Matchroom Boxing boss Eddie Hearn has revealed that he remains hopeful of putting together the long awaited heavyweight championship unification showdown between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder before the end of the year - although he has warned the American and his representatives that AJ will move on if a deal is not reached soon.
IBF, IBO, WBO and WBA Super heavyweight champion Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) had widely been expected to meet his WBA mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) in his next contest in early autumn.
However, as per worldboxingnews.net, Hearn has stated that a clash with WBC champion Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) is back in the running after the American's team belated response to an offer for the fight.
“We made an offer four weeks ago and they came back on Monday - three and a half weeks later to accept - we thought the fight was dead, we had got the Povetkin fight ready for September," said Hearn.
“But we take this very seriously because it’s a fight Joshua wants, now we’re putting the contract together and expect to have it with them close of play tomorrow."
Then came an interesting quote from Hearn.
He concluded by saying a lot of people have said Wilder's team are only accepting the offer because they've heard about the Povetkin fight.
"Hopefully they’re for real; a lot of people have said they are only accepting the offer because they heard we were going to fight Povetkin," he said.
After much speculation, it appears that Joshua's next contest will almost certainly take place in the UK. A September 15 date at Wembley had been targeted for the 28-year-old's return to the ring, but was scuppered when Golden Boy Promotions announced the Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin rematch for the same night.
The Principality Stadium in Cardiff now looks set to be the front runner to host, albeit later in the year.
"Originally the plan was September for Wilder at Wembley, we want it at Wembley badly...We can’t do that now, because firstly Canelo and Golovkin have taken the date (in September) and secondly, ten weeks isn’t long enough to do the worldwide media tours you would need for this fight," Hearn added.
Hearn also explained that whilst AJ definitely wants Wilder next, he will not wait too much longer for him to agree terms - and that Russia's Povetkin remains firmly in the frame should negotiations stall once more.
"Joshua is in camp now, but if it drags on we will fight Povetkin which doesn’t mean we stop with Wilder. We would still sign for the fight with Wilder but it would have to be after Povetkin, I’m not having Joshua’s career held up by Wilder...Now we are looking October/November but it would have to be in Cardiff, which isn’t a problem so we will look at it and the dates."
Joshua's next fight is also expected be a key element of the launch Hearn's $1 billion deal with streaming giant DAZN, which commences in the final quarter of 2018. Unsurprisingly, Hearn is keen to keep his most lucrative broadcast partner happy.
“We wont let it drag out, this is a great fight for DAZN and they want to know because it’s a lot of money for them, so they need to know soon,” Hearn insisted
Such is the interest (and revenue) that would be generated by an Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder fight that it is borderline unfathomable that the pair will not meet in the ring at some point. Time seems very much of the essence though if Team Wilder want their man to be Joshua's next opponent.