It would better suit Deontay Wilder’s plan to eventually fight Anthony Joshua if Joshua were to impressively avenge his loss to Andy Ruiz Jr.
If England’s Joshua were to win their immediate rematch, it would mark the first significant step toward rebuilding the former heavyweight champion’s image and getting him back on track for a showdown with the undefeated Wilder. Theirs was the biggest fight that could’ve been made among active boxers before Ruiz ruined it by dropping Joshua four times and stopping him in the seventh round of their June 1 fight at Madison Square Garden in New York.
As they head toward their training camps for their rematch December 7 in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, Wilder completely disagrees with odds-makers who’ve installed Joshua as a 3-1 favorite.
The unbeaten WBC champion senses Ruiz will stop Joshua again in their second bout. Wilder feels the 29-year-old Joshua just doesn’t have the required confidence to overcome everything that happened to him that nightmarish night three months ago and regain the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO championships from Ruiz.
Wilder, who’s headed for his own rematch against Luis Ortiz on November 23 in Las Vegas, explained to BoxingScene.com during an interview Friday what he feels is missing from Joshua’s mindset now that he has been dethroned.
“I expect Ruiz to win this one again,” said Wilder, who believes Joshua quit in the seventh round of his loss to Ruiz. “Joshua doesn’t really have the confidence he needs. I’ll know when the bell rings, but he’ll have to convince me that he wants it. Joshua always had a weak mindset – always. And you can’t train for a mindset. Either you’ve got it or you don’t. Either you believe in yourself or you won’t. Either you know you’ve got the goods or you don’t. It ain’t no guessing. It ain’t asking no questions. No, f*** that! You got it or you don’t. This is a gladiator sport. And if you don’t have it, you don’t belong in this sport. It ain’t no room for weakness in this sport, especially when you’re a champion, because you’ll always be a target. You’re always gonna have a bullseye on your back. So, you’ve gotta have a mentality like that. It’s good to be nice and kind, and sh*t like that. But when it comes to boxing, you can’t show no weakness. You’ve gotta show that you’re a savage, that you ain’t nothing to be messed with, and that’s what I show. Put fear in these guys’ hearts, and really mean it.
“So, when it’s time for it to happen, it’s like, ‘Bro, this ain’t no promotion. I meant every word that I said. No matter how harsh it was, I meant that.’ And if you’re up for the challenge, to see if you can receive it, then be my guest. I shall deliver it to you. If you ask, you shall receive. He’s not like that. Joshua’s not built like I wouldn’t even say me, because ain’t nobody built like me. I’m just a different breed in this sport. I just different have a different mentality. Everything about me is different. But, you know, he don’t have enough confidence. And going into this second fight, he don’t even know how he lost. He don’t know what’s going on. He’s depending on the words from people on the outside to motivate him and tell him, ‘This, this and that.’ ”
Joshua admitted during the recently concluded, three-day, three-country press tour to promote his rematch with Ruiz that he has had to make some alterations to his body, his training regimen and even his lifestyle to become better prepared to beat Ruiz this time around. The British superstar was far from fully focused on Ruiz once the docile Ruiz replaced trash-talking Jarrell Miller because Miller tested positive for three performance-enhancing drugs.
Wilder realizes Joshua spent a lot of time talking about boxing him during the weeks leading up to the first Ruiz fight. The Alabama-based knockout artist doesn’t think Joshua’s preoccupation with him was the only thing that led to Ruiz scoring one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, but he’s sure Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) will be completely focused on Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) before their rematch.
“Who knows? Maybe he’s got it together,” Wilder said regarding Joshua. “Maybe he’s gonna go in there and knock Ruiz out. Maybe he’ll win. You know, there’s a lot of maybes. But I’m just going off of what I’ve seen in the first fight. And just a few months, it’s not gonna correct that. In my mind, a few months is not gonna correct what happened to him that night. Him focusing on me was just a small part of that situation. That’s a small part. I don’t wanna hear about, ‘Oh, I lost focus.’
“Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah. Who am I? If you leave it up to Eddie Hearn and them, I’m nobody. Who am I? Why worry about me? That don’t even make no sense. But we’re gonna see. I don’t think he’s ready for that rematch, but I wish them both luck because I’m still looking to fight both of them, regardless, especially if they stay at the top of the rankings. So, may the best man win in the rematch, and I wish them both great health in the fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.