Wilder accepts Anthony Joshua challenge

Deontay Wilder has accepted Anthony Joshua’s challenge and “is ready to sign and come to the UK to fight this summer” in a unification contest to decide the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

The US fighter’s team are ready to begin immediate negotiations, Wilder’s co-manager Shelly Finkel confirmed on Monday, after promoter Eddie Hearn stressed the need to get the fight signed for this year, The Telegraph reported.

The American fighter is prepared to accept a 60/40 split of the fight purse with the two camps having already broadly discussed a two-fight scenario, with the first contest most likely at Wembley Stadium and the second in Las Vegas or New York.

“We are really glad that Anthony Joshua said for the first time ‘I will fight Deontay next…’ and we believe he is a man of his word. Deontay accepts the challenge,” Finkel told Telegraph Sport.

Joshua had been quick to call out Wilder in the ring immediately after defeating Joseph Parker in Cardiff, where he claimed the unbeaten Samoan’s WBO title to go with his own IBF and WBA belts. Now only American Wilder, the WBC champion who is undefeated in 40 contests, stands in the way of the Briton unifying all the division’s belts for the first time in history.

Finkel revealed to The Telegraph that he will make contact with Eddie Hearn, Barry Hearn and Matchroom Sport this week, wanting to stress that Wilder, for whom he is co-manager with the influential Al Haymon, is committed to the contest. “We want to make it public that Deontay wants the fight, and we are prepared to come over, or meet here and get the deal done. Deontay is ready to sign and come to the UK to fight this summer.”

Eddie Hearn said on Sunday morning that there is a small window of opportunity before Joshua must defend three other belts against mandatory challengers. In response, Finkel, who has the authority to get the contest signed from the Wilder side, told The Telegraph: “We’re ready. Let’s do it. And anyway, unification fights always trump mandatories. Unification between Wilder and Joshua would push the mandatories back.

“Assuming it will be Wembley Stadium in the summer, we are ready, and if they are ready as they say they are, we want to get it done. We want the fight, they want the fight, and the public wants the fight. There is nothing to stop it going ahead.”