Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder ‘not signed’, Eddie Hearn insists amid rumours of two-fight deal

Eddie Hearn has insisted that no contract has been signed for Anthony Joshua to box Deontay Wilder, amid rumours that a two-fight deal has been agreed.

Boxing journalist Dan Rafael reported this week that Joshua, 34, and Wilder, 38, have reached a deal over two bouts in 2024, after ESPN said the heavyweights would clash on 9 March. Rafael reported that a contract is expected to be signed ahead of Joshua and Wilder’s respective fights on Saturday, where “AJ” boxes Otto Wallin on the same card as Wilder’s contest with Joseph Parker.

Yet at Thursday’s press conference for that event, which takes place in Saudi Arabia, Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn insisted that ‘nothing’ has been agreed.

“No, not at all,” he said. “I worry for Deontay Wilder in [his] fight, and anything can happen in our fight as well. Nothing agreed, and all irrelevant until Saturday night has finished.”

American Wilder had said of Joshua moments earlier: “Honestly I see a man that’s been focusing on the task that lies at hand. I’m not in his head, so I can’t speak for him. A lot of people have asked me about his mannerisms, his demeanour, the way he’s been reacting to the media and the questions about me. I can’t speak for him.

“We’re on the outside looking in. We’ll see. He has a big task to complete; I have one as well. When it’s all over, we can talk about it.”

Briton Joshua added: “Pure focus on Saturday, that’s where my heart, soul and every cell in my body is focused. I wanna perform well. I put that pressure on myself; of course I’m tense. I wanna hurt my opponent.”

Joshua boxed Wallin twice in the amateurs, outpointing the Swede both times, and the pair were briefly sparring partners in 2016. Wallin’s biggest professional bout so far came in 2019, when he nearly stopped Tyson Fury after inflicting a nasty cut, only to lose on points – marking the 33-year-old’s only pro defeat.

Former world champion Joshua will be seeking his third win of the year on Saturday, after outpointing Jermaine Franklin in April and knocking out Robert Helenius in round seven in August. In contrast, Wilder will be fighting for the first time in 14 months, having also knocked out Helenius – in the first round – in his most recent bout.

New Zealand’s Parker is a former opponent of Joshua, a former world champion like Wilder, and a teammate of Fury, with whom Wilder contested a trilogy between 2018 and 2021. Wilder controversially drew with Fury in their first fight, before suffering stoppage defeats in their subsequent meetings.

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