American Deontay Wilder has been offered a fortune to sign for streaming network DAZN
But so deep is the WBC champion’s suspicion that the multi-belted Joshua will again fail to come to terms that he has lined up a back-up opponent this winter.
Wilder is set to make announcements about his future next Tuesday, following the sudden collapse of his projected rematch with Tyson Fury.
Wilder looked set for a rerun of his December classic against Tyson Fury until talks fell through
Wilder is eyeing a fight with Anthony Joshua for the undisputed world heavyweight title
The American knockout artist is expected to confirm a mid-May defence of his world title against mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale.
He is also likely to approve a DAZN deal worth $80m for two fights but rising to $100m if that includes the unification match with Joshua.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn says that makes the Wilder fight finally likely to happen but given the past breakdowns in negotiations the Bronze Bomber has put the undefeated Brooklyn-based Polish heavyweight Adam Kownacki on standby.
The injection of huge amounts of new TV money into big-time boxing has shifted the focus from Wilder and Fury reprising their dramatic December draw.
The Gypsy King’s £80m contract with the ESPN network in the US prevents him following through with that immediate rematch. He will fight an alternative opponent in May or June.
The WBC heavyweight champion will face his compatriot Dominic Breazeale in his next fight
With DAZN already televising Joshua’s fights in America – including the June 1 clash with New York’s Jarrell Miller in Madison Square Garden – their move for Wilder revives hopes that they will fight each other at the end of this year.
However, Kownacki’s promoter Keith Connolly tells Sky Sports: ‘We have spoken with Wilder’s promoter Al Haymon and the thinking is that Adam has one more fight to be ready for a world title fight in December. It all depends on what happens with Joshua but that’s the plan.’
Wilder has repeatedly accused Joshua of ducking him by making ‘low-ball’ offers and expressed doubts that the fight could ever be made. And although Hearn has been instrumental in launching DAZN in America he has been excluded from the talks involving Wilder and his co-manager Shelly Finkel.
So quickly is the sand moving under feet that Fury, having claimed prime position with his heroics against Wilder, is in danger of being usurped by Joshua. There are suggestions that Wilder is most likely to take the $80ms for fights against Breazeale and Kownacki, confident that he can negotiate much more than an extra $20m for a showdown with Joshua.
Joshua, meanwhile, takes on American Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller in New York on June 1