This weekend, British sensation Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs) and Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 54 KOs) will unify the heavyweight division as they meet for Joshua’s IBF and the vacant WBA World Championship in front of an expected record-setting 90,000 fans at Britain’s largest stadium.
Before the upcoming matchup between Klitschko and Joshua, WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder took some time to discuss his views on this weekend’s fight, as fighting the winner would solidify his budding legacy.
“Hopefully,” said Wilder on the conference call about potentially fighting the winner. "There are a lot of people that are involved in this. If it were just solely up to me then I’d be 1,000 percent confident, but it’s not just me. That’s what the fans want. I’ve been wanting to give the fans what they want my entire career. Unfortunately, I am one of those fighters that’s always getting the short end of the stick. I only can work with what I can work with.”
Wilder’s last outing yielded a fifth round TKO over Gerald Washington at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. Prior to that, Wilder gave veteran boxer, Chris Arreola a vicious eighth round KO where he suffered torn biceps and a broken hand. With the WBC stating that Wilder’s mandatory challenger is Bermane Stiverne, a rematch is likely on the horizon first for the unbeaten champion.
But the money fight is with the winner of this weekend’s bout.
“With Klitschko I definitely feel that the teachings of Emanuel Steward are lacking a little bit, but he’s not to blame," said Wilder. "Steward was a very, very smart trainer. The things that he could see and the things that he can get in the heads of the fighters, that was unbelievable. He wasn’t a great trainer for no reason and that’s when I thought Klitschko was the best, when he had Emanuel in his corner. Not only when he’s inside of the ring but when he’s on the outside too. Now, I just feel since he’s gone, it’s more about what Wladimir wants to do, not what his trainers see.”
“With Joshua, he’s got the height and he’s got the power," Wilder continued. "In the heavyweight division, you don’t need skills. As long as you have the power, that’s what makes up the heavyweight division. You’re in the game once you’ve got that power…. They’re going to have to play a forward fight to feel a little bit of each other out.”
Joshua, the 2012 gold medalist of his hometown London Games, wrested the IBF heavyweight belt dramatically from Charles “The Prince” Martin in 2016. Since then the British standout has been on the world’s stage and a win over Klitschko would solidify his claim to the future of the heavyweight division.
“There’s a lot of flaws that Joshua has, but Joshua is still young in the game as well," Wilder said. "A lot of people look at Joshua and they’re going off of his physique and they’re going off of the hype that their countryman has brought to them. If you really look deep down and soul search and look at his resume, with all of the guys he’s fought … that sometimes makes a person look busier than what he is. There’s a lot of flaws in all of us though, to be honest. Nobody will ever be perfect in the ring. We only try to be our best and that’s the only thing you should go off of.”
Wilder does have an opinion on who will win and how it will impact his life, the ramifications of which are detrimental not only to his personal career but to boxing.
“I’m going to continue with my statement as I’ve been saying it," Wilder said. "My heart is for Joshua, but my mind is for Klitschko. My heart is for Joshua because I would love to fight him – I think that would be a mega-fight. Even though Joshua is fighting Klitschko, people are still talking to this day about a Wilder and Joshua fight. It’s almost demanded. If this kid beats Klitschko it’s like the only fight he can have is me, because it’s been so demanded.”