Promoter Eddie Hearn went on the offensive in negotiations with Deontay Wilder by announcing Anthony Joshua's next two fights will be staged at Wembley Stadium.
Confirmation is expected next week that WBA-IBF-WBO world heavyweight champion Joshua will face Russia's Alexander Povetkin in London on Sept. 22 with the plan then for Joshua to fight WBC titleholder Wilder in what is likely to be boxing's biggest global event of 2019 at Wembley on April 13.
In the latest tactical move of negotiations to make boxing's first world heavyweight title unification fight for all four major belts, Hearn has put pressure on WBC titleholder Wilder to sign his $15million contract offer to fight Joshua by naming the date and venue of the fight.
Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs), 32, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was also offered a $20m deal for him to have an interim fight and then face Joshua.
Talks collapsed last week after Hearn declared Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) will fight Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) next and blamed Wilder and his team for taking too long to return a signed contract. The WBA world governing body were demanding an answer from Hearn about a mandatory defence against Povetkin, which will be watched by a crowd of 90,000 -- the same figure that saw him knock out Wladimir Klitschko in April last year.
But for next year, Hearn is expecting a bigger crowd for a bigger fight. "We are expecting the April 13 capacity to be extended to over 100,000," Hearn tweeted Thursday.
Having being watched by an aggregate crowd of 250,000 in his last three fights [one at Wembley, two at Cardiff's Principality Stadium], Joshua will be well on his way to attracting a million fans at the gate in a year's time.
As for a purse split with Wilder, Hearn is seeking 70-30 in Joshua's favour. And if Wilder is not agreeable, Joshua and Hearn have other options for April 13.
An all-English clash between Joshua's old rival Dillian Whyte or against former WBA-IBF-WBO world champion Tyson Fury would both ensure a capacity crowd, if not as much global interest as a fight versus Wilder.
Whyte, ranked No 1 with the WBC and No 2 with the WBO, fights former WBO champion Joseph Parker on July 28 and was stopped by Joshua in December 2015. Fury last month fought for the first time since out-pointing Klitschko for three belts in November 2015.
Hearn has played his cards and it is over to Wilder now.