Eddie Hearn has admitted that he is "relieved & shocked" that former two-time unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has finally got his date with Dillian Whyte signed, sealed and announced for August 12th at the O2 Arena in London. The pair famously fought each other back in 2015, with Joshua coming out on top with a stoppage victory in an enthralling and highly charged British heavyweight title affair.
Matchroom Boxing formally confirmed yesterday (July 6th) that Joshua will indeed rematch his domestic rival after a period of negotiations following an initial offer to Whyte, which Whyte thought was unsatisfactory. The sticking point was predominantly a rematch clause which Whyte objected to having forced upon him. However, that clause has since been removed.
Hearn, when speaking to IFL TV, stated that "I am relieved, i am shocked, but i am a little worried, but i still can't believe the fight is actually happening for a number of different reasons.
"Firstly, the Deontay Wilder fight is locked in for December. He (Joshua) does not need a fight like this (against Whyte). He does not even need to fight, in all honesty, as the money is so big for the Wilder fight.
"Dillian Whyte did not like the deal, and if you had told me two-three weeks ago that Dillian Whyte would sign this contract, i would have bet absolutely everything on him not signing this contract (to fight Joshua). It was like a game of bluff. Dillian Whyte has looked around and thinks the money isn't right, but i know i can beat him, and if I beat him, i can fight Deontay Wilder for a fortune.
Hearn says that the only name Joshua wanted to face was his career-long rival, Whyte, and a rematch clause Hearn inserted in the contract to be removed.
"AJ kept asking what about Whyte, and i told him that he (Whyte) wasn't sure the money was right. Then we had the issue with the rematch clause. AJ knows nothing about rematch clauses, i put that rematch clause in because he (AJ) is on the A side, he has got a massive fight with Deontay Wilder, and he is putting a lot of risk on the line here. AJ turned around to me and said, i dont need a rematch clause. Take it out. We sent it back to Whyte (without the clause), and Dillian Whyte has signed it. It goes back to AJ, and he has signed it and now i am thinking, "oh my god".
"The Saudis are going mad (that he has signed to fight Whyte). Shelly Finkel is saying what is this about? (that AJ signed to fight Whyte). Both fighters are just rolling the dice. This fight is massive and show me a bigger fight in British boxing outside of AJ & Fury. Eubank Jr & Benn, and that is the only fight i can come up with that is even close to a fight of this magnitude. AJ is absolutely buzzing for this fight, buzzing."
Hearn continues to add that if Whyte defeats Joshua on August 12th, the offer to fight Wilder in December will be "off the table" and that the fight with Whyte gives AJ the opportunity to get the bit between his teeth because he has an opponent that motivates him.
"The Saudis have made it clear that if AJ loses to Whyte, then the offer to fight Wilder is off the table. I am not saying the fight is dead forever, but the offer that you have (AJ) is off the table. Just saying that makes me sweat a little bit. Isn't that fucking great? AJ has basically gone i do not want to fight Wallin, Kabayel or whoever, as he aint up for it but wants to fight Dillain Whyte. He wants a tear-up with Dillian Whyte at the 02. All those other things like the confidence, mind games, anger and the temper that came in their first fight are returning.
"The first fight was carnage. Maybe he (AJ) wants that, and if he loses, he might think maybe i don't deserve a fight with Wilder. I love how Dillian Whyte has gone basically and said the money aint right but fuck it, i beat him, and i will get the Wilder fight. It is like a game of bluff turned into balls on the line turned into let's dance in the lion's den."
Hearn adds that he expects the Joshua-Whyte pay-per-view sales to be roughly in the region from anywhere starting at 500 thousand and up to around 850 thousand buys.