Boxing’s favorite pariah now looks like the smartest man in the room.
Deontay Wilder stole some of the lukewarm noise from Anthony Joshua’s U.S. debut last week.
The “Bronze Bomber” announced his next two fights last week to quell all speculation on the fate of an eventual matchup with Anthony Joshua.
Turns out his clairvoyance was right on time. Joshua suffered his first loss over the weekend to a relative unknown, Andy Ruiz, Jr.
The seventh round TKO transferred Joshua’s IBF, IBO, WBA, and WBO World Heavyweight Championship titles over to the first ever Mexican Heavyweight champion.
On Tuesday, Wilder first announced that a deal was reached to face Luiz “King Kong” Ortiz in a rematch. The event will land on Showtime Pay-Per-View and is currently targeted for late September at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“I knew none of these major fights were going to happen this year, so why not go ahead and get Ortiz II in there?” Wilder said to The Los Angeles Times.
Later, Wilder confirmed that a deal had been signed, sealed, and delivered for a Tyson Fury rematch in 2020.
Well, As I always say I’m the realest Champion in the business and as I’ve mentioned before I must handle all my Controversial
— Deontay Wilder (@BronzeBomber) May 31, 2019
That Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight still stands as the best selling pay-per-event in history at 4.6 million buys and $400,000,000 in revenue. If history serves itself, Wilder and Fury are looking to conjure that same energy.
The Wilder Strategy
As one of the only Showtime Sports loyalists left, Wilder is breaking his normal one fight deal agreements by revealing his next two fights. However, he still remains untethered by a long term broadcast or streaming partner like Anthony Joshua (DAZN) and Tyson Fury (ESPN).
Still, casual fans and boxing insiders alike were frustrated with the lack of speed in making the Anthony Joshua fight. The winner would become the undisputed heavyweight champion which is traditionally the highest prize in all of boxing.
However, now that Joshua lost to Ruiz, Jr., it can be assumed that Wilder would have easily handled Joshua.
Now, Wilder is in unchartered territory. Most boxers have a promoter and a succinct broadcast or streaming deal. By keeping his options open he can field offers while building his brand to demand more from all wishing to license his fights.
According to multiple reports, DAZN presented the American champion with a 3 or 4 fight deal between $100 million-$120 million. It would have included fights with Joshua.
After Joshua took a chance on Andy Ruiz, Jr., the Wilder vs. Joshua fight now seems irrelevant. If Ruiz defeats Joshua again on their rematch, it makes Wilder and his team seem smart to stay in a fight to fight pattern of dealmaking.
A Pawn Of A Bigger Game
According to sports business newsletter, JohnWall Street, Hearn believes that:
“the decision made [to pass on a DAZN deal] and the advice given [to take the Ortiz fight next] were done with a network or PBC hat on; obviously, it wouldn’t be good news for PBC to lose Wilder to another network or for him to lose (presumably to Joshua).”
Still, with Joshua going on ESPN saying he would like to talk to Wilder face to face and Wilder rebuffing telling the Los Angeles Times that he tried to FaceTime Joshua and was denied, Wilder made what he felt was the best conceivable move.
Ortiz is in the Haymon fold, making for easy negotiations, and gave him problems in their first pairing. The Fury rematch is the other fight most fans want to see and the fact that it is hammered out, barring any losses on Wilder or Fury’s preceding bouts, the deal is done.
When Wilder delivered a devastating first-round KO of Dominic Breazeale it signaled his launch of Bomb Zquad Promotions.
Wilder also has members of the same team that helped Floyd Mayweather, Jr. become one of the only athletes to generate $1 billion over his whole career in Al Haymon and Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza.
Simply put, Wilder is playing the game and not letting the game play him and that makes him one of the smartest men in boxing.