WBC World heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has questioned Anthony Joshua’s mindset ahead of his WBA/WBO/IBF title defence against Russia’s Alexander Povetkin.

Wilder, who has long been mooted for an undisputed showdown with the unbeaten British star, claimed that the breakdown in negotiations between the pair may have a negative affect on Joshua’s outlook as he heads into the September 22nd bout at London’s Wembley Stadium – before going on to highlight the danger posed by former WBA World champion Povetkin.

“I think it’s definitely gonna be a difficult fight for Joshua.” said Wilder in an interview with BoxingScene.com.

“I think Povetkin is a good fighter. I really do think he’s a good fighter. I think he’s a smart fighter at times in the ring. I do think he has problems with tall fighters, but he’s smart. If you give him the opportunity, he will capitalise on it and he will get you out of there.”

With the formerly pristine public image of Joshua being put to the test in recent months – with some sections of the boxing fraternity accusing the London 2012 Olympic gold medallist of avoiding a bout with Wilder – ‘The Bronze Bomber’ continued by stating that Joshua may be feeling the heat of such accusations.

“Joshua has so much on his mind, so much going on right now.” said the Alabama-native.

“He’s the man of his country. With that being said, when everybody knows you, you can be very miserable. Because everywhere he goes, of course they’re mentioning my name. He can’t get away from me.”

Wilder would go on to state that Joshua “probably thinks about me in his sleep”, due to vociferous calls from boxing fans for the two men to face off.

“He probably thinks about me in his sleep because my name is mentioned so much. I know it. ‘When you gonna fight Wilder? Fight Wilder, you p*ssy! You’re a disgrace!’ This is what they’re saying now. The roles have reversed dramatically.

After a breakdown in negotiations between the two camps resulted in Joshua making a mandatory defence of his WBA/WBO titles against Povetkin, Wilder insisted that Joshua’s considerable fanbase had begun to waiver – before once again reiterating his belief that Povetkin would be no easy task for his unbeaten rival.

“I think this is gonna be a difficult fight for him because I don’t really think his mindset is gonna be in the right place. With this Povetkin fight, the fans aren’t supporting him as strongly as they once were.” Wilder finished.

With Wilder expected to face fellow American Dominic Breazeale in a voluntary defence of his WBC World heavyweight title, a bout with Joshua is – for now at least – on neither man’s immediate horizon.

The undefeated American knockout artist has also been linked with a potential clash with lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in recent days, though a fight between the two is not expected to take place until November at the earliest.

However, it would appear that fact will not result in the conclusion of the public back-and-forth between Wilder and Joshua, with a riposte from Joshua and promoter Eddie Hearn something of an inevitability in the coming days…