By Alex Wood, courtesy of The Daily Star
ANTHONY JOSHUA will face his biggest test against Deontay Wilder.
That’s according to former IBF middleweight champion Darren Barker who says the Brit boxing star faces a real battle against the 32-year-old.
The blockbuster clash is widely expected to happen in 2018 with Joshua's promoter, Eddie Hearn, flying to New York last week to meet with Wilder’s team.
Barker hung up his gloves in 2013 and has now opened 12x3 gym in Aldgate with co-founder Ryan Pickard.
And the retired ace says all boxing fans are buzzing for a Joshua v Wilder battle.
“It’s the biggest fight in the heavyweight division - no doubt,” Barker exclusively told Starsport.
“It’ll be a different matter if Fury comes back, but right at this present moment the biggest fight is Joshua v Wilder.
“As a boxing fan, I’d love to see it. It’s a stadium filer - a real blockbuster.”
Wilder has been around the block and is four years older than Joshua.
However, the The Bronze Bomber is undefeated in 39 professional bouts and has a notoriously wild style.
He battered Bermane Stiverne earlier this month and floored the veteran fighter within the first round.
Barker says Wilder’s unconventional fighting style could cause Joshua issues.
“In all fairness I think his awkwardness and how unorthodox he is has been a key to his success,” Barker added.
“He is wild, shots come from all over the place. But boy, he can whack.
“You get these wild swings from outside your eye line, it’s hard to continuously defend those sort of shots.
“But Joshua is well schooled and it’ll difficult for Wilder to compete against Joshua’s skill set.
“The key for him is to be awkward, unorthodox and try and hit him Joshua a big shot.”
Joshua defeated Carlos Takam in his last fight on October 28.
The Watford lad made hard work of the Cameroonian who was drafted in at late notice after Kubrat Pulev pulled out of fighting Joshua due to injury.
Barker says it’s tough for boxers when their opponent is changed, though.
“It’s always hard when you’re training for a particular fighter and they pull out at short notice,” said Barker.
“It was tough on Joshua when there’s big pressure on him.
“Takam, on the flip side, had no pressure whatsoever - no one expected him to go 10 rounds.
“Joshua nevertheless got the win. Takam was no easy ride, he’s a tough durable opponent who on his day is capable of an upset.
“Joshua didn’t put a foot wrong. He was up against a guy who’s quite mobile and moving lot but still got the job done.”
The bout was stopped controversially in the 10th round with Takam bleeding heavily from above his right eye.
Joshua was clearly ahead on points when referee Phil Edwards intervened, but Barker says he wanted the clash to continue.
“I would have liked to have seen the referee keep it going,” he explained.
“If you’re going to stop the fight do it early on after he got the second cut and was taking punishment.
“Don’t let it go 10 rounds and then stop it. But the referee is closest to the action and he thought the stoppage was right.
“It would have been nice to see Takam reach the final bell though because it was a very brave effort.”