The two-time heavyweight world champion marked his return to the ring with a unanimous points win over Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena in April…
Anthony Joshua is ‘getting ready’ for a December showdown with Deontay Wilder in Saudi Arabia, believing the fight that has been building for seven years is close to being delivered.
The two-time heavyweight world champion marked his return to the ring with a unanimous points win over Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena in April, the first stage in a three-fight plan devised to return him to the summit of the division.
Those plans appeared to change shortly after the victory, however, with ‘AJ’ revealing just over a week later that he will not be out again until December.
Heavyweight boxing has been awash with rumours of a spectacular four-man tournament involving its biggest hitters; Joshua, Wilder, Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury. It has been suggested Joshua and Wilder could even fight on the same night Usyk and Fury finally meet for their undisputed title clash in a historic event for the sport.
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The 2012 Olympic gold medal winner has twice fought in Saudi Arabia, against Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019 and his rematch with Usyk last summer, with the region determined to become the new home of boxing. Their plans to bring four of its box office names all under the same roof are ambitious but very realistic, says Joshua.
‘From my experiences with Saudi, if they say they are going to do something, they are more than likely going to do it,’ Joshua told Metro.co.uk.
‘So that’s one end of it. And then you let the other guys [promoter Eddie Hearn, his management team] do what they do. But as the man behind the scenes, it is important to start getting ready.’
Joshua and Wilder have been on collision course since the former picked up his first world title in 2016, taking the IBF strap after flattening Charles Martin on one of the most celebrated nights in his career.
A year earlier, Wilder was crowned WBC champion, a belt he would successfully defend 10 times before Fury ended his reign in February 2020.
When Joshua became unified IBF, WBA and WBO champion in 2018, expectation for them to meet intensified but a deal was never struck. Despite both men losing their world titles since, the intrigue over one of the biggest fights in the sport remains.
‘He is good, I respect him, I don’t undermine him. That will make me raise my game,’ Joshua said of The Bronze Bomber. ‘I respect what he has done and what he has done in this division. It is hard to become a champion and he did it so I have to respect that.
‘It’s going to be a tough fight but I am confident in myself. I’m a better, more well-rounded athlete, a better, more well-rounded fighter.
‘In terms of it getting delivered [from my side], I honestly believe it is 95 per cent there.’
Joshua continued: ‘The money will always be there, it just depends on how much of it you want. I feel the fight will always generate an income and we all work for an income. Sometimes a lot of people, they sell themselves.
‘I don’t know, I wish we had got this fight on before years ago, it shouldn’t have taken the big offer to get it over the line. We have just got to want to fight. If you do good business outside of the ring you make money in the ring. But you have to want to fight regardless. It is not about the deal being right, that’s the wrong mindset.’
After back-to-back defeats to Usyk, the 33-year-old made another change to his corner ahead of the Franklin fight as he linked up with Derrick James, the only active trainer to count two unified world champions in his stable of fighters in Errol Spence Jr and Jermell Charlo.