Speaking to the BBC recently, IBF and WBA heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua reassured the boxing world that he is “serious about becoming undisputed heavyweight champion.”
However, despite their claims to the contrary, Joshua isn’t particularly convinced that the other big names in the division are quite as ambitious as he.
Standing guard along Joshua’s long road to undisputed status are a trio of fighters, New Zealand’s WBO titleholder Joseph Parker, America’s formidable WBC titlist Deontay Wilder, and Joshua’s countryman, the still-reigning Ring magazine and lineal heavyweight champion of the world, Tyson Fury.
It’s the latter two, of course, that fans really want to see in the ring with Joshua.
Over the weekend, Wilder entered a vicious and devastating, if slightly uncultured, performance to reduce Bermane Stiverne to utter rubble inside a round. The result was particularly eye-catching due to the fact that Stiverne is the only man to ever survive the distance with the towering and explosive ‘Bronze Bomber’ – when he ripped the WBC belt from Stiverne in January 2015, Wilder was forced to go the 12-round championship distance.
After decimating Stiverne in the rematch, Wilder was very vocal about his desire to fight Joshua.
“I declare war upon you,” Wilder said. “Do you accept my challenge? I’ve been waiting for a long time, I know I’m the champion, I know I’m the best. Are you up for the test?”
Joshua, however, says that while Wilder continues to talk a big game, he has never seen any offers from the undefeated Alabama native’s team.
“Deontay Wilder wants to call me out – no problem,” the 2012 Olympic gold medalist told Kugan Cassius of iFL TV. “I have already had a meeting [with my team] about that, but the difference between me and him is that I don’t just say what I say to please people. I mean what I say. I don’t do my negotiations in public, I don’t do business in public.”
“Wilder seems to say that I’m ducking him and that he’s really interested in fighting me. There has not been offers to say, ‘Anthony, look, we’ve got this venue for you on this date, we’ve got this broadcaster, and that broadcaster and this broadcaster interested in taking the fight, and these are the terms and conditions of the fight.’ I haven’t had anything like that. So, it seems to me that there is interest, but it’s not a serious interest.”
As a result, Joshua says his team have decided to become more proactive.
This weekend, Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn runs his first show in the United States, the main event of which is a middleweight bout between his new signing Daniel Jacobs and Luis Arias. According to A.J, Hearn will also be working on piecing together a fight with Wilder while he is in the states.
“What we’ve decided to do is… Eddie is going to America, obviously, for the Danny Jacobs fight and he is contacting the champions that are interested in fighting, and I’ll have to kind of put my foot forward and start making the offers and start trying to secure a fight with the likes of Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker,” said Joshua.
“It’s no problem if Wilder wants to fight early next year, but no offers have been made to me,” Joshua added in the aforementioned interview with the BBC.
“Let’s present him with an offer, and see how they feel about that. If Wilder’s not making an offer, we’ll do it on my terms.”
Meanwhile, Fury remains inactive thanks to legal complications surrounding a failed U.K Anti-Doping drug test in early 2015. The giant Mancunian hasn’t fought since November of the same year, when he dethroned long-reigning heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko via unanimous decision in Dusseldorf.
Fury has once again been making noise about a return in recent weeks, and a fight pitting the 29-year-old against Joshua would be enormous. A.J is obviously interested in the fight, but he also wants to see evidence that Fury, who has at times during his hiatus claimed to weigh 25 stone(350lbs or 159kg) – over 7 stone(98lbs or 47kg) more than he weighed against Klitschko – is serious about a comeback which he has suggested was on the cards many times before.
“One side of me says, with all due respect, that he is irrelevant because he is not fighting, he is not active,” added Joshua. “But the other side of me says I need him, I want him so I can compete with him.
“I’m not interested in the business of talking, all these guys are doing their business on social media. When he is back we will get the ball rolling, until then it’s not relevant to me.”
On Thursday, Joshua tweeted the video of the full interview with iFL TV, adding; “a little word on the @BronzeBomber fight. Ready and waiting for the offer.”
— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyfjoshua) November 9, 2017
He followed that swiftly with a shot at Fury.
“& @Tyson_Fury get fit you fat fuck”.
& @Tyson_Fury get fit you fat fuck
— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyfjoshua) November 9, 2017
Joshua, who extended his perfect professional record to 20-0 with 20 stoppages with a tenth-round TKO win over game late-replacement Carlos Takam at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on October 28th, is expected to return to the ring in February or March.