By Scoop Malinowski
Al Haymon, Shelly Finkel and Deontay Wilder never had any intention of fighting Anthony Joshua in a heavyweight unification fight this year.
For many reasons, Wilder isn’t ready. He’s not talented enough, he’s not confident enough, his handlers aren’t confident enough to take the risk, and at 32 he’s still not even remotely close to being a sellable star which means a KO loss to Joshua ends all hopes of becoming a major money maker.
So Team Wilder have done a good job of deceiving and smoke and mirroring their way to this point we are at now – the point where the fight is about to collapse and Joshua will sign to fight Povetkin next and Wilder will fight Dominic Breazeale.
The entire exercise was not all for nothing though. Wilder gains in that his name was in the press for three months, linked to the world heavyweight champ Joshua. Wilder needs of all the press attention he can get and now his profile has been raised a bit. Now a few more people know Wilder and view Wilder as a boxer who has a big future fight with that British guy named Joshua.
It remains to be seen how much Wilder’s profile is raised in America and if he can start selling tickets and generating buzz and hype outside of the small niche boxing realm.
By pretending to want to fight Joshua for three months was the best way for Wilder to try to elevate his profile. His body of work of 40 fights hasn’t done it. Curiously, Wilder is 40-0 with 39 knockouts but has no endorsements and no TV networks trying to sign him to a guaranteed long term contract, like Mike Tyson was able to do with both HBO and later Showtime.
Everybody knows the Joshua vs Wilder fight is not prime time yet because Wilder has to become a bigger star first. For a hypothetical, even if Wilder were to beat Joshua this summer in Europe (as near impossible as that is to imagine), Wilder would probably still not get much attention or glory from the US media for such an achievement because he is not taken seriously by anyone. The fight is simply not ready and needs to marinate.
And that’s the problem for Wilder. He’s still unknown in the US outside of Alabama. Whether it’s because there is a whiff of his entire career being a sham fix or because the American media and public are aloof on boxing since the boring, suspect reign of Mayweather.
Whatever the future, one thing remains certain. Haymon and Finkel will continue to try to raise the profile of Wilder. They will do just about anything to achieve that end. Because if they can, there is a hundreds of millions at stake if Wilder can score a fight with Joshua in about four or five years.
If the Joshua vs Wilder production can be developed and organized carefully and properly, it has the potential to be a bigger money fight than Pacquiao vs. Mayweather.