Lennox Lewis has told Anthony Joshua and Eddie Hearn to up their game in order to secure a future fight with Deontay Wilder.
Hearn has been vocal in the media bemoaning the lack of interest from Wilder since the American rejected negotiations in the summer of 2018.
As WBN followed closely at the time, Wilder was offered an unsignable contract by a champion’s standards. The lack of a rematch clause on his part, and only one for Joshua, was indication enough for the American to severe ties.
Wilder switched his attention to Tyson Fury. The pair then fought out a Fight of the Year contender in Los Angeles.
As talks for a rematch continue, Wilder has ignored any further advances by Hearn and Joshua.
Lewis, opening up on a recent and public disagreement with Hearn, says more should have been done when Wilder was willing to negotiate and had already accepted a flat fee for a UK bout.
“At Joshua’s trajectory, I expected him to face Wilder in 2018. To my disappointment, those negotiations fell through,” said Lewis.
“I’ve placed a lot of the onus on the ‘A-Side’ – Hearn and Joshua for that fight not happening.
“Now I’m not privy to all of the details. And all of the back and forth between the Joshua and Wilder camps. But based on what I’ve heard, my opinion was that Joshua and Hearn needed to step up their game if this fight was going to happen.
“I’ve always said Joshua was the A-Side in a fight with Wilder. And as such, he should be able to name the date and place of their first fight. That being said, Joshua v Wilder is the biggest fight that can be made in the division today. It easily becomes one of the biggest in all of boxing.
“I thought it was ludicrous that Hearn started off by offering Wilder a paycheck for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. Instead of a percentage, especially when you consider that they did a 65/35 split with Joseph Parker for a unification bout.
“It’s disrespectful to the fraternity of boxing, and the gains we have made getting fighters a larger percentage of what they put their lives on the line, and work so hard for.
“Too many past fighters, and champions, never came close to earning their proper piece of the pie. The game has since changed and fighters now have the ability to earn their proper share.
“Let’s not turn back the clock to a time where the negotiators are reaping most of the benefits on the backs of the fighters.”
The former undisputed king obviously feels strongly about Wilder getting a fair offer. Lewis believes some contenders have been short-changed in the past.
“I’m not just making a case for Wilder or Joshua’s purse. I’m making a case for ALL fighters who step in the ring.
“It doesn’t matter who negotiated their contract. At the end of day, the fighters are the only ones who step in the ring. And if things go wrong, are the only ones in the hospital fighting for their lives.
“Fighters work long and hard to put themselves into contention for championship opportunities. Once you become a champion, of course you should reap the benefits.
“There is only so much leverage a contender has in earning a shot at the title. When champions meet, there has to be respect on both sides. For what has been accomplished by each champion.
“Event fights are the super fights. They are the ones that seep into the consciousness of the general public.
“Floyd Mayweather is an astute businessman who knows the value of creating event fights. His bouts with Dela Hoya, Pacquiao and McGregor transcended hardcore boxing fans and brought casual fans out in record numbers.
“In all of those fights, Floyd’s opponents made more money than they EVER had in a single fight during their careers.
“Event fights need two huge names, in their own right to come together and make it something special.
“If you notice, Mayweather’s PPV numbers fell off dramatically for his last fight with Andre Berto because Berto‘s name was just not big enough.
“Hearn’s attempts to simply give Wilder a paycheck seemed a bit ludicrous for a history-making fight between two undefeated champions for the UNDISPUTED heavyweight championship of the world.
“I hate this nonsense argument that a fighter’s previous pay should dictate what they should, or could, earn in a potential event fight.
“People have argued that this would be Wilder’s biggest payday ever so he should just take the flat fee since it was many times more than his previous purses.
“Wilder is the WBC world heavyweight champion. He holds the crown jewel in heavyweight boxing. He’s not a contender. That in itself deserves respect and a split.
“Also keep in mind that this would be Joshua’s highest payday ever too.
“I think, in the event that both Joshua and Wilder are able to remain undefeated and face each other for the undisputed title, that the proper splits should be around 60/40.
“55/45 in Joshua’s favour for the first bout and 60/40 for the winner of the first bout in a rematch,” he added.
📸: Lawrence Lustig / Amanda Westcott