Wilder vs. Joshua Unification Appears Likely
By: Eric Lunger
Can you say, “super-fight?” Can you say, “heavyweight unification in the UK?” Reports emerging late today from ESPN indicated that WBC Champion Deontay “the Bronze Bomber” Wilder has accepted terms offered by Eddie Hearn, who, of course, represents the undefeated WBO, WBA, IBF and IBO champion Anthony Joshua. That’s all four major belts, and the IBO belt thrown in for good measure.
ESPN reports that Shelly Finkel, Wilder’s manager, has “officially agreed to terms” with Eddie Hearn for a two-fight deal, with the first to take place in the UK, and a guaranteed rematch in the United States. Finkel was quoted that a contract was requested for signing, meaning that an agreement has been made verbally but details remain to be ironed out in writing. No mention of percentages was made.
So, the done deal is not done yet, but there is reason for sunny optimism. As to be expected, the irrepressible American champ let forth with a characteristic twitter blast: “the $50M offer for him to fight me next in the US is still available. Today I even agreed to their offer to fight Joshua next in the UK. If he prefers the fight in the UK, the ball is in their court.”
Joshua’s last outing was a twelve-round decision over talented and durable Joseph Parker of New Zealand. Previously undefeated, Parker relinquished his WBO belt to the charismatic British champion on consistent cards (118-110, 118-10, 119-109) in a competitive bout in Cardiff, Wales, in the end of March of this year. This fight ran Joshua’s record to an impressive 21-0, with 20 KOs.
Wilder’s last bout was an emphatic dismantling of heavyweight bogey man, and previously undefeated, Luis Ortiz of Cuba, also in March of this year. Wilder, now 40-0 with 39 KOs, has made no secret of his wish to face Joshua.
While both men boast stellar records, there is a sense among some in the fight game that Joshua is far from a fully polished fighter, while Wilder remains dynamically dangerous but flawed defensively.
Nonetheless, Joshua is a charismatic champion, a British fighter who wears his Nigerian roots proudly – both metaphorically by the way he comports himself and literally with his tattoos. Wilder can be brash and over the top at times, but he came into the sport in order to support his daughter, who was diagnosed with spina bifida. This is a match-up where both men are real role models. This is a match-up with passionate fans on both sides. This is UK vs US. Can you say, “Super-fight?”