Heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder is ready to sign a contract to face unified titlist Anthony Joshua for the undisputed championship this fall provided there are what co-manager Shelly Finkel described as "small changes" to the agreement Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing sent him.
"I'm sending him back the contracts with a couple of notes," Finkel told ESPN on Monday. "Hopefully, there is no problem and we'll sign right after the changes are made."
Finkel declined to specify what the Wilder side would like to have changed but he insisted they were "small changes." He also said the contract did not provide a date or site for the fight, though it has been discussed previously that it could take place sometime in October or November at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, where Joshua has drawn sold-out crowds of 78,000 for his past two fights.
Finkel's comments were in response to Hearn's comments earlier Monday to Sky Sports, his broadcast partner in the United Kingdom, in which Hearn questioned whether Wilder truly wanted to fight Joshua.
"We made them an offer firstly, they didn't even reply," Hearn told Sky Sports. "They made us an offer. We asked to see a contract. They refused to send one. We made them another offer; after nearly four weeks they accepted and asked for a contract and we sent them one. If they want the fight they will sign it. I can't quite make out whether people are lying to Deontay about the negotiations or he is just completely deluded. I saw an interview with him (Sunday) saying he is actually two people, Deontay Wilder and the 'Bronze Bomber,' so I'm siding with deluded. It's not complicated. We have set out the terms of the deal, we put it in a contract and sent it to him.
"He has now had the contract a week. There is absolutely zero urgency from Deontay and his team other than posting silly Instagram videos. The proof is in the resumes and at this stage I believe Deontay and his team do not want this fight."
Wilder has steadfastly and vociferously said he wants the fight and his team went so far as to make Joshua a $50 million offer against 50 percent of the revenue of the event to fight in the United States this fall.
"To clear up one other fallacy, Eddie knows that they have a written term sheet from us which details our $50 million offer for Anthony Joshua to fight Deontay Wilder in the U.S.," Finkel said. "We have never received from them a response to this term sheet."
Finkel also said their side wants the fight and has accepted the financial terms Hearn laid out in his counter offer, as well as agreeing to fight Joshua in the United Kingdom, his home country. Hearn's last public offer to Wilder was a flat fee of $15 million, an increase over his previous offer of $12.5 million.
"I want to make it clear that Deontay Wilder wants this fight more than Anthony Joshua does, which is evidenced by the fact that Wilder accepted a flat purse for this fight, which is unheard of for a fight of this magnitude," Finkel said. "He also has accepted to fight Anthony Joshua in the U.K., while Anthony Joshua did not accept a $50 million offer, which Joshua originally asked for, plus a percentage (of the profits) to fight Wilder in the U.S.
"Eddie thinks I dislike him. He is wrong. I just have a difference of opinion with him of what a fact is. When I state something is a fact, I have written proof to back it up. I dare Eddie to do the same."
It is highly unusual for a fighter to accept a flat fee rather than percentage of the revenue for an event that figures to be as massive as Joshua-Wilder. It looms as a nine-figure, worldwide event and one of the two biggest fights in boxing along with the Sept. 15 rematch between unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez. Finkel said their side accepted the terms of the agreement on June 11 and asked Hearn to send a long-form contract.
"This took Matchroom by surprise never thinking that Wilder would accept their below-market offer," Finkel said. "Shortly after, Eddie Hearn went public saying that we would receive a contract by Friday, June 15th, when in fact we did not receive a contract until late on Monday, June 18th. On Tuesday June 19th, we requested a clarification of two points. They did not respond. I requested them again on Thursday, June 21st, and we finally received a response on Friday, June 22nd.
"Two days later, on Sunday, June 24th, I sent them a letter acknowledging Eddie's email of June 22, telling them they would have the contract back by Friday, June 29th. Since the contract did not state the date or the venue, I also asked for that information. These are the facts and Matchroom will have the contracts back to them by Friday, June 29th."
Finkel said it will then be up to Hearn to address the issues he pointed out.
"We don't agree on one of those issues but we will move ahead and if he wants to get it done it will get done," Finkel said. "There's nothing that should prevent this fight from getting done if Joshua and Eddie want to make the fight."
Besides talks with the Wilder camp, Hearn has also been negotiating a possible fall fight for Joshua against Alexander Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs), 38, of Russia, a very dangerous mandatory challenger.
The 28-year-old Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) won a world title in 2016 and has made five defenses, including a 10th-round knockout of former longtime unified world champion Wladimir Klitschko in the consensus 2017 fight of the year and unifying three belts by outpointing Joseph Parker on March 31.
Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs), 32, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, won his belt in 2015 and has made seven title defenses, including scoring a massive 10th-round knockout of then-unbeaten top contender Luis "King Kong" Ortiz in a riveting fight on March 3 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.