Though all parties involved were optimistic that a Heavyweight unification match between undefeated champions Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder could be finalized, Joshua has left Wilder at the altar according to reports and will defend his title against Alexander Povetkin in the fall.
In a profanity-laced rant on social media, Wilder blasted Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn calling them cowards and accused them of blatantly ducking the fight. Hearn responded that they never heard back from Wilder’s team after allegedly sending them a contract over two weeks ago and could not wait any further when the WBA gave a 24 hour deadline for Joshua to come to terms with Povetkin.
It is unbelievable that one of the sport’s biggest personalities and most powerful promoters would be brought to their knees by a sanctioning body of all things and a 24 hour do-or-die deadline. To be even more clear, it’s bullshit. The past few weeks was nothing more than a power play by Joshua and Hearn to reveal how far Wilder’s team was willing to go on the table, knowing full well they were going to stick to their guns the whole time.
Wilder is furious, and it is easy to sympathize. It was absolutely imperative for his team to offer the best deal they could and get Joshua in the ring as soon as they could. Every time Joshua gets in the ring, it is a spectacle in the UK regardless of opponent with the British champ bankrolling big paydays each time out. If Wilder wasn’t able to put forward an offer good enough to dissuade Joshua’s current path, there are a series of fights he can take that’ll generate huge returns and make eventual negotiations very one-sided.
Joshua’s options include a rematch with Dillian Whyte, a long discussed clash with Jarrell Miller and a superfight with Tyson Fury that is easily Joshua’s best option. Wilder’s insistence on fighting Joshua ensures that he will be taking fights that’ll keep that possibility alive, in turn allowing Joshua to work his way down his list until he does get to Wilder.
Unless Wilder is able to throw a wrench in Joshua’s plans by coercing Fury to a fight or fighting Whyte before Joshua gets the opportunity, he’ll have to settle for Dominic Breazeale, Travis Kauffman or whoever is the next man up for the immediate now. With his eye clearly on the reward, Wilder is going to minimize the risk to get there. What bargaining power Wilder will have going to the table with Joshua, if any, will be left to fate once the stars align for their clash to happen.
Rest assured, Joshua/Wilder is going to happen, but it’s not going to be any time soon to the dismay of a global audience who would have no doubt been drawn to the spectacle of a US vs UK showdown for the undisputed Heavyweight championship of the world.