WBO, IBO, IBF & WBA world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (21-0, 20KOs) will accept a pay cut to fight Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39KOs) on British soil.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn told Telegraph Sport that the Londoner would take fighting at home over more money: “AJ’s not really swayed by an extra £10m or £15m. He’d rather do the fight over here in front of his fans.
“AJ will have to take a pay cut to fight in the UK and I don’t think he’s that bothered. The offer that they made, if that was open to a UK fight, we would have signed immediately. But obviously, they want to pay the money to get AJ to Wilder’s back yard. At the moment we’re all still talking and communication continues. But there is a feeling from our camp this undisputed fight should be in the UK.
“Rob who is trainer, manager and an ex-fighter, knows the advantage of being at home. AJ genuinely loves fighting in the UK. He knows there has never been an undisputed fight before, he was the first unification fight in Britain in the heavyweight division. So to do an undisputed heavyweight unification fight in the UK, would be historic. But whether Wilder’s team feel the same, like I said, those talks are ongoing. But that’s the general feeling from AJ and Rob.”
The WBC heavyweight champion made an public offer on social media of $50m (£37m) to fight AJ a few weeks back. What team Wilder failed to mention was that the offer included Joshua having to fight in the US.
Joshua played down the rumours of him accepting to fight Wilder in the US on Sunday saying: “So with this Las Vegas talk, I owe it to everyone in Great Britain that has been supporting me to do my best to get this fight in the U.K., in my opinion, that’s number one.
Eddie Hearn echoed that statement today:
“One thing is for absolute certain, AJ wants Wilder next. He’s made that clear. He also feels though, after talking to Rob McCracken, his trainer and manager, that this is a fight that should be delivered in the UK. One for the fans and two, he feels like he’s earned that right.
“A lot of it depends on Wilder’s attitude towards it all. Certainly we don’t have a problem if Wilder was to win the fight, doing a second one in America. He would have earned that right.
“Wilder has boxed in Sheffield before. He agreed to box in Russia for $4m (£2.9m). When we sat down it seemed a little bit weird to be traveling over to the US for a fight of this magnitude with so much on the line.
“As a fighter, AJ doesn’t care where the fight is. He doesn’t know enough about the game. But Rob was like, ‘Why go to America?’ There’s a difference in going when the money is not life-changing.
“Yes, fighting in the UK is an advantage. But AJ genuinely is thinking more of the fans in his decision. How many would we be able to get in America? Maybe 6,000 to 10,000 fans. AJ said: ‘Is that it?’ When you’re dealing with 90,000 and he could bring an undisputed championship fight to Britain, AJ is genuinely interested in that stuff. The old saying about how you have to go to America to make it big, I don’t see that anymore. That’s not in AJ’s mind.
“I think Rob’s feeling is as an ex-fighter you should fight for these belts on your turf. There’s an interview AJ did after his last fight that has been played back a few times and he basically says, for years and years British fighters have had to go to America for the big fights.”
The landscape in the world of boxing is changing and fighting in the US does not have the same pull as it once did. Especially when it comes to a guy like ‘AJ’ who has had 250,000 people come to watch him in his last three fights. He has the belts and he is the main draw not Wilder.
The other stumbling block that could derail the monster heavyweight showdown is WBA mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin who is waiting in the wings if both camps fail to negotiate, Hearn said:
“There have been talks ongoing with Alexander Povetkin’s team because he’s our mandatory opponent (for the WBA title). If it’s not Wilder it will almost certainly be Povetkin, which is also a tough fight. We’ll see how the conversations go, but I’d say we’ve got another three weeks to go.
Being a boxing fan all I want is for the fight to be signed but for selfish reasons I would love for the fight to take place in my country so of course I salute you Mr Joshua!