Eddie Hearn has said that Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight showdown with Deontay Wilder could take place at Twickenham, after early plans to return to Wembley Stadium were scuppered by scheduling problems.
Joshua defeated Wladimir Klitschko in front of a capacity 90,000 crowd at Wembley in April, equalling the pre-war British boxing attendance record of Len Harvey vs Jock McAvoy, set in 1939.
His most recent fight saw him stop Carlos Takam at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, with the contest eclipsing Muhammad Ali’s victory over Leon Spinks in 1978 as the highest attended indoor boxing event.
Joshua has made it clear to Hearn that he wants to fight Wilder next summer, with Wembley Stadium quickly earmarked as a potential venue for the historic unification clash.
But Hearn, the head of Matchroom Boxing, has said that Twickenham is now seen as the more realistic venue owing to Wembley’s congested calendar, which is even busier than usual owing to Tottenham Hotspur playing their home matches at the stadium this season.
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“Wembley is quite difficult this year. We have already been in contact with them and the options aren’t great,” Hearn told the Mirror before flying to New York to promote Saturday's fight between Daniel Jacobs and Luis Arias.
“Twickenham is a realistic option. We basically want the biggest possibly stadium and if Wembley is not available, the next best would be Twickenham.”
After defeating Bermane Stiverne in the opening round in the early hours of Sunday morning, Wilder accused Joshua of “dodging” a unification showdown, warning: “I declare war upon you (Joshua). Do you accept my challenge? I know I'm the champion, I know I'm the best. Are you up for the test?”
But Hearn said that he is yet to be contacted by a member of Wilder’s team, and that the American has to be realistic when he sits down at the negotiating table.
“I think it is all bluster from Wilder because nobody is reaching out to me,” he said. “All the approaches have come from me.
“We have no problem fighting Wilder next, whether that is spring or summer. The main issue is if they want to come to the negotiating table and then the content of those negotiations.
“One guy is selling 5,000 tickets in Brooklyn, the other is selling 70,000 tickets in Britain and we are making seven or eight times as much money per fight. There has to be some common sense.”
He also said that Joshua could look to fight Parker – who last beat Hughie Fury on points in September – before meeting with Wilder.
“'If we can pick up the belt against Parker and go into the fight with Wilder for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world, now you're talking,” Hearn added.
The biggest boxing attendances
100,000: Dmitry Chudinov vs Mehdi Bouadla, 2014
Russian middleweight Chudinov stopped his opponent in front of a strongly nationalist crowd at the Sevastopol open-air motorcycle show, in the Russian-speaking Crimean peninsula.
105,000: Gene Tunney vs Jack Dempsey, 1927
Otherwise known as The Long Count Fight, because when Tunney was knocked down the count was delayed because of Dempsey’s failure to remain in the neutral corner. Tunney had enough time to rouse himself before winning by unanimous decision.
132,000: Julio Cesar Chavez vs Greg Haugen, 1993
A sold-out Azteca Stadium crowd saw their national hero and pound-for-pound great knock out Haugen in the fifth. The field was surrounded by a moat and barbed wire to stop unruly fans from storming the ring.
135,000: Tony Zale vs Billy Pryor, 1941
No titles were on the line but –crucially – admission was free, so 135k turned out to watch Zale stop Pryor in Milwaukee. Jack Dempsey was the referee.
170,000: Dmitry Chudinov vs Jorge Navarro, 2013
Chudinov is one popular man. This fight also took place at a motorbike festival, this time in Volgograd. This is an estimated figure – the true attendance may have been closer to 200,000.