LAS VEGAS – It went as you might imagine when Bob Arum was informed Wednesday that Eddie Hearn claimed recently that Anthony Joshua, not the winner of the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury rematch, should be recognized as the top heavyweight in the division.
The 88-year-old Arum, whose company co-promotes Fury, excoriated Joshua’s performances in both of his fights against Andy Ruiz Jr. last year. Arum’s Top Rank Inc. promoted Ruiz for most of his career, which was why Ruiz’s huge upset of Joshua last June 1 stunned Arum.
“Any fighter that loses, not only loses, but gets knocked out by Andy Ruiz, who at best is a slightly above-average heavyweight, is not an elite fighter – period,” Arum emphatically told a small group of reporters following the final Wilder-Fury press conference at MGM Grand. “And then, secondly, when Andy Ruiz goes into the second fight obese – obese, not even really having trained – [and Joshua] doesn’t knock the guy out and destroy him, instead dances around for 12 rounds, [he] is not an elite fighter.”
Arum referred to Joshua’s safe strategy in their 12-round rematch. The British superstar clearly out-pointed an out-of-shape Ruiz, but the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO champ fought cautiously for much of that bout December 7 in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
Nevertheless, Joshua won by wide margins on all three scorecards and avenged his seventh-round, technical-knockout defeat to Ruiz six months earlier at Madison Square Garden in New York. Judge Steve Gray scored 11 of those 12 rounds for Joshua, who won 10 rounds apiece on the cards of judges Glenn Feldman and Benoit Roussel.
Arum anticipates that the 6-feet-6, 245-pound Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) will approach the rest of his fights as carefully as he did his rematch versus Ruiz (33-2, 22 KOs).
“I think Joshua will fight all the rest of his fights in his career scared,” Arum said. “And you know what happens to scared fighters.”
Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) and Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) spent almost an hour, throughout their press conference Wednesday, trying to prove that they’re not in any way scared of each other. They’ll fight for Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title Saturday night in a highly anticipated rematch ESPN and FOX Sports will co-distribute as the main event of a four-fight pay-per-view show from MGM Grand Garden Arena (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT; $79.99 in HD).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.