Joshua: ‘Wilder is keeping fans from seeing undisputed fight’
By Charles Brun: IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is complaining that WBC champ Deontay Wilder is “starving” the fans by keeping them from seeing the two of them face each other for all the belts in division i a big unification fight. Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) suspects that Wilder’s team will keep kicking the can down the road by having the fight delayed year after year.
As of now, Wilder’s co-promoter Shelly Finkel recently said this week that they won’t attempt to make the fight with Joshua in 2019. They’ll revisit the negotiations in 2020. Joshua believes that they’re going to keep putting it off.
“Wilder’s just starving the fans from an undisputed fight… People assume we were the ones dodging,” Joshua said to sportingnews.com. They did a great campaign to make a name off the back of our success. With all that talking, none of them have stepped up to fight.”
It makes a lot of sense for Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) to keep delaying the Joshua fight, because the longer they put it off, the bigger it becomes. Right now, Joshua is an unknown in the U.S, so there won’t be a lot of money that can be made in the States if the two of them face each other. But if Joshua can put together some victories over quality heavyweights on DAZN, then things can change. Obviously, Joshua’s upcoming June 1 fight against replacement opponent Andy Ruiz Jr. (32-1, 21 KOs) won’t do much for his popularity. It’s a fat-looking, little known American heavyweight that Joshua will be facing in the short 6’2″, 260+ pound Ruiz Jr. He’s from the U.S, but the casual fans don’t know who he is, and they’ll likely be shocked and put off when he climbs into the ring to face Joshua on June 1.
Joshua will need to do a lot better than that if he wants to build his name in the U.S for a fight against Wilder to be a big one. If Ruiz Jr. and Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller are the types of opponents that Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn is going to be continually trying to match him up against, then team Wilder might need to put off the fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship until 2021 for it to be worth anything in the U.S. Joshua’s popularity won’t increase if he’s going to be fighting guys like Ruiz and Miller.
“He might want the fight next, but I don’t see why he would want to wait until 2020, because 2020 turns into 2021, you know what I mean? We need to get these negotiations on the way now,” Joshua said.
Joshua could have already had the fight with Wilder a long time ago if his promoter Eddie Hearn would give him the 50-50 deal that he’s been asking for. Wilder has been very clear on this. He wants a 50-50 deal When Joshua complains about the fight with Wilder not taking place, he’s upset that he wont agree to taking the smaller money that’s being offered. Why would he? If you know that Wilder wants 50%, why complain? It’s on Joshua. Unless Joshua wants to tell his promoter Hearn to give Wilder the purse split that he’s asking for, he’s going to need to move on and quit talking about the fight with him, because it’s clear that he doesn’t want to give him what he’s asking for.
Wilder has some important fights ahead of him in 2019 starting with title defense against mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale on May 18th. It’s a good fight that a lot of boxing fans are interested in the U.S. If Wilder wins that fight, he’s expected to face unbeaten Adam Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs) in a match that’ll be a war from start to finish. A rematch between Wilder and former world title challenger Luis “King Kong” Ortiz will likely take place either late 2019 or early 2020. That fight is going to generate a ton of interest from U.S fans. Joshua could be fighting Ortiz next for his June 1 fight, but his promoter Hearn didn’t want to meet the asking price that the Cuban fighter’s management were asking. Hearn revealed that he offered them $7 million, which wasn’t good enough to get the fight. Even if Ortiz’s promoter wanted $10 million, Hearn should stuck it out and put that deal together. Ortiz would have brought a lot to the table for Joshua. Wilder be the one that will be getting a huge bump up in popularity by fighting Ortiz a second time.
Joshua says he wants to fight cruiserweight Oleksandr Usyk after he faces Wilder. Joshua will probably need to change that idea and instead fight Usyk next year unless he barks the orders to Hearn to give Wilder his asking price for the fight. Joshua vs. Usyk needs to be built up in the same way the Wilder fight does. Usyk isn’t well known in the U.S, and he’s not that well known in the UK either. To get the most out of a Joshua-Usyk fight, the Ukrainian fighter needs to put together six to ten good wins at heavyweight before make that fight. It’s nice that Usyk unified the cruiserweight division recently and won the World Boxing Super Series tournament, but few fans pay attention to the cruiserweight division.
The guys that Usyk beat in the tournament weren’t impressive. In Usyk’s last fight, he fought former WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew last November in stopping him in the eighth round. Usyk didn’t look that good in that fight. He was taking shots, looking timid, and not really impressing until he knocked Bellew out in the eighth round. Usyk is fighting this month against 38-year-old former world title challenge Carlos Takam on May 25 on DAZN in Maryland. That’s a decent first fight at heavyweight, but Usyk will need to do a lot more than that to increase his popularity to any great extent. Hearn can go ahead and pull the trigger on a the Joshua vs. Usyk fight right now, and it would do well in the UK. It wouldn’t do well in the U.S though, because neither of those guys are household names.