Tuesday’s “special announcement” from WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) was, well, not much of a jaw-dropper.
We knew that with the Tyson Fury rematch nixed after Fury’s shock move to ESPN, Wilder was going to face WBC mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale (20-1, 18 KOs) on May 18th at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. The question was essentially his choice of network for the bout, and it turns out that Wilder is staying on the PBC side of the aisle.
The good news is that Wilder vs. Breazeale, which to be brutally honest shouldn’t resemble a very competitive fight, will not be on Showtime PPV as initially reported/feared. Evidently Showtime found room in its budget to have this bout air on regular Showtime, so rest assured there won’t be extra money coughed up for this one.
Wilder and Breazeale do have a history of confrontation with each other. A hotel scuffle from two years ago following Wilder’s win over Gerald Washington has pretty much laid the groundwork for this to be called a “grudge match.” Breazeale is coming off a win over Carlos Negron last December, and his only loss was a lopsided TKO as a title challenger vs. Anthony Joshua in 2017.
What’s the actual major story here is Wilder’s decision to turn down a strong push from DAZN to bring him on board for a unification bout with Joshua, who holds the WBO, WBA, and IBF titles. According to ESPN’s Dan Rafael, there were two options presented by DAZN’s John Skipper that would’ve meant a pair of bouts for Joshua worth $40 million each.
DAZN offered Wilder two versions of a deal from which he could pick, two sources with knowledge of the offers told ESPN.
One deal, the sources said, was for three fights worth $100 million. The first fight would have been a $20 million payday to fight Breazeale this spring, which is way over the market value for that level fight. Wilder was guaranteed $10 million to fight Fury in their exciting draw on Showtime PPV on Dec. 1. The second fight would have been for $40 million to fight Joshua in the fall for the undisputed title with the third fight being an immediate rematch with Joshua for another $40 million -- even if Wilder, in the worst-case scenario, had gotten knocked out, even in the first round, of the first fight by Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), 29, of England.
The second version of the offer, one of the sources said, would have paid Wilder $20 million to fight Breazeale, $40 million for the Joshua fight, a $20 million fight against another opponent to be determined followed by another $40 million for a rematch with Joshua in the fourth fight.
In addition, one of the sources said the first fight with Joshua was guaranteed to be in the United States with DAZN willing to have the second fight in Joshua’s native United Kingdom, even though the time zone would put a live stream of the fight on in the late afternoon instead of closer to the preferred time of 11:30 p.m. ET, which is when most major fights go off for U.S. broadcasts.
Wilder explained his reasoning for rejecting DAZN, having also rejected a more long-term offer from Top Rank Boxing that included a Fury rematch, albeit with more fights overall in the contract.
“The thing about having freedom is that it allows you to dictate your career,” Wilder said (via PBC). “When you sign with people, now they’re in control. We’ve seen many fighters get into situations with promoters and get put on the shelf. They have families they need to feed but they aren’t in control. You don’t want to be tied up for a long time.”
He also addressed the fact that DAZN’s visibility isn’t on the same level as Showtime.
“The more eyeballs, the better, especially because I give you your money’s worth. I’m the people’s champion. Some fail to realize that we have our own money, our own networks with a big audience, and a big stable of heavyweights. They always saying I’m stuck, what is my next move, but the question is, what are these other guys going to do? I’ve got a lot of options here with heavyweights at PBC.”
So just as boxing fans wanted, we are going to have Deontay Wilder fighting Dominic Breazeale, Anthony Joshua fighting Jarrell Miller, and Tyson Fury fighting TBA all on separate networks in the span of about a month. The odds of any of them fighting each other in 2019 seem remote.
It’s just one of the many drawbacks of following this circus sport.