Will former two-time heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua fight Deontay Wilder in a huge money-spinner in the Middle East this December? If so, should AJ box before then, this to avoid entering the ring with Wilder off the back of over eight months of inactivity? Will Wilder take a fight before a Joshua showdown, this to avoid stepping into the ring after an even longer inactive spell of 14 months?
The feeling amongst some people is, the two former champions are sitting it out, waiting for what would be a career-high payday, with neither AJ nor Wilder wanting to risk blowing it by losing a much smaller fight in the meantime.
One man who firmly believes this to be the case as far as Joshua is concerned is Dillian Whyte. Whyte – who rumbled with AJ back in late 2015, with Whyte being stopped in the 7th round of a thrilling battle – has wanted a shot at revenge ever since (the two also met as amateurs and their rivalry is pretty heated and always has been). But, in speaking with Sun Sport, Whyte says Joshua will not fight him in a rematch, as he “doesn’t want to risk his retirement payday.”
Whyte is of course referring to the monster money AJ will pick up if the Wilder fight in Saudi turns out to be the real thing and not just talk.
Whyte, a fighter who is no stranger to being mad as hell about things, is especially angry because prior to his fight with Jermain Franklin, which Whyte won via decision, the word was AJ would fight the winner. Now, Whyte feels AJ will not agree to face him.
“Joshua and his team told everybody ‘the winner of Whyte and Franklin fights AJ’ – and then they boxed the loser,” an irate Whyte said. “Joshua’s team are doing interviews saying he beats me in four rounds. But he can’t decide if I’m his dream opponent or his worst nightmare. I want the fight. I know that DAZN want the fight, too, because it would be an absolutely huge event. The only problem we all have is Joshua. He has confidence issues and is afraid to take the fight. He doesn’t want to risk his retirement payday in Saudi Arabia against Wilder – who is also past his sell-by date.”
It’s easy to understand Whyte’s frustration, yet at the same time, boxing has become more of a business these days. Would it be a smart move on Joshua’s part to risk losing to Whyte, thus blowing a gargantuan payday? On the other hand, fighters should fight, and as David Haye said, if Joshua doesn’t believe he can beat Whyte, then why fight Wilder? One could answer Haye’s question this way: to pick up a massive payday, of course.
But is Joshua merely thinking about the money these days? If so, it’s disappointing. Wilder too should be getting in the ring before December, yet here again comes the risk factor; Wilder would also be rolling the dice on a super-duper payday if he fought a “tune up” prior to getting AJ in December.
The question now has to be asked: are the top fighters paid too much, way too much, and is this the sole reason they almost always box just once a year now? Today, a big-name fighter could retire after just one big fight, so great is the money on offer. How the game has changed.