Despite the fact that WBO, WBA (Super), IBF and IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has a date with Jarrell Miller at Madison Square Garden on June 1 and WBC champion Deontay Wilder was recently negotiating a rematch with Tyson Fury, the unification fight between Wilder and Joshua is what every boxing fan wants to see.
Either man could become the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the world since Lennox Lewis at the turn of the millennium, but the stop-start negotiations have left fans frustrated.
Now that Joshua is tied up with Miller, his next available showdown is probably at the end of the year in December, but Wilder’s co-manager Shelly Finkel appeared on talkSPORT’s Fight Night and stated he’s not talking to Hearn and refuses to until AJ and Hearn “get off their high horse”.
Finkel also went on record for the first time to detail how Hearn tried to negotiate with him and frequently arranged meetings that he didn’t bother following through on.
When asked if the offer Hearn made to Wilder was anywhere near what they expected, Finkel said: “Nowhere, not worth a return reply, even. I’ll tell you why I’m not talking to him at all at this moment, so you know. I’ve told this to people off the record, but I’ll say it the way it is.
“When Canelo [Saul Alvarez] was fighting at Madison Square Garden on December 15 , that week – early in the week – Eddie called me and he said ‘can we meet?’. I said ‘Let’s do it on the phone’. He said ‘Look, I got a big offer for you,’ and I said ‘I don’t want any offers from you’. I said ‘The Eddie/Joshua show is over. If you want to make a fight, we sit down and make a fight. We worry about what the split is when we sit down. And then, we’ll go out to promote the fight to make it the biggest fight possible’.
“He said ‘That’s fine with me’. He says ‘When do you want to meet?’ I said ‘I’ll send you an e-mail, I’ll look at my calendar’. I sent him an e-mail saying Friday 14 at 3pm. He never responded. I never heard from him. I come home that evening and on this phone – the answering machine – had a message from him, that he called at 3pm.
“So I called him 10pm that evening and said ‘Eddie, you never responded to my e-mail, you have my office number, you have my e-mail address, you have my mobile number – why didn’t you try any of those numbers?’ [Eddie says] ‘I can’t talk now, I’m in a restaurant,’ I said ‘OK’. He said ‘How about tomorrow?’ I said ‘What time?’ He said ’10am?’ I said ‘I will call you at 10am’.
“I called him at 10am, he never answered, never returned the call. That afternoon and evening Joshua is interviewed at MSG and he says ‘Look, what does the guy want? I’m giving him Wembley and I’m…’ – stop giving me. We’re not looking for a handout. We’re looking to make the right deal for the two fighters.
“If Joshua and Eddie really want to make a deal, they get off their high horse and they say ‘OK, we’re ready to make a deal, we’re not offering you things, what do you want?’ That’s not in their mindset and I have no interest in going any further with it.”
Of course, this is just Finkel’s version of events. However, there’s little denying that this is the fight that fans want above all else right now in the heavyweight division and if it didn’t happen – especially while they are in possession of all the titles – the legacies of both men would surely take a hit.
Wilder looks like he may have to take a rematch with Luis Ortiz or perhaps fight Dominic Breazeale next and the latter’s only loss came against Joshua. Dillian Whyte is also in the WBC picture and if Breazeale does get Wilder, he will aim to become the mandatory challenger to the winner.