ducker” or a “dosser” for trying to grow his brand a is the US is simply naive. Lewis, Hamed, DeGale, Brook, all Brits who went to America to fight the Americans.
Miller is a brash, 140kg/315lb/22st, heavyweight, who will stand and trade and doesn’t pose too much of a risk to Anthony Joshua. To use Miller to grow AJ stateside is a perfect bit of business.
The boo-boys will also try and rubbish Anthony Joshua, but the facts are the facts – after 22 fights he has unified 3 of the 4 heavyweight belts – and beat more top 10 heavyweights than any other active heavyweights. Big Baby make perfect sense when you take into account DAZN as well. They a piece of the AJ pie as well.
This fight was obvious who anyone following the fight game.