With Anthony Joshua set to announce his next opponent in the near future, and having booked Wembley Stadium in both September of this year and April of next year, time is running out to agree a unification battle between the British WBA, WBO and IBF champion and American WBC strap holder Deontay Wilder.
Bad blood between the respective camps of the heavyweight stars is threatening to scupper any chances of the heavyweight division being fully unified for the first time in its history, and should Wilder be passed over for April too, Eddie Hearn has suggested fellow British fighter Dillian Whyte could be in line for a Joshua rematch.
Joshua and Whyte fought a thrilling back and forth battle in late 2015, and should both continue to win, there would be strong demand from the British public for a rematch.
Joshua was seriously tested by Whyte before securing victory with a vicious seventh round knockout, a classic second round seeing the Watford megastar wobbled for the first time in his career and almost stopped.
Whyte faces another Joshua victim in Joseph Parker later this month in what many see as a 50-50 fight.
WBA mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin is a virtual shoo-in to be Joshua’s next opponent after the WBA finally lost patience with Joshua/Wilder negotiations and announced they would enforce a mandatory defence.
Wilder baulked at the final offer made to him by Matchroom Sports, who promote Joshua, of a flat $15 million fee with no share in the PPV money.
A final pot in the region of $75/100 million is not out of the question, Wilder reasoning that as WBC champion he deserves more money than he is currently being offered.
Wilder has previously stated that he would accept nothing less than a 50-50 split of any pot, although the veracity of such statements should be taken with a pinch of salt; Joshua has sold out the 78,000 capacity Principality Stadium in Cardiff in his last two fights, while Wilder is more accustomed to fighting in front of less than 10,000 fans in his native Birmingham, Alabama.
With Joshua the clear financial A-side, but with Wilder holding the last remaining heavyweight belt hostage, a compromise must be reached should the best fight in the blue-riband division as it stands be realised.
According to Boxing News 24, Eddie Hearn said: “If Wilder does not sign to fight Joshua and Whyte wins (against Joseph Parker), that’s the Wembley fight. But I have to stress, 100% focus is the Wilder fight after Povetkin.
“I spoke to him [Joshua] yesterday. He was very bullish. He said, ‘I’m going to walk through Povetkin, and then I’m going to walk through Wilder,’.”
With the now returned Tyson Fury waiting in the wings, the heavyweight division is hotting up to what would be its highest temperature in a generation after years in the doldrums.
If the main players get their acts together and start fighting each other boxing fans could be in for some classic heavyweight battles