By Lem Satterfield
Anthony Joshua was ringside on Saturday at New York’s Madison Square Garden as Canelo Alvarez’s four-knockdown, third-round KO dethroned his English countryman Rocky Fielding as WBA “regular” champion, earning Alvarez’s third crown in as many divisions while retaining his pair of 160-pound titles.
But the IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion was not present two weeks earlier at The Staples Center in Los Angeles, where WBC counterpart Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) scored two-knockdowns during a draw with lineal champion Tyson Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) on Showtime Pay-Per-View.
“Anthony Joshua don’t want to show or prove to the world that he’s the best," said Wilder to BoxingScene.com. "He just wants to walk around faking it, coming over here and making excuses, trying to save face by acting like they really wanna fight."
On the undercard, 6-foot-4 Luis Ortiz (30-0, 26KOs) produced three knockdowns during a 10th-round knockout of Travis Kauffman, representing the Cuban southpaw’s second straight stoppage since falling to Wilder by three-knockdown, 10th-TKO in March.
“King Kong” Ortiz scored a second-round stoppage of Razvan Cajanu to rebound from a three-knockdown, 10th-round stoppage loss in March to the 6-foot-7 "Bronze Bomber" (40-0, 39 KOs), whom Ortiz had badly hurt in the seventh round.
Cajanu had lost his previous fight in May 2017 by unanimous decision to then-unbeaten WBO titlist Joseph Parker, loser of his WBO crown in March by unanimous decision to the 6-foot-6 Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) in England.
“If Anthony Joshua really wanted to fight me, why wouldn’t he come to my fight and try to fight the winner next? Why would Anthony Joshua go to a non-heavyweight fight, but [two weeks earlier] you couldn’t come to the biggest heavyweight championship fight in the world?” said Wilder, who floored the 6-foot-9 “Gypsy King” once each in the ninth and 12th-rounds but failed to produce his eighth straight knockout in as many defenses.
“It’s really a shame that Anthony Joshua didn't come over and make his presence known to the American audience [in the same arena] where the three best heavyweights were fighting, take advantage of an opportunity to be there and call out any one of us. That would show he wanted to fight. But if he really wanted to fight any of us, he would have been there, but he declined. That just shows you what type of character Joshua has.”
Wilder was ringside in April 2017 at London’s Wembley Stadium as Joshua stopped 41-year-old Wladimir Klitschko, rising from the deck in the sixth and scoring knockdowns in the fifth and final rounds of his third defense and 11th-round TKO victory.
Joshua’s triumph occurred 17 months after a 39-year-old Klitschko was dethroned by 30-year-old Fury, whose unanimous decision ended Klitschko's 11 ½-year reign at at 22-0 (15 KOs) and made Fury the lineal and IBF/WBA/WBO champion.
Much of Joshua’s claims to supremacy stem from defeating Klitschko, but Wilder insists the division’s top three were at The Staples Center on December 1. The absence of Joshua, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, indicates the unified champion’s reluctance to face America-side criticism or meet any of the trio face-to-face or in the ring.
“AJ should 1,000 percent be here at ringside. With three of the best heavyweight fighting in the same arena on Saturday night, he should absolutely be there,” said Ortiz, 39, before their fights.
“I believe that [Joshua’s] saving face and that he’s scared. I don’t think Joshua wants to [face his critics] and deal with the questions from the public and the media regarding his [legitimacy] as a champion.”
Wilder-Fury was made immediately after Wilder-Joshua negotiations failed in June according to “The Bronze Bomber” and his co-manager, Shelly Finkel, who were offered a two-fight unification deal from “AJ’s” promoter, Eddie Hearn, in the weeks leading up to Wilder-Fury.
In a related development, Joshua stated recently that he agreed with Wilder’s claim that he’s “begging” to fight after their failed negotiations.
“There’s no ducking. I’m willing to fight,” Joshua told iFL TV, according to an earlier report on BoxingSene.com. “Begging? Yeah I am begging. I want to become undisputed champion of the world. I’m hungry for it, so yeah I am begging.”
But Wilder and Fury believe the notoriety each has gained from their clash has raised each of their stocks above that of Joshua. Wilder wants a return bout with Fury, which already has WBC's blessing, even as Hearn is hopeful of staging a Joshua-Wilder bout in April.
“The fight on Saturday meant a lot to me, and if I have the choice between Fury or Joshua? Tyson Fury, nine times out of 10,” said Wilder, during a video interview produced by Premier Boxing Champions. “It’s definitely Fury…This fight we had on Saturday was so controversial that it’s gotta happen again and it’s gotta happen immediately. I’m willing and able to give him a rematch immediately, and he deserves it.”
Meanwhile, Joshua's expected to be ringside on December 22 at The O2 Arena in London for a rematch of heavyweight title challenger Dillian Whyte’s split-decision over Dereck Chisora in December 2016.
“Anthony Joshua doesn’t want to answer hard questions. He wants the not so dangerous questions. He wants to deal with those reporters that will eat cheese with him and be real nice and ask soft questions," said Wilder.
"Joshua needs his promoter, Eddie Hearn, every step of the way or else he don’t know what to say because they’re contradicting each other all the time. But they’re no longer being talked about, and people are putting the backburner. We don’t have time for their games anymore, so they’re trying to do damage control, now, but no one is buying it anymore.”