Is Deontay Wilder Going Down a Nowhere Road?
By: Charles Jay
Well, I tried. I tried to give you guys the biggest fight of your lives, the most exciting fight in world history. The first undisputed, undefeated, WBC, WBA, WBO AND IBF unified Heavyweight Champion Of The World since Lewis.They tried too you know… They asked for jungle deep numbers. Just to get out of the fight not knowing we were hustlers so we served’em (The Money’s In Da Bag)Just like a game of spades… What he do? That Nicca Benig smdh Just told a bold face lie, he’s not a stand up guy. Instead, he wanted to fight in his country”I respect that”They offered me a “Flat Fee” Crack Head money, something that’s equivalent to a pack of peanuts and loaf bread and a jar of honey!Look I represent the Dirty South I am a product of my own environment. Bama is where I made it out.This survival food I’m use to it, So I said bet “Give me the gun ll do it”.I just basically took the lowest offer in boxing history for a unified title bout… smh”Brain Dead” My team and I bent over backwards pause accepting everything they threw at us just to find out this Boy is terrified of me P****.3 months of Tea Parties by grown men they didn’t even have British hospitality and offer biscuits w/ the tea smh Damn!I said all that past s*** to tell the story and to apologize , I’m sorry guys they played us all.F***’em!! We move forward the future is still bright #51-0 baby let’s go.
That is admittedly not the most cohesive statement on the part of Deontay Wilder, the WBC heavyweight champion. But you might get the point; he is disgusted that he isn’t getting his opportunity to unify the championship against Anthony Joshua – not right away, anyway, as Joshua must first satisfy a mandatory requirement to face Alexander Povetkin.
Have you ever heard of the “golden rule”? Well, let’s paraphrase it – he who mines the gold makes the rules.
And as far as this duo is concerned, guess who that is?
Well, until Wilder starts filling up Legion Field in his native Alabama, it’s the guy on the other side of the pond.
And so if he wants the big bucks, he’s going to have to wait a while. Does he really have a choice?
Earlier in the week, we wrote about the GGG-Canelo fight, and as a sidelight to that story, Gennady Golovkin was stripped of his IBF version of the title, essentially because he went and fought Vanes Martirosyan instead of their mandatory challenger. But the thing, having one less belt to fight for in that scheduled September 15 matchup doesn’t really make a whole lot of impact on whatever overall interest the fight generates.
In this particular case – that of Wilder and Joshua – it’s different. Let’s explain.
These guys are both heavyweight champions, but that isn’t the division that creates the automatic glamour it used to. Joshua is big over in the UK, of course, but he is not so much of a household name over here. Wilder has a sparkling record of 40-0 with 39 knockouts, but he hasn’t fought a glittering roster of opponents and isn’t exactly “instant money.”
The fact is, neither has shown the ability to carry a Pay Per View event on his own strength in the U.S. In fact, Joshua has not even fought in the States.
You see what Wilder leads with – describing “the biggest fight of your lives” as “The first undisputed, undefeated, WBC, WBA, WBO AND IBF unified Heavyweight Champion Of The World since Lewis..”
So the point is, this is a fight that would appear to NEED to be for the undisputed title, in order to have the kind of cachet needed to score big enough in the Pay Per View market to satisfy what the financial demands of these guys would be.
In other words, these fighters need all the belts because they are not yet at the point where they are bigger than the titles they have.
And contrary to the impression the Wilder camp might be looking to create, the World Boxing Association (WBA) didn’t just suddenly come into the picture. They had been demanding that Joshua face mandatory challenger Povetkin for some time. On April 29, the WBA gave their champion 30 days to make the fight with Povetkin (who is also the WBO’s #1), and then even gave him an extension beyond that, because they were allowing for the Wilder negotiations to take place.
And Wilder can’t say he isn’t familiar with mandatories; the WBC had required him to fight their mandatory challenger, Bernard Stiverne, a second time, and he did just that, stepping in as a substitute after Luis Ortiz had failed a drug test pursuant to their scheduled fight in November of last year.
Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, who is Joshua’s promoter, revealed that he had given Wilder two weeks to make a deal back on June 4, and naturally that deadline wasn’t met, for whatever reason. At such point as the WBA felt the negotiations had stalled, they made the demand for Joshua to make a deal with Povetkin within 24 hours. As a result, we are looking at a September 22 date for that.
Also, the WBA probably wanted to put Povetkin into that fight, due to the strength of his connections. And let’s face it – the WBA is going to do whatever it wants anyway; how else could one explain why they have kept Fres Oquendo in the picture as a mandatory challenger for their “regular” title for over four years, despite not being court-ordered to do so?
And hey – we’re not saying that Hearn didn’t want to avoid a Wilder deal, as has been implied, for the time being. Who knows?
But the fact of the matter – as we sit here today – is that if Joshua fights Wilder and not Povetkin first, we wouldn’t have an undisputed title fight anymore. Someone else would be the “real” WBA champion.
According to Shelly Finkel, Wilder’s co-manager, the offer to go to the UK was $15 million with a rematch clause. It wasn’t exactly “crack head money.” Instead, it was many times more than the career-high $2.1 million he reportedly earned when he eventually fought Ortiz.
When he mentions a “flat fee,” Wilder is making references to that offer, relative to what he his team (which includes Finkel and advisor Al Haymon) had previously proposed, which involved $50 million to Joshua to come to the States. This is the email sent from Finkel to Hearn, as it was reproduced at the Daily Express, a British news site:
With all due respect you know Al and I for a long time and you know this is not a Publicity stunt. I assure you that we’re serious and we would be glad to sit down with you and provide proper security for the funding and work out all the details. But it all has to start with Anthony Joshua accepting the $50 million offer that he asked for, which is also by far the largest guarantee and largest purse any heavyweight champion has ever made. Until then, it would be non-productive to meet. Please have Anthony accept the offer that he asked for and let’s get this fight made.
As far as that $50 million offer is concerned; well, if you remember one thing about professional boxing, remember this:
When it comes to the big money, there is never a deal until the contract is signed.
From Hearn’s standpoint, he never saw a contract and therefore was not just going to take it on faith that the money was real.
And the WBA just went down that road with the purse bid for their “regular” title, as a group connected to Oquendo and Chicago promoter Bobby Hitz came up empty when it was time to secure their $600,000 bid, ultimately leading to that fight (against “champion” Manuel Charr) being taken out of the Windy City and over to Germany.
There is a difference between wishing and hoping that you can produce enough revenue to support an offer, and actually having the strength to make a guarantee based on having those funds on hand, or knowing exactly where they are coming from. We’re not saying that they couldn’t get the money, but they may have been basing their offer on some unreasonably optimistic estimates. From what we’ve been able to ascertain, Wilder had been penciled in for about $12.5 million in this deal. So why wasn’t the $15 million offer from Hearn a better one? Because Wilder’s expectation is that he, and not Joshua, would participate in the upside from the offer described in Finkel’s letter, which, as mentioned, mandated that the fight take place on U.S. soil.
So would there indeed be some upside? Well, if you’ve got anywhere from $65-$70 million all-in, you are going to have to do a monster gate as a high-ticket item in Las Vegas, or, as we alluded to earlier in the story, sell out a place like Legion Field in Wilder’s home territory of Birmingham, which has over 71,000 seats. And a boatload of Joshua fans from overseas would have to make the trip. They’d have to get a very lucrative sponsorship deal of some kind. They would most likely have to do in excess of a million buys on Pay Per View in the United States. And they would have to do extremely well in the European PPV market.
I don’t really see it, though I could be wrong. Maybe it’s there. Maybe they had a way to secure those funds. But it’s a moot point now. And of course, we leave open the possibility that Joshua just doesn’t want to come and fight Wilder in the U.S.
Let’s also leave open the possibility that Wilder doesn’t want to fight Joshua at all.
Because now we have come to the next phase, which is the part where Wilder has now turned down an offer of $20 million from Hearn, who would allow him to fight an opponent, pretty much of his own choosing, in September or October (for $5 million), followed by an April bout at Wembley Stadium for the aforementioned $15 million.
He’s got a whole different idea of himself now.
As he told Brendan Schaub on an upcoming installment of Showtime’s “Below the Belt,” he’s not taking anything less than a 50-50 split.
In what universe would Deontay Wilder command financial parity with someone who can sell out a 90,000-seat stadium? Who made a reported $18 million for fighting Joey Parker and well over $20 million to fight Wladimir Klitschko? If Wilder was at that level, the 32-year-old, who has made seven defenses of his WBC title, would have made far more than a career-high of $2.1 million in a single fight. Truth be told, this fight would sell a lot more tickets in Birmingham, England than it would in Birmingham, Alabama.
I’m fairly certain Wilder isn’t increasing his value a whole lot here.
This isn’t the playground. It’s a business. And just as important as being able to exercise leverage is knowing when the other side can leverage YOU, because that’s how you determine when you have a deal you should take. Shelly Finkel ought to know this better than anybody.
And here are the basics of it: Deontay Wilder needs Anthony Joshua a lot more than Anthony Joshua needs Deontay Wilder. That is probably the MOST undisputed thing about this matchup.
As for Eddie Hearn; well, he is going to have his deal with streaming service DAZN in place, whether Wilder is on the menu or not. And although these events are ever-changing, he may just let Wilder sweat it out, trying to find someone to make a huge payday with. That road might lead nowhere.
Wilder told a reporter from British Boxing News on Friday, “I’m just glad the blindfolds are off the people’s eyes. Even casual fans can see what happened.”
Well, if you made me guess, I’d say even the casual observer has to wonder who’s driving the bus.