There’s now a huge decision to be made in the grand scheme of the heavyweight division as Anthony Joshua chews over his next move.
Despite Joshua having the upside on almost everything, including no purse split for a fight with Deontay Wilder this year, the Briton has been handed a mandatory way out against Alexander Povetkin.
The World Boxing Association’s decision to give 24 hours for Joshua to arrange the Povetkin is totally shocking, given the fact that the WBA know a deal is close for a fight with Wilder.
Wilder’s team exclusively informing WBN on Monday that their side of paperwork will be sent by the end of the week but it seems the WBA have lost their patience.
A Joshua v Povetkin contest is nowhere near on the level of an encounter with Wilder and it’s basically the WBA’s decision to give an ultimatum for promoter Eddie Hearn to end talks with the American.
Joshua and Hearn should now stand firm and give the fans the fight they want as Povetkin could then fight for the vacant title.
In my opinion, the Wilder undisputed match-up – which could see the rivalry last a year or more – is worth sacrificing a ‘super’ title for.
Standing to make up to nine-figures (in dollars) for a two or three-fight deal with Wilder, Joshua has to decide whether adding to his legacy (if victorious in UK and USA) comes before the WBA strap.
The WBA’s statement released on Tuesday came just a day after Wilder’s team had clarified their intentions to move forward with the fight on Joshua’s terms.
WBA President Gilberto Mendoza said: “Today the WBA requested an answer from Anthony Joshua’s team regarding his fight with the mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin.
“The WBA have allowed over a month extension to negotiations with Povetkin and also ongoing discussions with Deontay Wilder.”
“It appears the Wilder team have not returned the contract for the fight and therefore we are requesting a date for the Joshua v Povetkin fight with immediate effect.”
That date looks set to be September at London’s Wembley Stadium or Cardiff’s Principality, the venue for Joshua’s last two outings.
Shelly Finkel, Wilder’s co-manager and advisor, had originally outlined their next move before the WBA then stepped in to hand Joshua his get-out clause.
Finkel exclusively told WBN on Monday: “First of all, I want to make it clear that Deontay Wilder wants this fight more than Anthony Joshua does. Which is evidenced by the fact that Wilder accepted a flat purse for this fight, which is unheard of for a fight of this magnitude. He also has accepted to fight Anthony Joshua in the UK, while Anthony Joshua did not accept a $50 million-dollar offer (which Joshua originally asked for) plus a percentage to fight Wilder in the U.S.
“Eddie thinks I dislike him. He is wrong. I just have a difference of opinion with him of what a fact is. When I state something is a fact, I have written proof to back it up. I dare Eddie to do the same.
“To clear up one other fallacy, Eddie knows that they have a written term sheet from us which details our $50 million-dollar offer for Anthony Joshua to fight Deontay Wilder in the U.S. We have never received from them a response to this term sheet.
“Below is the correct chronology of where we are with the contract for the Anthony Joshua Deontay Wilder mega fight:
On June 11, 2018, Deontay Wilder accepted Matchroom’s offer to fight Anthony Joshua in the UK, this took Matchroom by surprise never thinking that Wilder would accept their below-market offer.
Shortly after Eddie Hearn went public saying that we would receive a contract by Friday June 15th. When in fact we did not receive a contract until late on Monday June 18th.
On Tuesday June 19th, we requested a clarification of two points. They did not respond.
I requested them again on Thursday June 21st and we finally received a response on Friday June 22nd.
Two days later on Sunday June 24th, I sent them a letter acknowledging Eddie’s email of June 22, telling them they would have the contract back by Friday June 29th.
“Since the contract did not state the date or the venue, I also asked for that information.
“These are the facts and Matchroom will have the contracts back to them by Friday June 29th,” he added.
The whole situation between Joshua and Wilder has been jeopardised by the WBA’s untimely decision and looks increasingly likely that one of the biggest heavyweight fights for some time will be placed on the backburner.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay