Just as fans least expected it, former heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder may square off next in a UK versus US pick ’em fight.
Despite being ordered to face Andy Ruiz Jr as a final eliminator for a shot at Tyson Fury’s WBC title, Deontay Wilder’s team have said they are willing to bypass that opportunity to face ‘AJ’ in the UK or the Middle East.
Speaking to World Boxing News, Wilder’s manager, Shelly Finkel, made their position clear.
“Deontay is willing to fight Anthony Joshua next. We would take that fight in the UK or the Middle East, and we will do it next.
“We have the WBC eliminator with Ruiz, and we will do that, but we want the Joshua fight. Eddie Hearn said he contacted me in August, but we had the [Robert] Helenius fight.”
“We announced it that month and said we won’t talk to anyone until after the Helenius fight. Eddie knew this but still said he had contacted us.”
With the proposal now seemingly laid at promoter Eddie Hearn’s door, it’s up to him to speak to Joshua and see what their 2023 plans look like. Following Dillian Whyte’s recent victory over Jermaine Franklin, it was widely assumed that ‘AJ’ would face him in a rematch.
Finkel knows that may be the case, but he’s urging the Brits to make a deal with him instead. Hearn has previously expressed both his and his fighter’s interest in making the fight happen.
“Now we are willing to talk to make a deal for Joshua next.”
“Deontay wants the fight next. We’ve been trying since 2017 to get the Joshua fight. Let’s make a deal and do the fight. The fans want to see it, so why not?”
“The Ruiz fight is there, and we will do it if we can’t get Joshua. But even if Deontay beats Ruiz, we are still willing to fight Joshua.”
“We understand Eddie could want the Whyte fight, but the fans would like to see Deontay Wilder vs Anthony Joshua, and we are willing to do it. Let’s make a deal,”
Whilst the news is positive, some questions remain. Will ‘AJ’ risk stepping in the ring with one of the hardest hitters in the sport after two consecutive losses and potentially a new training team? How does the rival broadcast situation get settled? And, finally, is it yet another empty promise from the matchmakers of the sport?
More is expected to follow, as both men will look to announce their plans for the new year soon.