By Scoop Malinowski
Deontay Wilder got some rare press outside the boxing media yesterday at the NASCAR Monster Energy Talladega Geico 500 auto race.
The WBC Heavyweight champion, an Alabama native, was in Talladega on a rare publicity appearance serving as the honorary pace car driver.
Asked by the auto racing media about his potential fight with Anthony Joshua, Wilder said the fight “will definitely happen.”
But Joshua, the reigning WBA/IBF/WBO Heavyweight champion and the A side of the equation, will have to accept the recent offer from Team Wilder of $50,000,000. “If Joshua and his team are smart enough, they’ll take this fight and take it soon,” said Wilder, who failed to mention that his managers Al Haymon and Shelly Finkel have refused to meet with Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn twice last week in New York to discuss details of their offer.
It’s widely understood by astute ring observers that the Wilder camp actually do not want to fight Joshua and their offer was not a serious business maneuver, but a PR bluff to try to convince the media and fans that they are trying to set up a fight with Joshua.
If Team Wilder was truly serious and earnest about making a deal with Joshua, Haymon and Finkel would be meeting in person with Hearn, who was in New York all last week, not cancelling a previously scheduled Thursday meeting and refusing another for Friday.
The reason Wilder can’t and won’t fight Joshua at this time is obvious. Despite a well-managed (wink-wink) 40-0 record with 39 KO’s Wilder is not yet a star, does not have a high media profile and he does not draw large live gates. Wilder’s handlers know a KO loss to Joshua destroys Wilder’s career. So while they are saying all the right things to the media, Team Wilder’s actions are hollow.
It’s just like the Floyd Mayweather business model. Al Haymon knew Mayweather could not beat Manny Pacquiao in 2009, 2010 or 2011. And Haymon and Mayweather knew if they could just bypass Pacquiao, Haymon could manipulate all of Mayweather’s fights for the next several years to be wins. Haymon was able to develop Mayweather into a money making superstar without having to take any risky fights – all of Mayweather’s fights, or “smart business decisions”, looked like boring sparring sessions that were choreographed.
When the head of CBS Sports Les Moonves finally forced Mayweather to fight Pacquiao in 2015, it was because Mayweather’s fights – or sparring sessions – were no longer generating sufficient profits for Showtime network.
So Haymon believes he can manufacture Wilder into his next big franchise star, by not matching him in any risky fights, just like the Mayweather scam. Eventually, Haymon’s scheme will build Wilder to 50-0 and my theory is he will manipulate Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza to sign Wilder to a long term multi fight contract. This is the boxing business model in America now, as utilized with Mayweather and previously Roy Jones Jr. It’s about creating a star and then protecting that star with all low-risk or NO-RISK fights, if you catch my drift.
Mayweather was so cocky because he knew he was protected, even boasting to the media “God won’t let me lose.” Of course, Mayweather had such self-assurance because every one of his handpicked opponents knew the deal. Floyd is the cash cow and I’m just here for the nice payday. When serious, dangerous, deserving, high risk opponents challenged Mayweather to a fight they were ducked and dodged – Antonio Margarito, prime Miguel Cotto, Winky Wright, Sergio Martinez, Gennady Golovkin at 154, Paul Williams, Kostya Tszyu, Vivian Harris.
Wilder knows he’s protected. But he has to play along with the charade that he wants Joshua and he has to keep saying the fight “will definitely happen.” But the plan is that it never happens, or at least not for another 5-8 years. Because, don’t forget, Haymon and Mayweather proved a boxer can earn jackpots of millions by avoiding the biggest fights and only fighting handpicked patsies.
The NASCAR media got played for fools yesterday in Talladega by a heavyweight fraud. But they’d only know it if they were regular readers to www.ringobserver.com.
By the way, the winner of the Geico 500 was Joey Logano in the No. 9 Ford.