Deontay Wilder opens up on ‘beautiful’ new partnership with Eddie Hearn

Deontay Wilder has called his new partnership with Eddie Hearn “a beautiful thing”, as the longtime rivals approach their first fight as colleagues.

Wilder and Hearn spent years at odds over an elusive fight between the American heavyweight and Anthony Joshua, but the promoter signed Wilder this month, capitalising on the ex-champion’s free agency.

Hearn will promote Wilder as the 38-year-old prepares to face Zhilei Zhang on 1 June, on the undercard of Artur Beterbiev vs Dmitry Bivol. The undercard is built on a unique ‘5 vs 5’ concept, pitting five of Hearn’s fighters against five of Frank Warren’s in Saudi Arabia.

Discussing his relationship with Hearn, Wilder told Boxing News on Thursday (25 April): “It’s a beautiful thing. Over years of back and forth, disagreements and different little things... But life brings about a change, and change is always good.

“When you look at it, you have to look at the landscape of right now, and you’ve got some interesting guys like the Saudis that are in there, changing everything about boxing: the way we promote it, the way we line up fights, and all those different things. Why not have the change of being able to work with each other?

“We don’t have to like each other to do business, but sometimes when you’ve been around a person long enough, you understand their ways and they understand your ways and you can co-exist with each other. That’s what it’s all about.

“I’m glad that we are at this point in time where we can co-exist with each other, because I’m always a promoter’s dream and I think I’m a dream come true for Eddie. I’m happy to be a part of Matchroom and [be] the captain.”

For years, fans have called for a bout between Wilder and Briton Joshua. That dream was never closer to reality than in December, when the heavyweights fought on the same night. A win for both men would have set up a clash between them, but Wilder was comprehensively beaten by Joseph Parker, whereas Joshua dispatched Otto Wallin.

As a result, “AJ” went on to box ex-UFC champion Francis Ngannou in March, winning in round two, while Wilder is preparing for Zhang.

Wilder (left) with Hearn at the launch press conference for the ‘5 vs 5’ event (Getty Images)
Wilder (left) with Hearn at the launch press conference for the ‘5 vs 5’ event (Getty Images)

Reflecting further on his relationship with Hearn, Wilder said of the Briton: “Business is always going to be business, you just have to know how to handle business accordingly. There is no ill will from both sides, we are just firm in what we believe and what we say.

“But when we meet each other, there is respect, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If I argue with you in front of my children, I’ll show you how I end it; you never want to leave an argument unsolved or with people wondering. You may not agree, but that’s okay, because after time you might say: ‘You know what? What you said was right.’”