Eddie Hearn believes Deontay Wilder has already agreed terms for a date in December with Anthony Joshua.
There exists interest in Saudi Arabia to stage a fight between the world’s third and fourth best heavyweights – Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk are considered first and second – and while negotiations are continuing with Hearn and Joshua, the promoter believes that the fight is already 50 per cent complete.
“It’s Saudi dealing direct with Deontay Wilder, and with me,” he told ProBox TV. “So not me trying to do a deal with Deontay Wilder and this and that. I don’t know where they’re up to with that but I would think they may have that deal done. They don’t have our deal done.
“He’s been out there, Wilder – he was there for the Jake Paul fight. They’ve been talking all the time – he’s never had a massive payday like ‘AJ’ has. They know what AJ made to fight Andy Ruiz; to fight [Oleksandr] Usyk, in Saudi, so they know the levels that we need to talk about. If they want it to happen, I think it’ll happen.
“We may look at Dillian; we may look at another opponent. It’ll [hopefully] be the fight Derrick James and AJ say, ‘We need this fight to prepare for Wilder’. But that is why I want to get that fight signed and agreed before we make our decision about August.”
Joshua has never been less convincing than he was when outpointing Jermaine Franklin in April. In his first fight under his new trainer Derrick James he fought tentatively and with little confidence, but Hearn believes that not only can the prospect of fighting Wilder – a long-term rival – revive Joshua’s career and conviction, but that the increased caution he is exercising can prove the key to victory over the most dangerous puncher in the world.
“Every challenge like that – the Wilder fight would be excitement,” said Hearn. “Would be fear. From our point of view but even for the fighter – he knows how dangerous Deontay Wilder is. I think he’ll love it. That’s what he’s all about. He doesn’t want to fight Jermaine Franklin for the rest of his career. But that fight – you lose to Jermaine Franklin, your career’s over. I think it was just a very safety-first performance to make sure he won and moved on. He hadn’t won for two years before that fight.
“I think he’s technically much better than he’s ever been. He needs to be more aggressive, and I think that comes with confidence. But also, you have to fight Wilder in a certain style. If he boxes Deontay Wilder, he boxes his head off. If he gets hit by Deontay Wilder – or vice versa – the fight’s over.