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A plot to shut Anthony Joshua out of the major fights in his own division is underway, promoter Eddie Hearn tells Boxing News.
Joshua, the unified WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight champion of the world, was due to fight on April 13 at Wembley stadium in London. That outing has not been cancelled yet, but it is increasingly unlikely to take place.
His promoter Eddie Hearn blames a cabal of rival heavyweights working in unison either to drive up the sum being offered to challenge Joshua, one of the biggest draws in the sport, or even to “freeze” him out of the most significant heavyweight fights. Hearn called it “total collusion”.
He explained, “I see it with Canelo, because now I’m working in that circle. People try and block and people want you to fail. Other promoters, other fighters don’t like Joshua’s position in the marketplace. So there’s this collusion. [They say] ‘That’s the deal, it’s 50-50.’ Someone’s going to be smart enough to say there’s a big money payday for me and I’m getting a shot at the world heavyweight title. Whatever happened to that? Getting a chance to be the king of the division. And you’re not getting paid peanuts by the way. But there is a massive collusion between promoters and managers and heavyweights to try and freeze him out. When you talk about the money that’s on offer, someone’s always going to step up and fight him. I’ve been involved in negotiations this week where I had a meeting with someone and I’d sent an offer to someone else 30 minutes before and when I got to that meeting the person told me what I’d offered the other person. So everyone’s talking… That’s what you’re up against. So it’s not easy. [It’s to] drive up the price or freeze him out.”
Tyson Fury and WBC titlist Deontay Wilder would be the most appealing fights for Joshua. Those seem some way off at present. “I just think it’s disappointing that some people don’t put a value on being number one. It’s got to be about the money and the legacy and at the moment it’s just about the money for some people,” Hearn added.
Hearn actually promotes Dillian Whyte, a bitter rival of Joshua’s who would make sense as a headline fight at Wembley stadium. “I would like to see him take the fight but he has a perception of his value in the fight which is not in accordance with Anthony’s perception of Dillian’s value. It’s frustrating because I want to deliver Dillian a world title shot,” Eddie said. “But again I think he thinks that he’s a guy who thinks he should be on 60-40, 50-50. He sees himself as a Fury and Wilder. He’s not there yet but he believes he’ll get there so I think he’s trying to back himself that he’ll go in and he’ll fight [Alexander] Povetkin or [Luis] Ortiz and his stock will rise again, which it will, but at what point do you grab it and say this is my chance to be the king of the division. You beat AJ and you’re the king of the division,” Hearn said.
“I think [Whyte] is a little bit upset that DAZN didn’t pick up his fight so it went on Showtime. I think a lot of his conversations are based around a US TV partner. I think that he knows that AJ is our priority. But we had a meeting on Monday. He explained that he’s a million percent with us [Matchroom] and he explained that [he could fight in] April if it’s not Joshua, and if it is Joshua is could be April or May or June. We’re fine. He’s always got that little bit of bite.
“We’ve done a great job of taking him from six rounders on non-TV shows to pay-per-view so he’s in a good place.”
The April 13 show at Wembley stadium therefore is “not dead but it’s unlikely now”. Matchroom expect to make a final decision on that event by the end of this weekend. If Joshua doesn’t fight Whyte, American Jarrell Miller would be the fallback options. Negotiations on that front are on going. He could potentially fight Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden in June
In terms of pay-per-view events, Hearn explains, “Dillian Whyte is a pay per view fighter now. If he doesn’t fight Joshua, he’ll go in April… But there’s only one Box Office fighter who could fight anybody. The others have got to be in proper fights with real strong undercards. It’s always been the way.
“We’ll have one in April if Joshua goes to America, one in June.”