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THANKS to Anthony Joshua, and a boom time in the British heavyweight division, promoter Eddie Hearn has become synonymous with big, financially-rewarding heavyweight fights.
However, not every heavyweight blockbuster this year will be blessed by Hearn’s Midas touch. The proposed WBC world heavyweight title clash between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, for example, is one that belongs to others, which means Hearn, like the rest of us, waits – and waits and waits – for an announcement of a date (now rumoured to be December 1) with bated breath.
Well, to an extent. Hearn, after all, has a project of his own on the go: next Saturday (September 22), Anthony Joshua, the WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion, defends his belts against Alexander Povetkin, a former WBA champion from Russia, at Wembley Stadium. That fight is many things. It’s an important one; a tougher assignment for Joshua than many assume. It will make substantial amounts of money. It will be broadcast all around the world (on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK, and on DAZN in the US). It will also further enhance the AJ brand.
What it isn’t, however, is Wilder vs. Fury.
“I’m still not sure it (Wilder vs. Fury) happens,” Hearn told Boxing News. “Of Fury’s last four fights, he’s got a fifty-fifty record of turning up, and I would say there’s a fifty-fifty chance he fights Wilder.
“What this delay does is gives you the doubt. If they would have had those two in the ring (in Belfast on August 18) and then the next day released ticket details, you’d have been able to get excited and look forward to it.
“Now, it doesn’t matter when they announce it. Even if they finally announce it next week, people will say, ‘Why has it taken this long?’ They’ll then say, ‘Why are you announcing it the same week as Joshua vs. Povetkin?’ There will be doubt and people will wonder whether it’s just a publicity stunt.”
Much of what makes Wilder vs. Fury so fascinating is also what makes it tough to take seriously. The two men involved, for instance, larger-than-life characters with the gift of the gab, are as unconventional outside the ring – and presumably at the negotiating table – as they are inside the ring throwing punches. What’s more, the pair’s cavalier, troublemaking spirit, the very thing that separates them from the likes of Joshua and Povetkin, might end up being the reason why negotiations break down and the whole plan gets scrapped. Who knows?
All Eddie Hearn know is this: if Wilder vs. Fury was his baby, it would be cared for very differently.
“The problem is, they’re so desperate to try and build some kind of momentum against Joshua, and us, that they’re losing sight of everything,” he said.
“I’m sure they had a template of a deal in place but then the question would have been, ‘Should we do it?’ The answer was probably, ‘Yeah, let’s just do it.’
‘But we haven’t got a date.’
‘Don’t worry about it. Let’s just get them in the ring.’
“You would never do what they did and not announce the date within 42 or 78 hours. So, there might be a problem, or they might be pathetic enough to try and announce it next week. If this was my fight, I’d be trying to sell it as the fight of the heavyweight division. I’d be saying, ‘F**k Anthony Joshua and his next fight.’ But the problem is, everything they are doing is based around Anthony Joshua.”
Should Wilder vs. Fury eventually get announced, Hearn won’t be able to lay claim to the best heavyweight fight of 2018. He will, however, maintain control of the world’s most important heavyweight, and that, for now, is probably all that matters.