Anthony Joshua insists that he’s not afraid of taking on heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, and that he would want to fight him even if he weren’t a belt holder. Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) says fear doesn’t enter into the equation when it comes to WBC champion Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) or any fighter.
A fight between IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Joshua isn’t in the cards for the foreseeable future, unfortunately, as AJ has 2 mandatory title defenses to make in 2020 against Oleksandr Usyk and Kubrat Pulev. Wilder will be fighting Tyson Fury twice next year. In 2021, there’s nothing stopping Joshua and Wilder from facing each other.
Joshua willing to fight Wilder with or without a belt
“Why did you get the message that I didn’t want to fight him?” said Joshua to Sky Sports Boxing about Wilder. “Let’s put the belts aside. There is a man in the heavyweight division named Deontay Wilder. Is he a man that I would fight with or without the belts? Yes. I think we put too much emphasis on the belts. WBA champion, unified champion; ‘oh, they don’t want to fight because they’re scared to lose the belts.’
“Me facing off with him [Wilder] man to man, I’ll fight him, and he’ll fight me. There’s no two ways about ducking or what. It’s competition, bro at the highest level. With or without the belts, is competition that I live for, and that’s why I’m not giving up,” said Joshua.
Fans have the perception that Joshua wants no part of fighting Wilder due to his promoter Eddie Hearn pricing himself out of the fight. Wilder wanted the fight with Joshua for the last two years, but his management have had no luck in getting Eddie to make the fight.
It might be better if Joshua or Wilder both lose, because once they taste defeat, then it could remove the last impediment in making the fight between them. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn is talking about wanting to put him in with Tyson Fury. Wilder may need to wait a while before he gets a fight with Joshua, but it could happen sooner or later.
Joshua looking forward to Usyk fight
“I’m continually fighting solid competition to keep me in line as the #1 heavyweight in the world,” said Joshua. “I’m just a guy that will take on all challengers and all comers. They’re talking about Usyk next, which is no problem for me. It’s another solid competitor on my record, and it just shows I’m competing against the best in the world,” said Joshua.
WBO mandatory Oleksandr Usyk is the guy that Joshua wants to fight first in 2020. Hearn is still working with the IBF and WBO to find out which mandatory will come first, but it seems clear that Joshua wants Usyk next. That means the IBF belt could be vacated by Joshua if the sanctioning body doesn’t agree to let the WBO go first. IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev would bring very little interest for UK and U.S boxing fans Pulev is old at 38, and he’s not fighting at the same level as Usyk.