Nigerian-born world heavyweight boxing champions, Anthony Olaseni Oluwafemi Joshua could have ended up fighting Luis Ortiz on June 1, instead of Andy Ruiz Jr, had the former rival accepted an offer of $7m.
This is the startling revelation of Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, who revealed that Ortiz turned down two, big seven-figure offers to fight ‘AJ’ on his USA debut at Madison Square Garden, New York.
Joshua, the unified world heavyweight champ, was left looking for a new opponent for his American bow after Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller failed three drugs tests, and ultimately settled on Ruiz.
Joshua, who inked a new three-year deal with Hearn in 2018, had his first choice target as Ortiz, who first rejected $6m and then $7m offers for him to jump in at late notice.
Hearn detailed the process of negotiations and a rare insight into how talks played out with Ortiz, who is thought of as one of the most feared contenders in the heavyweight division
Initially, the Cuban’s camp accused Hearn of making ‘lowball’ offers in negotiations, though they soon retracted this statement when he threatened to ‘expose’ them.
Joshua’s biggest rival in the class, Deontay Wilder knocked out Ortiz in March 2018, but his team put out a controversial post on Instagram in which they declared the bout would not be happening due to ‘lowball’ offers from the Brit’s camp.
This angered Hearn, provoking him to now publicly detail the proposals he made them.
Hearn disclosed: “I got two phone calls when the [Miller] news broke straight away. One was Jay Jimenez who is Luis Ortiz’s manager.
“Jay Jimenez phoned me up and said, ‘I can’t believe this, I don’t think Luis will be ready.’
“I said, ‘Find out if Luis will be ready.’ He came back the next day or two days later and said, ‘Make us an offer.’
“I made them an offer $6million – that was my first offer… No reply, this was on Friday. Monday I said, ‘I’ll call you.’
“Later on that day I came back and said, ‘Right, this is it, $7million for June 1.
“A ematch for quite a bit more and if he loses, I’ll give you another fight for a lot of money for security.’ Nothing back.
“Not only were you offered $7million, but you tried to out us in the public eye, in the media.
“To try and f*** our reputation and discredit us when you got offered $6m and then $7m for a fight.
“And how much did you get when you fought Deontay Wilder? I don’t know, $1million? If that? So you got offered seven times more to fight Anthony Joshua.”