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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 2 July, 2020

Povetkin likely next as Joshua left frustrated by Wilder's 'big game', says Hearn

Eddie Hearn says Anthony Joshua is frustrated by negotiations with Deontay Wilder after the WBA ordered an Alexander Povetkin bout.

PROMOTER EDDIE HEARN looks set to press ahead with Anthony Joshua’s WBA title defence against Alexander Povetkin in September amid his and AJ’s fears that Deontay Wilder is playing a “big game”.

WBC champion Wilder is yet to agree to a unification fight with Joshua, who is aiming to hold all four of the major heavyweight belts. 

The lengthy negotiations have once again stalled after delays in the American’s camp returning the contract they were sent by Hearn.

The WBA has ordered the Briton to sign for a mandatory defence of their belt against Povetkin within 24 hours, and Hearn believes the governing body has run out of patience.

He told Sky Sports: “I think they [the WBA] have just said: ‘Enough is enough.’ They have been waiting and to be fair to them, they have been patient, but [WBA president] Gilberto Mendoza has clearly decided enough is enough and we’ve got to move. 

“‘We need to know what you’re doing, you’re mandated to fight Alexander Povetkin’ – and I think Povetkin’s people are getting extremely restless as well.

I think Anthony is frustrated… he feels people feel he might not want this fight. He wants that fight more than anything. We can’t do a lot more than we’re doing. We sent the contract nearly nine days ago now. 

“We’re not even necessarily expecting a signed contract back. We just want your [Wilder's team's] comments. If my fighter wanted a fight, and we received a contract, I would be back with the comments within 24 hours.

“They know we’re under pressure from the WBA and it all feels like a big game. It’s very, very frustrating and right now it looks like Povetkin is next.”

Despite the problems that have come with sorting out the showdown with Wilder, Hearn says Joshua’s main focus is unifying the division.

He added: “The important thing for us is to maintain the belts and not be disrupted by people playing games or people who want to mess us about, because we’re not going to allow that to happen to Anthony Joshua’s career.

“If it is Alexander Povetkin, it will be in September, that’s for sure, and then we fight Wilder straight after, if he signs a contract.

“But the way they are going at the moment, I can’t tell you whether this contract gets signed in 10 days or 10 years.”

Joshua-Povetkin would likely take place in Brooklyn on 22 September, where Katie Taylor will also be fighting as part of Matchroom’s $1bn U.S. deal with streaming service DAZN.

- Omni

‘People say: ‘Jesus, is it safe?’ Insurance companies won’t even give you a quote because it’s a boxing show’

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