Fearless and full of fighting talk, Anthony Joshua turns up heat on Deontay Wilder

Wilder has claimed Joshua is dodging him but the IBF, WBA and new WBO heavyweight champ delivered a withering response to the man currently holding the WBC strap

Declan Taylor
Sunday 01 April 2018 16:34
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Anthony Joshua eyes up showdown with Deontay Wilder

Anthony Joshua has warned fellow world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder that he must be prepared to sacrifice if he ever wants to unify the division.

Having boxed in his third consecutive stadium fight, taking his live audience near to the 250,000 mark in the last 11 months and securing his third major championship belt, Joshua was in a strong negotiating position in the aftermath of Saturday night's victory.

The Londoner was forced to await a judges' decision for the first time since the 2012 Olympic final after the tough, skilled but ultimately too small Joseph Parker took him the full 12-round distance.

At London 2012, Joshua secured a razor-close countback victory to claim gold after a nervous wait for the final decision. Six years on there was no such drama after a reasonably comfortable victory over one of the world's premier heavyweights.

Now, amid the questionable claims emanating from Wilder and his team that Joshua is swerving them, the IBF, WBA and new WBO heavyweight champion delivered a withering response to the man currently holding the WBC strap.

“We are making history time and time again,” Joshua said. “Setting new trends. It's not about fear or not wanting to fight someone, but it is about doing what's right for my career as well. Not just doing what people want me to do. We have to do what's right. I'm not just going to give him everything he wants to get him here. He has to do a little bit of work and sacrifice a little bit as well.

“Does he need me more than I need him? Yes. Without being big-headed, that's 100 per cent. He needs British boxing. He's bigger here than he is in the States because of us. I'm in a great position because I can still fight top-10 heavyweights, it's not an issue. Either he will step up or not, but my career will still go on.

“But he is in a position after 10 years as a pro and he hasn't done what I have. You have to look at him and ask him does he really want it?”

Joshua showed admirable patience as well as his usual power 

Wilder, four years Joshua's senior at 32, was already a 29-0 heavyweight by the time Joshua made his professional debut in October 2013 and he has been the WBC world champion since January 2015 when he beat Bermane Stiverne at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

And Joshua believes the fact that Wilder has not attempted to unify the division before now further proves that he might not exactly mean what he says in public.

Joshua added: “He had the WBC belt when Klitschko was still fighting and I think if he was so interested in becoming undisputed champ why didn't he say: 'this is the belt your brother had all these years, I've got it now, come and fight me'. He was happy doing his own thing quietly then he came to my [Wladimir] Klitschko fight, watched it and said 'this is phenomenal, we need to be doing more of this in the States'.

Joshua called Wilder out from the ring

“He never spoke of fighting me straight after then but after the Carlos Takam fight he called me out. Look at what we're doing and where we're going. I've got no issue fighting anyone. If you look through my record from my 21 fights, there hasn't been an issue with fighting anyone.

“There is no fear. There should be no hold ups and that fight should be sooner rather than later.”

Joshua needed 10 rounds to get rid of the famously durable Takam in Cardiff in October while, five months on and below the very same Principality Stadium roof, Joshua has now gone the distance for the first time in his career.

Wilder wants Joshua but might have to wait

Observers such as Wilder, and the returning Tyson Fury, may sense an opportunity but Joshua felt his performance merely highlighted a different angle of his skillset.

“I can definitely knock people out and hurt them but I can definitely stick to a gameplan and carry a fight through and just take the spirit out of a champion,” he added. “That's what I wanted to do tonight. I am a work in progress. I do like to be known as a big puncher but at the same time I do like to be known as someone who can box and control opponents as well.

“I am getting there. I want to stay on this level until I am finished. If you see me fighting better opponents the next four or five fights you'll see me better.”

Joshua will now enjoy a well-earned break and relax on the diet which reduced him to a relatively light 17st 4lbs, although a suggested August return to the ring means he will not be away for too long.

Joshua is now ready for a well-earned rest

It currently seems highly unlikely that Joshua will face Wilder next although the potential money on offer, which could be above the £100m mark, may speed up the negotiations.

“Let's enjoy the win,” Joshua said when asked if he expects to box this summer. “But I swear it would be no problem. This is what I do for a living and it would not be a problem me going to the States.

“I can't rest on this shit, it's not time to sit back and be like I'm the man. Boxing, even sport these days, it doesn't give athletes a chance to make a mistake and learn from.

“It has to be perfection, it has to be a highlight real and it has to look great. If it doesn't, it's not good enough no more. So I don't think we'll see any more Lebron Jameses, anymore Cristiano Ronaldos and it will be hard to find any more Mike Tysons.”

Joshua remains a huge favourite on home soil

His promoter Eddie Hearn, meanwhile, suggested it will be difficult to take Joshua across the pond while his pulling power here in the UK remains so strong. It has been suggested that facing Wilder in Las Vegas, the T-Mobile Arena in particular, would generate more money than a stadium fight back home.

There is also a chance that Joshua could box a fringe contender at Brooklyn's Barclays Center in August in a bid to further raise his profile in America.

But Hearn said: “Vegas would be different. That's the third stadium fight in 11 months. But what is happening here is mental – 90,000, 80,000, 80,000 in 11 months. We should all be looking around, it's madness, it will never happen again I don't think.”

So should the boxing world expect a history-making clash with Wilder next? Probably not, according to Hearn.

"It's so painful because they are f***ing jokers,” he said when asked about current negotiations with the American's team. They have not even approached us. No-one has ever approached us for this fight."

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