It took Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao nearly six years to finally meet in the ring.
Amid disputes over money, a £473million ($600m) deal was finally reached, with both fighters putting their egos aside to do battle in a blockbuster bout in 2015 that saw Mayweather claim victory via a unanimous decision.
Interestingly, it has taken Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder nearly as long to negotiate a deal to square off against eachother in the ring.
Their much anticipated bout has been the talk of the heavyweight division for nearly six years, with the pair having previously held talks over a fight back in 2017, where a unification bout was first touted.
A meeting between the two former heavyweight champions is something that boxing fans have been dying to see for some time and may finally be on the cards.
Deontay Wilder, right, has previously claimed Anthony Joshua’s promoters had stopped a fight from being made
Wilder defeated Robert Helenius in the first round of their WBC world heavyweight title eliminator bout in October 2022, he has not fought since
Joshua also recently beat Helenius, but on Saturday night will fight against Otto Wallin
ESPN claimed last week that the duo had agreed a deal to return to Saudi Arabia to fight on March 9, 2024.
While that report is yet to be confirmed by both parties, Wilder has claimed that the fight is now closer than it ever has been, sparking much excitement among the boxing community.
On Wednesday, boxing correspondent Dan Rafael reported the duo have agreed a two-fight deal, which will be announced ahead of their respective Day of Reckoning bouts in Saudi Arabia this weekend.
‘That’s the biggest fight in the world,’ ‘The Bronze Bomber’ said to Sky Sports on his potential clash against Joshua.
‘Now the moment has come where it’s the closest that it’s ever been in history right now. The closest that it’s ever been.’
Yet, while he admitted his excitement over the thought of a fight, he added that he was still not completely certain that the bout would go ahead: ‘I’m excited to say that. I’m not 100 percent sure that it’s going to happen. There’s a lot of things that have gone on, a lot of things that has been done.
‘You can’t be 100 percent until that bell rings and that first punch has been thrown.’
Before then, Wilder has the task of taking down Joseph Parker on Saturday night, with the New Zealander having only lost once in his last ten fights.
Joshua, meanwhile, takes on Otto Wallin on the same card, with the Sweedish southpaw having only suffered one defeat during his career to Tyson Fury in 2019.
It will be an intriguing night of action with Frank Warren claiming both fighters are ‘under some pressure’ to deliver during the ‘Day of Reckoning’ event and should either lose, it could throw yet another spanner in the works for their potential meeting in 2024.
Wallin has only been beaten once, by Tyson Fury, and will present a tough challenge for Joshua
Wilder, meanwhile, will go up against Joseph Parker on the same card as Joshua and Wallin
Why has this fight taken so long to make?
For large parts of their professional careers, Wilder and Joshua have been embroiled in a war of words that has seen both fighters claim throw verbal blows amid their inability to negotiate a deal to fight each other.
Talks between the pair over the fight stretch back to 2017, with Mail Sport reporting that talks between the pair had broken amid claims that Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, had reportedly refused to split the purse between the two fighters evenly.
The then WBC world heavyweight champion, Wilder, subsequently went on to defeat Luis Ortiz in March of 2018, with Joshua recording a unanimous decision victory against Parker at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
But it wasn’t too long before a potential meeting between the pair was back on the table again, with reports claiming in March that the American had made a £40m offer to Joshua, after the Brit had publicly stated that he would accept the fight if he was offered that eye-watering ammount of money.
Despite that, negotiations appeared to stall once again, with Wilder branding Hearn and Joshua ‘hypocrites’.
He had apparently sent the Matchroom team an offer without a contract, claiming that Joshua’s promoters had snubbed the offer because they had not received a contract. Wilder became incensed because it was reported that Hearn and his team had previously done the same.
He wrote on social media: ‘We sent a deal over just like they did without a contract. The only difference is that we DECLINED their offer so, no need for a meeting with a contract. #Hypocrites at its finest. This is simple!!
‘It’s like buying a house your not going to buy it without first accepting the price then contract follows accordingly.’
Wilder’s, promoter Shelly Finkel also hit back at Hearn in a leaked email claiming that the promoter had failed to send a contract over to them prior to negotiations. In the correspondence, he said: ‘you saying we didn’t even send you a contract is a smoke screen’, before using various examples of when Hearn had failed to send a contract prior to their negotiations.
Ultimately, the talks broke down again, with Wilder claiming last year that Joshua had ‘done everything’ to avoid him during their negotiations that had lasted for over six months.
Should Joshua and Wilder win both of their fights on December 23 they could potentially meet next year
Despite that their contract talks in the past have been long and have failed time and time again, with Wilder having called Joshua and his team hypocrites in the past
Despite that, Eddie Hearn recently told Mail Sport that while there were ‘many reasons why the fight talks broke down’, he gave his say on the feud, claiming that Wilder’s team had asked them to agree a deal worth £40m without a contract.
‘To be honest with you, that was about three, four years ago. No one came to us with an offer. We received an email,’ Hearn said.
‘I mean, me and Deontay are friends so I don’t want to hard, but we received an email from a Hotmail address saying we will give you $50million for the fight. It was sent to Anthony Joshua. Directly. He was like “what”.
‘So, I went back and said send the contract. They went no, you need to agree terms before we send the contract. I said you don’t agree terms before sending the contract.
‘I didn’t know what was the contract looks like at this point. I’m not going to put myself in a position and say yes I agree terms and then receive a contract that is just rubbish and you can’t sign it. But, they never sent it.
‘There’s a lot of reasons why that fight didn’t happen but we have to look to the future.
‘We have a big chance of getting the fight. But, it’s all irrelevant if they don’t win on December 23.’
Wilder also claimed that Joshua’s management had ‘held him back from making the fight’ and that the British fighter had turned down his big money offer.
Wilder said back in November: ‘It’s his management that have held him back from fighting me because, you know, he’s a fighter. It’s been over six years (waiting for the fight to be made). But there comes a point in time we’re you’re like, ‘Forget it’.
‘Many times he wanted to fight, he wanted to accept it but his handlers didn’t want it because Joshua is the money-maker for the company. And if he goes down, so does the business.’
Fast forward to today and things are looking a little more promising compared to the past, especially considering Wilder’s recent comments that the fight could be close.
But as hearn says, their negotiations could mean nothing if neither fighter wins on Saturday night.
Their war of words
Despite that, both fighters seem focused and confident ahead of their respective bouts this weekend. They are both winners and know that they could secure fights against some big opponents next year, with Joshua ‘potentially in line for an IBF title tilt’.
While the pair will not be meeting in Saudi Arabia this time around, tension is continuing to bubble, with Joshua hitting out at the American fighter earlier this summer stating: ‘Forget Wilder and them lot. Them lot are doing my head in for years.
‘You lot have seen now the shenanigans that go on in the heavyweight division.’
Eddie Hearn has previously claimed that there were ‘a lot of reasons why the fight hadn’t happened’
He also claimed that his rival was ‘not an elite level fighter’ in what was a withering assessment of the Bronze Bomber.
Wilder, meanwhile, has fired plenty of shade back at Joshua this week, claiming the British fighter has ‘lost the respect of the heavyweight division’.
He added Joshua was also a ‘made fighter’, stating: ‘I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again, it’s a difference between champions being born and being made.’
It seems there is no love lost between the two boxers. If their fight does go ahead as planned next year, there’s no doubt we’ll be set for a firey encounter between two boxers that boast very impressive resumes.