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Eddie Hearn: Wilder-Joshua situation is ‘bulls*** for the sport of boxing’

Eddie Hearn speaks on the current status of the Deontay Wilder-Anthony Joshua undisputed heavyweight title fight.

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Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

While in Las Vegas to promote this Saturday’s Canelo Alvarez-Daniel Jacobs fight on DAZN, Eddie Hearn has been a busy man. He finalized a fight for June 1 between Anthony Joshua and late notice opponent Andy Ruiz Jr, and there’s plenty more on his plate, too.

But he sat with the media and discussed plenty of what’s going on in boxing, including the situation at heavyweight, and namely the issues getting a fight done between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder.

On the situation at heavyweight, particularly with the top stars

“Wilder hasn’t got a network deal and nor has Joshua. It’s likely Joshua will sign a long-term deal with DAZN, it’s likely that Wilder will do the same with Showtime. That’s when you have to come together. I will not allow Joshua to sign a network deal that will prevent him from taking an undisputed fight.

“I think the only person right now who’s signed a network deal that will prevent him fighting on other networks is Tyson Fury. But he doesn’t really care. He’s won the world heavyweight championship. If you said to Tyson, like, ‘Do you want to be the undisputed champion?’ Yeah, he does, but he also wants to make as much money as possible. That’s why he’s making a lot of money fighting Tom Schwarz, and turned down an ordered fight with Deontay Wilder. You have to practice what you preach in that respect.”

On Shelly Finkel recently saying they’ll revisit Joshua-Wilder in a year

“Here is a guy (in Wilder) that for years and years and years has said, ‘One face, one name, one champion. All I want is one heavyweight world champion, all I want is this.’ And you let (Finkel) come out and say, ‘Nah, we’ve got plans, we’ll talk about that in a year’s time.’ A year’s time?

“I can’t understand. If you’re Deontay Wilder, why would you not fight Anthony Joshua for double, triple the money you’re making anywhere else? It’s there for him. That’s like Tevin (Farmer) turning down a fight for three or four times what he’s making at the moment to be the undisputed champion. It wouldn’t happen. So why is this happening?”

On Team Wilder perhaps just stirring the pot

“I know he’s not, because I know that (Luis) Ortiz has already been promised the Wilder fight. I know that (Adam) Kownacki has already been promised the Wilder fight. We’re not just talking about 2020, we might be talking about 2021 when Wilder is available. It’s bullshit for the sport of boxing, it really is.

“And it’s annoying, because certain people without the brain capacity to understand what is happening presume that Anthony Joshua doesn’t want to fight Deontay Wilder. You couldn’t be more wrong. You could not be more wrong. This guy will fight anybody, anybody. And he was ready to fight Wilder a year ago, and he’ll be ready to fight him in two years if he has to. But why can’t we make it next? After Ruiz, after Breazeale, why can we not make that fight next? I don’t understand.”

On whether or not Wilder is avoiding Joshua

“Then take control of your own career. He talks about, ‘Ah, these promoters don’t let you do this, and you’ve got to be in control of your own career.’ If you want the fight, take control of your own career. Have the balls to step up and say, ‘Guys, I really appreciate everything you’re doing for me, but I want Anthony Joshua, I want the undisputed fight.’ Don’t let people talk you into, ‘Oh, no, have another fight there, that’s good’ — make the fight the fans want to see. We can’t make it any more plain and obvious.

“So whether Shelly’s trying to stir the pot, I don’t think he is, because I know behind the scenes all these other guys have been offered the shot. When we were speaking to Kownacki about taking the Joshua fight (on June 1), ‘No, I’m fighting Wilder.’ What do you mean you’re fighting Wilder? ‘I’ve been told that fight is done. He’s gonna fight Ortiz, then he’s gonna fight me.’ And we’re sitting here like, what? So you want to fight a guy you’ve already beaten and Adam Kownacki before you wanna start thinking about the undisputed fight? The biggest fight in boxing, bar none. There’s nothing bigger.”

On getting more unity and less division in boxing

“It’s very difficult. We have to crush the egos. Boxing is a business that really makes you bitter and horrible, over a certain period of time. Luckily, I’m not there yet. One day, I will be. I’ll be sitting there with my voodoo dolls and things like that, right. Right now all I want to do is make great fights. It doesn’t mean I don’t have an ego, of course I do, you guys know that.

“But the one thing I like about Bob Arum, is that you could call him every name under the sun, you could vocally abuse him for 24 hours to his face, he’ll still call you that night and make a deal on a fight. Sometimes I think other people don’t really do that. I think the Shelly Finkel situation — we didn’t see eye-to-eye, so he’s decided, ‘I’m not going to do the best for my client. Just because Eddie Hearn called me Shirley Winkel, so I’m not gonna do a deal with him now.’ How ridiculous is that?

“But I’m learning about the American sense of humor. I’ve got to tone it down a bit. We have this thing called banter in the UK, like, I thought ‘Shirley Winkel’ was hilarious. Everyone phoned me up saying, ‘This is so funny.’ Apparently reporters were phoning him up and saying, ‘Hey, Shirley Winkel,’ and he’d go absolutely mad. But, like, how can you not laugh about that?

“People see it as disrespect, I don’t, I just see it as a bit of fun. But isn’t that great, that you can have the back-and-forth between promoters — that’s part of the sport. It’s like Shakespeare said, ‘All the world’s a stage.’ That’s all we are, we’re all actors in this crazy game of boxing. So back-and-forth is good, but when they start taking it personally and stopping their clients from earning money — can you imagine Lou DiBella turn around and went, ‘No, I’m not making that fight because I don’t like him’? What’s that got to do with it? Fuck that, make the fight. ‘No, he called me Shirley Winkel, I’m not making the fight!’”

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