By: Sean Crose
“He isn’t an elite-level fighter, in my opinion.”
So says heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua in a recent interview with Sky Sports. Joshua isn’t referring to Aleksandr Usyk here, the man who is likely to be his next opponent, but to former WBC titlist Deontay Wilder, who is currently training for a third match with current WBC titlist Tyson Fury. “He’s good,” Joshua concedes of Wilder. “It’s the heavyweights, so they always know one punch can change the course of a fight.” Still, the IBF, WBA and WBO beltholder claims:
“I’ve never, ever seen in the heavyweight division a fighter going to war with just one weapon, which is what they say is his (Wilder’s) right hand…When you get to the top level? Trust me, that don’t last anymore. That don’t work.” What’s more, Joshua says Wilder’s reliance on his right hasn’t always worked as well as hoped for. “As we’ve seen now with certain fights of elite-level fighters,” Joshua says, “he struggles at the top level, and there’s a lot more of us waiting for that opportunity as well to kick his ass.” So Joshua wants to get Wilder in the ring himself? Wilder has indicated otherwise.
“This is the first time I’m talking about Deontay Wilder,” he says, “so I don’t know what excuses he’s thinking I’m making.” Joshua also lets it be known his record can do his talking for him. “I’m a throwback fighter,” says the towering Englishman. “Check the resume, I’ve been in with all of them. The new school and the old school, and there’s still a lot more to do. I’m fighting a great fighter in Usyk.” As for Wilder’s accusation of team Joshua avoiding him, Joshua is clear on the matter. “He’d better watch what he’s saying and have a reality check,” he says, “because when the day comes for me and him to face, I know what I’m capable of doing.”
Should he best Usyk, and should Wilder defeat Fury, there would certainly be a very good reason for Joshua and Wilder to get in the ring. That reason would be the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. It’s been ages since there’s been an undisputed heavyweight champion, and it’s clear fans would like to see a new one. It looked like the public was actually set to see a new undisputed heavyweight champion be crowned just a few weeks ago, when it appeared Joshua and Fury were set to fight in Saudi Arabia. An arbitrator threw cold water on the plans, however, leading Fury to schedule a third fight with Wilder instead.