Joshua vs Wilder money: Why the Brit has great leverageWritten by Lee Cleveland
Don't expect the mega heavyweight showdown between champions Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder to happen before September 2018.
Match-up delays persist in boxing for one reason - Not enough public demand. And as long as (mainstream) public demand is weak, the risk will always exceed the reward. Hence, the threat of, and implications for, losing far surpass the compensation.
In the most simplistic terms
Earning $1 Million per fight for facing four "safe" opponents makes more business sense than accepting $1.7 Million for facing one "threatening" foe.
Wilder and the US
Anthony Joshua is a star in England and a guaranteed ticket seller who will earn in excess of $10 Million regardless of who he faces. Wilder, on the other-hand, has yet to earn $2 Million for any fight because he's not a star in the U.S. In fact, neither Joshua nor Wilder have a lot of stock in the States.
Should Joshua vs Wilder happen today, Wilder wouldn't bring a lot to the table. Joshua, conversely, would have his massive fanbase in the UK to fall back on.
So what does all of this mean?
Why should promoter Eddie Hearn and Team Joshua accept a fight with a dangerous champion like Deontay Wilder when they can generate almost as much revenue fighting the Kubrat Pulevs and Fres Oquendos of boxing? And as for Wilder, he'd probably get a small uptick in money for fighting Joshua in the UK but his compensation wouldn't be reflective of the magnitude of the fight.
"I like what Deontay Wilder is doing right now, because I do feel for him, because he is a one-man band commercially. He's doing all of this driving of his profile himself," Hearn explained to BoxingScene.com.
"He's phoning up people to try to get himself heard. That's the job of a promoter and a publicist. He's proactively doing it himself. And he's doing a great job using Anthony's name, and I don't mean this disrespectfully, to grow interest and to raise his own profile. And I believe that his profile is growing."
"I believe that he's becoming more of a star now in the U.S. - which is exactly what we want."
For facing the relatively obscure Carlos Takam, who took that fight on 2 weeks’ notice, in October, Joshua is believed to have received about $13.1 Million (source: Forbes). In contrast, Wilder collected only $1.4 Million (source: Forbes) for the Bermane Stiverne rematch in early November. And Stiverne, a former belt holder, was more credentialed than Takam.
If the American mainstream knew about Deontay Wilder, he'd be a big star in the States.
Not only has the 6'7" Wilder knocked out all 38 of his opponents (he fought Stiverne twice), over 30 of them failed to get past Round 4.
More impressive than Mike Tyson
It's easy to downplay Deontay Wilder's accomplishments in relation to Mike Tyson's. After all, the latter is a legend.
However, Wilder has been more destructive against today's heavyweights than a prime Mike Tyson ever was. On paper and even in highlight reels, Deontay is easily today's 'Mike Tyson.'
Level of exposure, not a vast difference in quality of opposition, is what made a young Mike Tyson so much bigger back then versus Deontay today.
How do the promoters galvanize American interest in Wilder? I can only only speculate.
In August, British UFC star earned $30 Million for facing fight legend Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas. Americans are capable of embracing British fighters. If US embraced Wilder, an American, just a third as much as they embrace Brit McGregor, Joshua vs Wilder would be happening next.
Wilder vs Joshua money
Should they fight in 2018, look for the Brit to earn the lion share of the overall purse, regardless of how much Wilder and Joshua enhance their stock in America.
Bottomline: Wilder needs AJ more than the Brit needs him so Joshua & Co have all of the leverage. And that's ironic because some experts, including myself, think Wilder should the favorite. But it's Joshua, not Wilder, who will be the much larger draw.
Money-wise, how low is Wilder willing to go to make this fight happen? Given he has a lot less to lose than Joshua, Deontay would probably accept the lower end of an 80-20 split.