Anthony Joshua says he feels vindicated after Deontay Wilder let slip that he had, indeed, turned down a lucrative offer to face his British rival when the duo ruled as reigning world champions.
Former WBC king Wilder had always maintained that WBA Super, WBO and IBF title-holder Joshua had been avoiding a unification battle, but in a tweet aimed at Tyson Fury at the weekend, the Bronze Bomber’s defence slipped. “You know I was offered more money to fight Joshua than I was getting to fight you. Again, being a man of my word, I fought you,” tweeted Wilder.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn quickly reacted: “I thought AJ ducked you?” and now the champion has weighed in, saying Wilder’s admission validates his assertion that he was always serious about a unification battle before the American unravelled in his rematch against Fury in February.
“It makes the ultimate sense. It’s hard because at the time when people are talking and you see lots of media stuff, you start to believe what that person is saying. When time goes by, naturally the truth will always reveal itself,” Joshua told Sky Sports News.
“I get a lot of stick but I take it with a pinch of salt. He admitted it. We made him a lucrative offer but he wanted to face Fury. So be it. If that’s what he wanted to do, fine. But he dragged my name through the mud.
“While Wilder was trying to make me look like a bad person, that I didn’t want to enhance the sport, or fight certain fighters, I just had to roll with the punches. He has come out and said it himself. We offered him a really good deal but he wanted to fight Fury.
“People can take it how they want and see what the truth is now.”
Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) is next in action on December 12 against IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, with a two-fight series against WBC champion Fury mooted for 2021.