Anthony Joshua WON’T be attending Wilder vs. Fury fight
By Scott Gilfoid: In a questionable move, Anthony Joshua won’t be attending the Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury fight on December 1 due to sponsorship commitments, according to Mailsport.
Joshua, 28, is said to have been interested in attending the Wilder-Fury fight, but he was unable to because of his commitments to his sponsors. It’s a missed opportunity for IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), as he would have been able to create interest in the boxing world about him facing the winner. However, by Joshua choosing not to attend the Wilder-Fury fight, it furthers the belief that he and his promoter Eddie Hearn want no part of fighting the unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs).
Hearn has been banging the drum about how interested he is in making the Joshua vs. Wilder fight. But when push comes to shove, we see otherwise with Joshua deciding not to attend the Wilder-Fury fight, and instead looking to potentially milk his IBF/WBA/WBO titles against the likes of Dillian Whyte or Jarrell Miller on April 13. In an ideal world, the best should be fighting the best in the heavyweight division, but that’s not happening in this era. Joshua is clearly not facing the best. At least Wilder was willing to fight the #3 heavyweight in the world in Luis Ortiz recently. Wilder risked everything in facing the talented former Cuban amateur champion. Joshua fought Wladimir Klitschko in 2017, but he was an old timer that hadn’t fought in 2 years since losing to Tyson Fury in 2015. Even then, Joshua was almost beaten by Wladimir.
Unfortunately, the way the fans are going to see Joshua not attending the Wilder-Fury fight is that he NEVER had any interest in fighting the winner to begin with. By staying as far away as possible from the Wilder vs. Fury fight, Joshua doesn’t have to feel the pressure from the boxing world to fight the winner, which figures to be the 6’7″ Wilder. It’s believed that Joshua would take a fight against the unbeaten Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) in a second if the opportunity was presented to him, but he’s expected to be plowed in a major way by Wilder on December 1. As such, there’s no point in Joshua attending the Wilder-Fury fight, because the winner will be a guy that he doesn’t appear to have any interest in fighting anyway.
The 250+ lb Joshua still needs an opponent for his next fight on April 13 at Wembley Stadium in London, England. It’s important that his wily promoter Eddie Hearn finds him a talented fighter that the UK boxing fans want to see. Thus far, the only names that Hearn has floated as potential opponents for Joshua are his Matchroom stable fighters Dillian Whyte and Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller. Obviously, it would look like a self-serving move on Hearn’s part to plug in Whyte or Miller as Joshua’s April 13 opponent rather than a fighter that the boxing public actually wants to see like Deontay or Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz. Those guys are arguably in the ‘need not apply club,’ as far as Joshua is concerned. Hearn has just shown zero interest in letting his money man Joshua fight either of those talents, and he’s not expected to start showing interest anytime soon.
Joshua’s decision not showing up to watch the Wilder-Fury fight live on December 1 at the Staples Center, he’s going to be viewed by the fans as scared, reluctant to fight the best, and as a ducker. That’s not the way that Joshua needs to be viewed if he wants to be taken seriously as a heavyweight. He should have already fought Wilder two to three years ago, but he just hasn’t fancied pushing Hearn to make the fight for some reason. Joshua could have made the Wilder fight last September, but instead he chose to defend against his WBA mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin. Joshua and Hearn said at the time that they were worried about being stripped of the WBA title by the World Boxing Association, but it’s almost impossible to believe that the santioning body would have stripped a popular champion like him. Would the WBA have stripped Joshua if he’d fought Wilder in a unification fight last September? I’d say that’s a big no. It would be like the WBA shooting themselves in the foot by stripping Joshua of his WBA title. If they had done that, they would have wound up with a less than popular heavyweight like Jarrell Miller as their champion. Not facing Wilder last September has to be viewed as an avoidant move on Joshua and Hearn’s part, but it’s nothing new for them. They haven’t shown the interest to make the fight with Wilder. The 85-15 purse split that Hearn has been offering Wilder is a clear sign that he doesn’t want to make the fight.
Joshua and Hearn could make this into a huge blockbuster deal for the boxing fans by attending the Wilder vs. Fury fight so that the hype can start building immediately for an April 13 fight. Instead, Joshua won’t be showing up for the fight, which tells you all you need to know about his lack of interest in facing Wilder on April 13. It’s not about ego. It’s about Joshua coming across as having ZERO interest in taking on the lightning quick 6’7″ Deontay. With Wilder’s cat-like reflexes and his one-punch power, the easy to hit Joshua couldn’t afford to make any mistakes against him. Joshua lacks the sound defensive ability to keep from getting hit by a guy with Wilder’s height, reach, quickness and talent. Once Joshua gets hit, it might be all she wrote.
Joshua is a different kind of heavyweight champion. In the past, you had champions like Lennox Lewis, Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Mike Tyson who were willing to take on all comers. Joshua is seemingly the new breed of heavyweight champion, who is matched against less than the best. The perception boxing fans have is Joshua is taking the safe fights against the likes of 39-year-old Povetkin, Dillian Whyte, Joseph Parker, Carlos Takam and Eric Molina, and bypassing the dangerous ones against Deontay and Ortiz. It’s too bad. Joshua at least would have a chance to show that he belongs as a belt holder if he would fight Wilder and Ortiz. The way it is now, Joshua is considered a regional champion in the eyes of a lot of boxing fans. Wilder even calls Joshua the champion of England rather than a world champion due to him failing to make a fight against him.