Dillian Whyte has refuted claims by promoter Eddie Hearn that a rematch with Anthony Joshua at Wembley Stadium on April 13 is “close” revealing instead that it is dead in the water from his perspective.
Whyte, ranked No 1 with the WBO and the WBC sanctioning bodies, also claimed that Joshua, holder of the WBO, IBF and WBA heavyweight titles, never really wanted the fight with him.
“It’s clear to me that they have never been serious about making a fight with me for April 13,” Whyte told Telegraph Sport.
“If they were serious, they should have started negotiating sooner and with more realistic terms. The way he is going about business, Joshua won’t be fighting me, Wilder, or Fury any time soon.”
Whyte disclosed the facts as he saw them to Telegraph Sport, clearly unhappy with the treatment from Hearn and Joshua, the timing of negotiations, the lack of equitable financial offers, and insufficient time ahead of the fight being announced for Voluntary Anti Doping Association drug testing, which apparently requires at least 16 weeks to the fight for it to be effective.
Whyte is signed up to 24/7/365 global VADA testing as part of the WBC’s Clean Boxing Programme. In spite of noises from the WBA last year that it would adopt a similar programme, the WBC remains unique amongst the world governing bodies in imposing such rigorous, worldwide testing on its fighters.
Whyte outlined his dismay with what he described as “Hearn and Joshua’s half-hearted attempts” to make the fight, despite Hearn’s promotion of the south London fighter three times last year, helping to make him a cult hero with boxing fans and a pay-per-view fighter.
“They’ve had the (Wembley Stadium) date booked for ages, and have known AJ was available since he beat Alexander Povetkin on 22 September, yet didn’t even make an initial offer until 10 January.
“We could have made this fight if Joshua really wanted it but it has been clear to me all along that they’ve been focused on making the Jarrell Miller fight in New York city on [streaming service] DAZN.”
It is believed that DAZN and its executive chairman John Skipper have been putting pressure on Hearn to bring Joshua to the USA. Hearn has a two-year deal with DAZN, which can extend to eight years, overall worth a reported $1billion (£762m).
Reports have surfaced that Hearn has offered £5million pounds to Whyte, though he would not confirm it on Thursday. Miller is understood to have been offered $6.2million (£4.7m) to fight Joshua on June 1 in New York City which Whyte pointed out “is over 10 times Miller’s record purse”. Telegraph Sport revealed last week that Madison Square Garden has been reserved for June 1.
“Eddie has been trying to make him and Joshua look like they’ve made a serious attempt to make a fight with me for April 13,” Whyte told The Telegraph on Thursday morning “but I know Eddie, have dealt with him for years and he didn’t make a real attempt.
“Eddie is very good at what he does, his hands must be tied or he would have offered me more than 10-15% of what the fight is worth. I’d love to fight AJ but it’s obvious that he doesn’t want it”.
“Let’s be very clear. They have long been cooking a Miller fight for DAZN at Madison Square Garden in the US. I said that before the Dereck Chisora fight (on December 22). In spite of having Wembley booked for April 13 for more than six months and knowing that AJ is available since September 22, they made no approaches or offers to me until 10 January.
“The offer was unacceptable so I rejected it.” On 14 January, Whyte and his team met with Hearn and he “made no effort to negotiate an alternative but accepted that it was too low, saying that it came from AJ and that he had told AJ it was too low. He promised to come back to me with an improved offer.”
On 17 January, Hearn sent a slightly improved offer. “I made it clear that I wanted a percentage split of the show rather than fixed money as this is the normal way that I do business going back to my first fight with AJ and all the other PPVs I’ve been on,” said Whyte. “Additionally, the offer included a rematch clause in AJ’s favour. How can you expect to get the lion’s share on a rematch after losing the fight?”
He continued “I then didn’t hear anything further about the fight other than Eddie’s nonsense on Twitter, until last weekend.”
Hearn made a third offer last Saturday, January 26 with Whyte rejecting it on the basis that he “expected to be offered a fair percentage split of revenues to reflect the significant commercial value that [he] bring[s] to the fight..
“Unfortunately it was too little, too late as April 13 was then only 11 weeks away and Eddie knows I need a decent, 14 week camp for that fight. Once you take a week off for fight week, you’re looking at 10 weeks which is nowhere near enough for a fight of that magnitude,” Whyte added.
“It’s so obvious. Joshua doesn’t want to fight me,” added Whyte. “He wants to go to America and fight Miller. That is easy money. One hundred per cent this was their plan the whole time. He [Joshua] has had two kind of tough fights and Miller is an easy fight. Miller has got no power but does have a good workrate. He is just a big cabbage and Joshua will punch him to bits.”
Whyte told Telegraph Sport that he is likely to box next in the spring. Promoter Eddie Hearn meanwhile told Telegraph Sport on Thursday: “Of course we were serious about the fight. We wouldn’t waste everyone’s time with three different offers, we don’t do it for fun. AJ controls the finances and the offers came from AJ. As a WBO mandatory challenger Dillian was due 20 per cent and the final offer was considerably more than that. Dillian has a perception of his value in the fight, we respect that and we will continue to work with him and grow his stock in the heavyweight division. I like the Joshua-Whyte fight. I do think Dillian deserves a world title shot. The carrot here was if you beat Joshua you become a great star. There is still a chance that this fight could be made in May or June.”