MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — A much-anticipated undisputed heavyweight world championship fight between titleholders Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder remains a difficult deal to make. But at least Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has changed his tune about the timing of trying to make it.
Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, told ESPN that he wants to make the fight next rather than have unified titlist Joshua first fight an interim bout in August, which was his initial plan. Of course, Joshua still has business to attend to. He must get past titleholder Joseph Parker in their three-belt unification fight on March 31 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. But if he does, Hearn said he hopes to make the fight with Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs).
“I’d like to see the Wilder fight next,” said Hearn, who is in Southern California because his fighter, Scott Quigg, is facing featherweight world titlist Oscar Valdez on Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. “As far as I’m concerned Parker is a very difficult fight for Joshua, so we’re not really looking beyond that but, obviously, we want the Wilder fight. Joshua wants to be the undisputed heavyweight world champion. To do it we have to beat Wilder.”
Should England’s Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) defeat Parker — and he is the heavy favorite — Hearn was talking about bringing him to Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York for his United States debut to defend his belts against Brooklyn contender Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (20-0-1, 18 KOs), who would have to win an April 28 fight against former title challenger Johann Duhaupas, of France, to qualify.
Wilder escaped nearly being knocked out by Luis “King Kong” Ortiz in the seventh round to storm back to win by a brutal 10th-round knockout in a thrilling title defense on March 3 at Barclays Center, after which he and co-manager Shelly Finkel continued to call for a unification fight with Joshua.
Hearn said he is game to make the fight but has no plans to deal with Finkel. He said he’d instead deal with Al Haymon, Wilder’s co-manager, and Haymon underling Luis DeCubas Jr.
“I saw Shirley Winkel’s comments (after Wilder-Ortiz) and I’m never really going to make a fight with Shirley because we’re very different people,” Hearn said, mocking Finkel’s name. “We’re on different wavelengths. So I sent my dad (Matchroom boss Barry Hearn) to go and see Shirley (in November). And they had a chat and talked about the ’60s and all that sort of stuff. And my conversations are with Al Haymon and Luis DeCubas. That’s how I’m going to make the fight. I make fights with Luis like this (snaps fingers). We’ll make the fight like that.
“The truth is Wilder wants the fight, Joshua wants the fight. I want the fight. They want the fight. As you know when that happens, fights get made.”
Hearn said he would like to make a two-fight deal with Joshua-Wilder I taking place in the United States, at Barclays Center or in Las Vegas, sometime between October and December on pay-per-view with a rematch in England.
“We’ll have to sit down and see who comes up with the money [to host the fight],” Hearn said. “It’s the biggest fight in world boxing. If we don’t make the Wilder fight [next] I think it’s likely that Joshua will box in the U.S. next [against Miller]. A summer fight only if we can’t make the Wilder fight. If we have our interim fight, it would be in Brooklyn.”
Hearn said he hopes an interim fight won’t be needed because they’ll have a deal in place to fight Wilder.
“After March 31, we’ll go from there,” he said. “We’d like to open talks immediately.”
After Wilder retained his title for the seventh time by knocking out Ortiz, he and Finkel claimed Joshua and Hearn were ducking the fight.
“How many times do I got to call him out? How many times? They hiding,” Wilder said at his post-fight news conference. “His promoter don’t want that fight and after [knocking out Ortiz] they definitely won’t want it. I’ve done enough, I’ve spoken enough. … All you got to do is pick up the phone.”