The fans want to see Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder unify their titles in a heavyweight battle that promises fireworks. It looks like they will get their wish at some point in 2018.
Before he headed to Times Square for a press conference, Eddie Hearn had breakfast Thursday morning with Al Haymon and Shelly Finkel.
England’s Hearn, whose company promotes British superstar Anthony Joshua, met face-to-face with Haymon and Shelly Finkel for the first time to discuss the eventual showdown between Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) and fellow heavyweight knockout artist Deontay Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs). Haymon, Wilder’s adviser, and Finkel, Wilder’s manager, will represent the WBC champion in all negotiations for the Joshua fight.
Hearn, managing director for Matchroom Boxing, left the exploratory meeting optimistic about the possibility of making Joshua-Wilder sometime in 2018, but provided few details of what was discussed.
“It was pleasant,” Hearn told BoxingScene.com before a press conference Thursday for the HBO tripleheader he is promoting Saturday night in Uniondale, New York. “I can’t tell you too much, other than it was positive and talks are ongoing, and we’re optimistic. I think the first meeting is always important, to lay down the marker. I saw Shelly’s comments, saying that, ‘Oh, he just wants to turn up and show they’re [interested].’
“And I wanted to make a statement early in the meeting to say, ‘No, no. Look, guys, we want this fight. Whether it happens next or the one after, it has to happen in 2018. And that’s why I’m here. Not so I can go back to the press conference or social media and say we had a meeting, we made them an offer and they don’t wanna [take it].’ It was a good meeting. The negotiations will continue behind closed doors and we’re all optimistic. I think that’s the message to come out of it.”
Finkel told ESPN.com on Wednesday night that he expected Hearn to “dance around and nothing will happen, and he will spin it, but we want to make the fight.” Hearn tried not to take Finkel’s comments personally.
“The only thing that annoyed me, really, was the perception that Joshua’s been running from this fight for ages,” Hearn said. “And the fact is, I reached out to them, first of all. Yes, Shelly did call me back, as he would. We’ve had no offers, we’ve had no approaches and the first time this fight was discussed with Anthony was on Tuesday, in my office. So how can we be running, when we’ve never even talked about it before? Now we’re talking about it. But we’ve still got a long way to go. The best way to put it is there is a desire to from both camps to get this fight made. And when there is that desire, you hope there can be some common ground. And we’ll find that out over the coming weeks.”
Hearn reiterated that he doesn’t expect Joshua-Wilder to take place next. It is more likely, according to Hearn, that in his next fight Joshua will make either a mandatory defense of his WBA title against an undetermined opponent or face New Zealand’s Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KOs), the WBO champion.
“I don’t think the Wilder fight will happen next, to be honest,” Hearn said. “But we could do it if the deal was right. [If not], then we’d like Joseph Parker. And if we can’t get Joseph Parker, then we look at our WBA mandatory or a voluntary, or something like that. Joshua’s in Dubai. He’s there for two weeks. And then he’s gonna start camp. So February, March, something like that, he would be good to go.
“But if it’s a bigger fight, if the Wilder fight happened in April or May, maybe that would just be next for us and we’d hang on. But it’s very early days at the moment. Literally, my first meeting with Anthony, post-Takam, was on Tuesday. So now, we go out, we look around the whole market, all the opportunities, we present them to Anthony and his team, and we make a decision. But he wants the Wilder fight, we want the Wilder fight and I think the fans, a hundred percent, want the Wilder fight. And it’s important that it gets made.”