By Keith Idec
Deontay Wilder won’t set foot inside Principality Stadium on Saturday night, let alone the ring.
Tim Smith, a spokesman for Premier Boxing Champions, confirmed to BoxingScene.com on Tuesday that Wilder won’t attend the Anthony Joshua-Joseph Parker heavyweight title unification fight in Cardiff, Wales. The unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion had planned to serve as a guest commentator for Sky Sports’ coverage of Joshua-Parker.
Wilder decided against making the transatlantic trip, however, once Joshua and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, made it clear that they had no interest in Wilder entering the ring to challenge Joshua if he defeats Parker.
Wilder wanted to put public pressure on Joshua to make their much-discussed showdown the next fight for both boxers. Hearn has mentioned Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) making his United States debut against Jarrell Miller in August at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, assuming the British superstar tops Parker (24-0, 18 KOs), the WBO champion.
Had Wilder traveled to Wales and adhered to the wishes of Joshua and Hearn, the trip might not have amounted to much more than a public face-off with Dillian Whyte. Hearn, who also promotes Whyte, wants Wilder to fight Whyte next and continue building toward a Joshua-Wilder fight.
Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) and his handlers believe waiting won’t make Joshua-Wilder much bigger than it already is and don’t want to continue waiting. The WBC could name Whyte the mandatory challenger for Wilder’s title.
Thus far, though, Wilder isn’t obligated to face Whyte, who’s the WBC’s No. 1 heavyweight contender. Whyte (23-1, 17 KOs) maintained his position by knocking out Australia’s Lucas Browne (25-1, 22 KOs) in the sixth round Saturday night at O2 Arena in London.
Wilder began leaning against attending Joshua-Parker once Joshua publicly stated that he didn’t want a WWE-like scenario to unfold following his fight against Parker (Sky Sports Box Office; Showtime).
“Yes, he’s more than welcome,” Joshua, the IBF/IBO/WBA champ, told Sky Sports recently regarding Wilder. “But the difference is – when Klitschko came over to watch me in Manchester [in December 2016], we had a signed deal. It was signed and sealed, provided I won [against Eric Molina].
“With Wilder, I’m just not into the hype. If he wants to come over, get in the ring and all that stuff – I just prefer it if he had a fight in place to talk about. Because if not, it’s just hype.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.