Eddie Hearn offers up latest ultimatum to Deontay Wilder for Anthony Joshua fight
Hearn is willing to accept an offer for Joshua to face mandatory opponent Alexander Povetkin
As the soap opera continues to escalate in the public negotiations between unbeaten heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder pertaining to a fall unification bout, Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn has offered the latest ultimatum.
Hearn, of Matchroom Sport, told Sky Sports on Friday that he has upped Wilder's offer for a September fight, and if the American slugger doesn't accept, Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) will seek a fight against mandatory opponent Alexander Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs).
Hearn's father Barry, who founded the promotion, is expected to sit down in New York with Shelly Finkel, the co-manager of Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs), to discuss the deal. The meeting would come five weeks after Finkel and Wilderthat would've given Wilder's team control over the site and promotion.
Povetkin, 38, a former secondary champion who lost a wide decision to former unified heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko in 2013, has been under fire of late for performance-enhancing drug use which pulled him from a 2016 bout against Wilder. But the native of Russia rebounded in March by getting up off the canvas to finish David Price to become Joshua's WBA mandatory challenger.
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"I don't like making deadlines because sometimes it gets people's backs up but at some stage soon we have to make a decision," Eddie Hearn said. "We are close to closing a deal with Povetkin with [promoter Andrey] Robinsky and World of Boxing and once the deal is closed, there is no Deontay Wilder.
"They have our offer so they have to accept it or move on. It's not a case of if you don't accept this offer the fight is dead, we will just fight Povetkin and carry on our negotiations to the next one. It has to be the next one, or the one after that. Joshua wants to fight. We've got an opportunity to go in September and Josh is keen to fight in that month and if Wilder wants it, it's there. But I do still believe Wilder will take this offer."
Keeping up with the latest public demands has become a difficult chore ever since Wilder, the WBC champion, rallied to stop Luis Ortiz in March and Joshua unified the remaining three titles by outpointing Joseph Parker weeks later. On Tuesday, the 32-year-old Wilder told Fight Hub TV that the fight will definitely take place in 2018, either September in Joshua's home of England or November in the U.S.
"If they're still serious -- we've been serious this whole way through -- Joshua said he wanted the $50 million and he'd sign tomorrow," Wilder said. "We did exactly what he said and he didn't sign so that shows you his character already or his team's character.
"I think Joshua wants to fight but I don't think his team want to risk what they've invested. Their investment is about to go and they know it."
Two days later, Wilder posted a video on social media in which he teased the idea of moving down in weight. Despite standing at 6-foot-7, Wilder weighed in at just 214 pounds (the cruiserweight limit is 200) against Ortiz.
"I've been thinking about once I unify the heavyweight division, moving down to the cruiserweight division and taking over that division," Wilder said. "I mean there has never been a heavyweight champion ever go down in weight. I mean just for the fun of it, just take over the cruiserweight division while maintaining the heavyweight division."
Hearn, who claims he has a close and "honest" relationship with Povetkin's team, which includes Ryanbinsky and manager Vadim Kornilov, also looks at Povetkin as possibly the toughest challenge of Joshua's career.
"It is a very, very difficult fight, the Povetkin fight," Hearn said. "He has lost once, to Wladimir Klitschko, who did everything he could to try and stop him but couldn't do it. [Povetkin] is an extremely tough man with extremely powerful people behind him and the entire nation behind him who will desperate to beat Anthony Joshua for a world heavyweight title.
"This is a serious fight and in many ways, it's as tough as the Wilder fight."
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