Boxing, at the end of the day, isn’t about the most compelling fight or unifying belts. Rather, it is about the money promoters can wring out of events. Deontay Wilder, WBC wants those belts, and an unspoken assumption, the purse that a unification bout would bring.
Enter one of the three main players in the sport’s big-money class, England’s Anthony Joshua, the reigning IBF, WBA and IBO champion. Following Wilder’s second-round beatdown of Bermane Stiverne, the Tuscaloosa native had a bold proclamation for his UK rival:
Why can’t they meet or why haven’t they, as yet? Part of the issue is mandatories. Joshua, holding three belts, has more mandatory fights. And, no surprise, he holds those in his home nation’s venerable 90,000-seat Wembly, where he sells out consistently. Wilder has done much the same in the US with his mandatory fights, though attendance has been spottier, and his class of competition hasn’t been that great. That, of course, brings us to the other issue: the money. With more butts in seats and more national attention, Joshua’s promoter, Evan Hearn, has been able to schedule light fights like Wilder but still draw bigger purses. There’s little incentive for Hearn to schedule a single mega-fight.
And the Bronze Bomber has had enough. After “declaring war” on Joshua Saturday night, Wilder doubled-down on BBC Radio 5 last night, calling Joshua a little girl and promising to travel to the UK if need be to unify the belts.
After an increasingly-chippy war of words, it now looks like one of the biggest fights in the heavyweight division is one step closer to reality. Hearn confirmed this morning that he is in talk with Wilder’s camp to get a bout scheduled. And, for his part, Joshua seems to no longer be ducking the possibility, firing back some words today for Wilder indicating his status as the the bigger draw, the better fighter, and the top dog in the division.
This would be one of the largest fights in recent US boxing history and an infusion of excitement in America for the sport’s crown division.
So, you know, hope for the best...