Deontay Wilder wants to fight Anthony Joshua. He doesn’t want it so badly that he’s willing to turn himself over to the streaming network DAZN for a multi-fight package that may not include a Joshua fight.
“I tried to do the noble thing and fight the best,” Wilder (40-0-1, 39 knockouts) announced Tuesday at a Brooklyn news conference where it was officially announced that he’ll fight his mandatory World Boxing Council challenger Dominic Breazeale (20-1, 18 KOs) of Eastvale May 18 on Showtime at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
“Everyone wants to see the big fight … . We can only take one fight — one step — at a time.”
So Wilder parlayed a meeting last week with DAZN executive chairman John Skipper into a likely — but unconfirmed – bump in purse from the original $12.5 million he was offered to fight Breazeale on Showtime, and then allowed the wait to continue for a possible four-belt unification with Joshua, who defends his three belts June 1 in his U.S. debut on the new streaming service DAZN versus Brooklyn’s Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller.
Three individuals familiar with Wilder’s thinking said he was not sold that DAZN could deliver Joshua for the showdown, and he also assesses even more money can be available down the road. Wilder manager Shelly Finkel said he was also troubled by DAZN not revealing what Joshua would be paid for the fight.
Representatives of both DAZN and Showtime confirmed they are working with the respective heavyweights on a fight-by-fight basis, so if the unification happens, it will likely go to the highest broadcast bidder.
DAZN tried to be that, believing its connection to Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearnwould keep the Brit on board if a Wilder deal could’ve been completed. So DAZN offered Wilder $20 million to fight Breazeale on DAZN, and another $80 million guaranteed to fight Joshua twice more after that.
That keeps with Skipper’s point in his visit to the Los Angeles Times last week, where he said his “fresh set of eyes” to previous acrimony between the fighters’ camps could help bridge them together.
Skipper reminded Wilder at the meeting that he was offering the Alabama slugger “unprecedented” money, according to an individual who attended the session, to which Wilder’s powerful manager and Premier Boxing Champions head Al Haymon whispered in Wilder’s ear and referred to the massive sum as “training camp money” to Haymon’s retired fighter Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“They handled it unprofessionally, to be honest. They went to that meeting just because they needed to know how much to supplement Wilder from what [Showtime] was offering,” said the individual, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Showtime’s Espinoza, meanwhile, told The Times after Wilder’s news conference that the network which brought Joshua to U.S. television intends to have “continuing discussions” with Wilder to stage the Joshua fight.
Espinoza affirmed to reporters that Showtime, which has taken a backseat to Fox with PBC this quarter, is stronger than ever and plans to remain a viable player in boxing broadcasting.
That left Wilder to build up the Breazeale fight, which he admitted does not deserve to be on pay-per-view – “one where you miss your rent money to watch this fight. I’m the people’s champion. I want to be fair to the people.
“I bring the excitement to the heavyweight division. I hold the keys … I am the man … I am the puzzle piece. No one else is knocking out guys like me. For now, this is the right fight for me,” Wilder said.
“I consider the mandatories like flies, always buzzing in my ear. It’s time to see one champion, one face, one name. But you need cooperation for that.”
Breazeale has aligned with Bay Area trainer Virgil Hunter, who has worked the corners of former two-division champion Andre Ward and works with coming welterweight title challenger Amir Khan.
Breazeale has knocked out three consecutive opponents to become the mandatory challenger, and has a past beef with Wilder after the pair scuffled at a hotel in February 2017.
“I’ve stolen the show every time I’ve been on his card,” Breazeale jabbed.
“I’m sick of watching this bum with a belt around his waist. I’m going to knock him on his…. All you do is talk.”
Wilder then delivered Breazeale an earful of anguish, a perhaps a result of his pent-up frustration at seeing Tyson Fury avoid a rematch and move to ESPN.
“I can’t wait for this one. I love this sport. Payback is a [pain]. Every man I face, they end up on the canvas. I expect them to make funeral arrangements [for Breazeale],” Wilder said.
“I’m going to be the judge in the ring. I’m going to run this fool over. I can’t wait. You know what to expect. I bring the pain. Devastating knockouts. I try to punch through them and grab their brain like Mortal Kombat. I’m going to show you street style.”
Courtesy of LA times