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Deontay Wilder agrees to terms for undisputed heavyweight title fight vs. Anthony Joshua

It’s not official just yet, but it now looks as if we will see heavyweight boxing champions Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua square off later this year.

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Boxing: Wilder vs Arreola Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

An undisputed heavyweight championship bout between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder is closer than ever to becoming reality.

After concerns about the choice of location — with Joshua and his team wanting the fight to be held in the United Kingdom and not the United States — it looks as if Wilder has agreed to an offer by Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn, and that putting pen to paper is the last step of what has been a publicly contentious negotiating period.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael has the details:

Deontay Wilder has accepted the terms offered to him by Anthony Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn for them to meet in the United Kingdom for the undisputed heavyweight championship this fall, Shelly Finkel, Wilder’s co-manager, told ESPN on Monday night. “We have agreed to the terms that Eddie has put out to us for a fight in the U.K.. Deontay has accepted his terms to fight in the U.K. Deontay sent an email to Joshua (Sunday) night and I sent one today to Barry Hearn and Eddie telling them that we officially accept the offer to fight under the terms they gave us and to send us the contract,” Finkel said. Finkel said that the offer is a two-fight deal with terms also agreed to for a rematch that would take place in the United States.

Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) has been the WBC heavyweight champion since beating Bermane Stiverne in early 2015. Much has been made about the lack of quality opponents “The Bronze Bomber” as faced in his title defenses, but he made a major statement in March with a thrilling knockout win over Luis Ortiz, by far the highest caliber of opponent he’s beaten. Ortiz had Wilder hurt and just about out on his feet midway through the bout, only for Wilder to battle back and put the Cuban away in the 10th round of a pulsating contest.

Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) also fought in March, winning a rather dull and ugly unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Joseph Parker, which netted him Parker’s WBO title in addition to the WBA and IBF belts the Englishman already possesses. He’s one of the biggest draws in combat sports, having sold two PPVs of more than 1 million buys in the United Kingdom, and drawn in a combined 240,000 fans to attend his events in person over the last three bouts. A fight with Wilder would be for the “undisputed” crown, meaning the winner would have all the major belts.

Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing originally offered Wilder a $12.5 million purse with no pay-per-view upside, which would be a career-high for Wilder but also decidedly low given how well this fight could/should draw. Wilder’s team soon counteroffered with an incredible $50 million purse for Joshua against 50 percent of the total event revenue, meaning Joshua stood to make even more money if it was hugely profitable. The one sticking point was the fact that Wilder’s team had the right to choose the location, which would’ve likely placed the fight in the United States. According to Hearn, Joshua preferred to fight in front of his home fans, hence he was willing to turn down the $50 million.

According to Hearn, a bout between Joshua and WBA mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) was “virtually done,” and that facing Wilder would follow in early 2019 in the event they failed to came to an agreement to fight Wilder next. Boxing’s sanctioning bodies normally ease up on “mandatory challenger” obligations whenever a unification bout is made.

Speaking to World Boxing News, Wilder’s co-manager Shelly Finkel said that that offer to Joshua is still on the table in case the current one that’s been accepted ends up falling apart.

“If for any reason Anthony changes his mind and wants to fight in the U.S, the $50m offer we have made to him is still there. It’s now in Joshua’s court.”

“They gave us an offer, we were hoping they’d accept the U.S offer instead because there’s so much money but instead since they haven’t we’ve decided that if you don’t want $50m then we’re willing to come the UK and take your offer.”

Finkel also added that the fight would happen in either September or October. By Hearn’s own admission, September doesn’t seem like a good date, as Canelo Alvarez’s return would affect pay-per-view business for Joshua vs. Wilder.

This is not a done deal just yet, but this is by far the most encouraging news we’ve had to date. The ball really is in Joshua’s court, and any scenario where this fight doesn’t get announced shortly will surely be a bad look for Joshua and Hearn.

If all goes well, then we have ourselves quite possibly the biggest combat sports event of 2018 on the horizon.

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