Right now the biggest fight in boxing is an all-British showdown between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. But just over 12 months ago it was the thought of Joshua vs Deontay Wilder which had fight fans everywhere salivating.
Back then, in the early part of 2019, both Joshua (now 23-1) and Wilder (now 42-1-1) were both still undefeated and between them held all the major world heavyweight title belts. The dream of a blockbusting showdown to unify the titles loomed. large.
Fledgling streaming service DAZN – with whom Hearn’s Matchroom has a $1billion eight-year deal – reportedly made Wilder a huge $100million offer in March 2019 – $20million to fight Dominic Breazeale followed by $40million for each fight of a double-header against Joshua.
But the offer was turned down and Joshua and Wilder have yet to meet inside a ring – maybe now they never will. Hearn, speaking to Chris Mannix on the SI Boxing Podcast, explained why he thinks the fight didn’t happen.
“We’ve been back and forward about the Wilder negotiations for so long. But I’ve been in there. I was trying to speak to people on the phone, I was sending the e-mails, I had a couple of meetings with these people. I know deep down they didn’t want that fight at that time. I’m not saying that Wilder was scared – Wilder might not even have known.
“But sometimes, you get the flavour where you think you’re banging your head. There were times during that period sometimes I where I was sending like three, four, five emails a week or making a phone call – and I would not hear back. And then I’d see an article on Boxing Scene saying ‘Hearn don’t want the fight’ and I’m thinking ‘am I going mad here?'”
Hearn noted that in comparison with that ultimately failed venture, negotiations to get to a stage where Fury vs Joshua is even agreed in principle for a double-header in 2021 were much easier, explaining: “I think they were because genuinely both teams, both guys, want the fight.”
He went on: “In this instance really what you had to overcome here is Team Fury is a big team with many different people involved, on the AJ side it’s AJ and he’s my boss – it’s me, and it’s his management team. But generally in terms of negotiations, you’re dealing with me. But it doesn’t matter how many people are on one team, if you want the fight you make the fight happen.
“And everybody I think just realises, especially coming through the pandemic, we have to do it. Whether you like it or not we’ve got to do it – we’re idiots if we don’t do it. And Fury wants it and Joshua wants it. And there’s so much money in the fight – whether you’re in it for greed or ego or legacy – it ticks every box. And that’s why I’m very confident that even with a couple of hurdles to overcome, we will have it done.”