Deontay Wilder is on the precipice of greatness.
Not because he is lacing up to rematch Luis “King Kong” Ortiz this Saturday in Las Vegas. In fact, the fight on paper is a snoozer due to Wilder (41-0-1) having already KO’d the Cuban-American slugger back in March 2018.
However, with the heavyweight division experiencing a slow and arduous rebuild over these last few years, Wilder is leading the pack in an albeit understated way.
His fight against Tyson Fury should have made him an even bigger star but instead it did that for Fury. The “Gypsy King” signed with U.S. based promoter Top Rank and ESPN for reportedly over $100 million immediately after his draw with Wilder in December 2018.
Fury also is now in the pro wrestling world having faced Braun Strowman in the WWE and has already promised UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic a fight.
However, as the world debates whether Anthony Joshua will avenge the lone blemish on his record in a rematch against Andy Ruiz next month, has Wilder made the right moves in his career?
To Be DAZN’d or Black-Owned?
When streaming service DAZN entered combat sports, they threw around money like water and everyone has seemed to drink it down thirstily.
The headlines that reverberated from Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s almost $400 million deal were outsized and it was the lightning rod the company needed for legitimacy. Since then, Anthony Joshua, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, and Daniel Jacobs are all in changing the landscape of boxing considerably.
Still, Al Haymon remains the unseen godfather of pugilism. With Haymon’s healthy stable of fighters, his Premier Boxing Champions brand, and its respective broadcast partners in FOX Sports and Showtime, Wilder stayed with his advisor.
Reportedly still making $10 million a fight while others like Joshua and GGG have guarantees of $100 million, the question must be asked if Wilder at 33-years old is making the right decision?
Earlier this year DAZN CEO John Skipper tried to sign Wilder to a four-fight deal worth $120 million. The four fights would have included two fights against then-champion Anthony Joshua.
Haymon famously orchestrated the deals that made Floyd Mayweather the wealthiest athlete to ever box. Now his company Mayweather Promotions is co-promoting this weekend’s event. Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe applauded Wilder for his decision to turn down over $100 million guaranteed with DAZN. As one of the architects of the Mayweather machine, his perspective is certainly valid.
“I told Deontay Wilder this when I saw him last week. I congratulated him and applauded him for not taking the DAZN deal,” said Ellerbe to BoxingScene.com. “That was the smartest move he has made in his entire career. He would have had a ceiling on the success that he could have on his events. There would have been a ceiling there on what he could make.”
With Wilder’s fight versus Ortiz on FOX PPV, Wilder can potentially make a killing if the fight sells well domestically and internationally. However, with Ortiz being a lackluster opponent, this might not be the fight that financially heads him the way of the Mayweather group.
Still, with a recognizable brand and the ability to drum up interest, with the right opponent, Wilder could utilize his “freedom” to achieve financial greatness. 2020 might be the year to do it and as a heavyweight that at best has 5-6 more years to maximize his earnings, only time will tell if betting on himself or DAZN’s guarantee was the best move.