WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder wasted no time Saturday night after blowing away former world champ Bermane Stiverne in one round. In no uncertain terms, “The Bronze Bomber” wants a unification bout with IBF/WBA champ Anthony Joshua.
“I declare war upon you,” Wilder told Showtime’s Jim Gray in his post-fight interview, referring to Joshua. “Do you accept my challenge? I know I’m the champion, I know I’m the best. Are you up for the test?”
Although boxing betting odds at SBG Global.eu would have Joshua as the big favorite going into a bout between the two ring giants, more than a few experts would give Wilder a great puncher’s chance in pulling off the upset.
The return fire following Wilder’s declaration of war was short, sweet, and delivered through Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn: “I’ll eat him.”
But, although the stage seems to be set for a heavyweight title unification bout between two of the sport’s heaviest hitters, getting the fight made is not that simple.
Joshua, who is an emerging superstar in his native Great Britain, is making huge money and selling out stadiums, regardless of who he fights. His recent one-sided romp against Carlos Takam brought 78,000 fans to Principality Stadium in Cardiff Wales and generated a purse of close to $20 million. Meanwhile, Wilder is nowhere near as large a draw and has yet to see even a $3 million payday.
Simply put, Joshua doesn’t need Wilder to get paid and, actually may have bigger paydays against easier opposition lined up in front of him. A bout with former champ Tyson Fury would be an absolute blockbuster in the UK and generate more money than any other contest possible for Joshua at the moment. Even a bout with a retread David Haye would be a bigger money fight than a Wilder clash.
So, while Wilder may have parity when it comes to champion status, he is nowhere near an equal when it comes to financial might. And it’s that fact that will make negotiations difficult. Actually, Joshua doesn’t have to negotiate at all, not right now anyway.
Fans seem happy with cheering Joshua on, no matter what, and that puts into question whether there will be much public pressure on Joshua’s team to make a Wilder bout at all. Again, not right now, anyway.
But Wilder will keep pushing forward because Joshua is where the money is and it’s also where he can win some of the fan and media respect that has thus far eluded him during his championship run. Expect the heavy-handed American to keep calling out his UK counterpart until they actually meet in the ring.
“Joshua come and see me baby,” Wilder added, post-fight. “No more dodging, no more excuses. Make the date, don’t wait.”