By: Sean Crose
Those looking to see a heavyweight throwdown between former supersize champions Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder might not want to hold their breath. Although the idea of the two heavy hitters getting it on in the ring is certainly appealing to fans, there’s no escaping the fact that modern boxing can be a bureaucratic spider web. Sure, 2023 has been a banner year for the sport – one well worth celebrating, no doubt – but major bouts remain challenging to make. And Joshua-Wilder is nothing if not a major bout. “It’s slow,” Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn told DAZN of the ongoing talks. “I won’t lie.”
Still, the Matchroom honcho came across as remaining relatively confident. “Obviously it’s a massive fight and these things take time,” said Hearn. “Everything is kind of agreed other than the signing of the paperwork. We know that takes time, especially in that part of the world.” By that part of the world, Hearn was referring to Saudi Arabia, where the fight would – at least as things stand – likely take place. Hearn may be patient, but he also made it clear that Joshua wants back in the ring sooner rather than later.
“For me the biggest concern,” Hearn said, “is AJ wants to fight in December or January, we know the Wilder fight is not going to happen in December so we’re happy to wait until January, but if that fight starts pushing back to February or March, don’t be surprised if he still signs for that fight but has another one in between. He’s loving the activity at the moment.
The heavyweight division is, sadly, a mess at the present time. With Oleksandr Usyk holding three of the four major titles, the desire for an undisputed heavyweight champion is great. Yet WBC and lineal titlist Tyson Fury is currently set to battle former UFC heavyweight kingpin Francis Ngannou. Suffice it to say Ngannou has never fought in a professional boxing match before. As the old saying goes, money talks, and Fury-Ngannou will no doubt bring in quite a bit of money. Joshua however, aims to keep moving forward.
“He’s loving being in training camp,” said Hearn. “He’s loving working with Derrick James. But our full focus is to sign the Deontay Wilder fight. I’m not disappointed but we want to get it done. The conversations have to extend to Usyk and Fury, they could be on the same card – who knows? So there’s a lot of conversations to be had. I truly believe that Wilder is up for and ready for this fight. We’re in a good place.”