The Joshua – Wilder dream goes on hold: New paths emerge

By scottbells - 12/31/2023 - Comments

Anthony Joshua’s mega-fight against Deontay Wilder for early 2024 won’t happen for now after Deontay’s defeat at the hands of Joseph Parker on the recent Saudi card.

Matchroom Boxing boss Eddie Hearn acknowledged the bitter reality of the Joshua-Wilder fight no longer a possibility, and he’s now in the planning stages, speaking with the Saudis for alternative opponents for AJ for his first two fights in 2024.

Hearn says that Parker did what Joshua would have done had he been the one that fought Wilder.

Wilder shouldn’t have fought Parker

He didn’t say that Deontay took a risky fight that he shouldn’t have for the December 23rd card, as there was no reason for him to take on the crafty former WBO champion Parker.

While AJ was matched against a weak opponent with no speed or power in Otto Wallin, Wilder was given a far tougher job in Parker, which he shouldn’t have taken, given that he was coming off a 14-month layoff.

The opponents should have been reversed for the December 23rd card. Deontay needed a soft opponent like Wallin, while AK, the more active fighter, should have fought Parker.

AJ eyes bigger prize

“He [Joshua] did his thing outstandingly [against Wallin], and the fight is dead for now. Who knows what’s going to happen in the future,” said Eddie Hearn to iFL TV about the Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder fight being dead in the water on March 9th after the Bronze Bomber’s loss to Joseph Parker.

If Hearn really wanted the Joshua-Wilder fight, he should have told the Saudis not to have Wilder fighting Parker because that was an insanely dumb move when you’ve got such a massive fight ahead.

Again, with Hearn’s high opinion of Joshua, he should have insisted on Parker being used as his opponent instead of the slow, weak, and out-of-shape Wallin.

It’s so obvious that Joshua got the soft opponent for that event, and Wilder was put in against someone that he had no chance of beating by a decision.

“So, since literally since I left the venue [Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia] that night [December 23rd] to about 20 minutes ago, I’ve been speaking to His Excellency nonstop to decide what we’re going to do,” said Hearn.

“Obviously, AJ is the hot commodity right now. You’ve for Fury-Usyk already locked in, but we’re planning our next move, and those conversations have been evolving since that night as we plan a busy 2024,” said Hearn.

It doesn’t take a genius to predict that Joshua’s next opponent for the March 9th card will be one of these two fighters:

1. Francis Ngannou
2. Agit Kabayel

This writer expects it to be Ngannou that Joshua faces in March because it’s an opponent that will create noise in the boxing world, it’s winnable for AJ, and it will give fans the opportunity to compare how he performs against a fighter that Tyson Fury struggled against. It will also give Hearn the chance to gloat & brag if Joshua destroys Ngannou.

“I don’t rule it [Joshua-Wilder] out. It’s just that the people who wanted to put the fight on [the Saudis] no longer see that as the fight that it was. So, the negotiations that have taken place up to that point to agree to a deal. The numbers don’t work now because Wilder is a busted flush a the moment,” said Hearn.

Hearn pulls no punches on blunt assessment of Wilder

“I know that Wilder always has the punch, but it’s a mismatch [against Joshua], AJ against him at the moment, in my opinion,” said Hearn. “What we saw last week was the reason that I’ve always fancied that fight because if you listen to every interview I’ve ever given you. Outside of his power, I’m not saying his power is overrated. I don’t rate him.

“I’ve said this so many times, and when you look at his resume, I don’t know how many more times I have to say. He hasn’t beaten anyone,” said Hearn about Wilder.

That’s the pot calling the kettle rusty. Hearn sounds hypocritical, commenting about Wilder having a barren resume, yet Joshua’s record is just as empty. Most of the best wins on AJ’s resume were old guys like Wladimir Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Carlos Takam.

AJ’s fight with Parker in 2018 was the strangest, invoking a referee seemingly keeping Joseph from getting near Joshua all night.

“He’s beaten Luis Ortiz, who is a very, very old, arguably elite heavyweight,” said Hearn. “He was top ten when they fought. Maybe not now. Actually, definitely not now, and that is it. I’m not trying to be critical, but I’ve never really got it. He’s so exciting and gives great interviews. ‘Bomb squad.’ He’s not in AJ’s league.

“I like Joseph Parker, but unfortunately, he got a chance to do what we would have done, which was to win every round and might even knock him out. So, right now, we have three fights we’re in discussion for.

“They’re all big, and that doesn’t involve Deontay Wilder for March. Our aim is to fight the winner of Fury-Usyk. That’s what we want to do. Obviously, there’s Hrgovic out there for the [IBF] world title,” said Hearn.

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