Pressure is mounting on Anthony Joshua to meet the challenge of rival world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. This comes on the back of Wilder’s victory over the big punching Luis Ortiz in New York on Saturday.
Saturday night’s bout was by no means a faultless display, and in the seventh round Deontay Wilder looked on the verge of defeat, but once again he showed his ability to land concussive blows and leave the judges redundant.
Wilder turned on the power in the 10th round, and for the 39th time in 40 professional fights, his opponent succumbed. The 32-year-old from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, dropped Ortiz three times in all. Only Bermane Stiverne in January 2015 has taken him the distance in the professional ranks.
The Bronze Bomber’s demolition of Luis Ortiz in New York at the weekend has transformed him into the 4/5 favourite with Betway to be next in the ring with Joshua after AJ’s March 31 Cardiff attempt to add Joseph Parker’s WBO belt to his own WBA, IBF and IBO titles.
IBF-WBA champion Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs), 28, is the betting favourite to beat WBO titleholder Parker (24-0, 18 KOs), 26, at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on March 31.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has hinted at a preference for Joshua to bank one more outing before going against WBC champion Wilder in a war to find the first undisputed heavyweight king since Lennox Lewis.
The fight mirrored Joshua’s win over Wladimir Klitschko last year, when he thought he had finished the job after knocking his older opponent down in the fifth, only to endure a furious retaliation before stopping the champion in the 11th.
“I always said that I want to unify,” Wilder said. “I’m ready whenever those guys are. I am the baddest man on the planet and I proved that tonight. This solidified my position at the top of the food chain tonight.”
Wilder also dismissed the relevance of Joshua’s 11th-round win over 41-year-old Klitschko (64-5, 53 KOs) in London. Klitschko lost three titles in a huge upset to Joshua’s British rival Tyson Fury and had not fought for 17 months by the time he faced Joshua. Klitschko had reigned for almost a decade, but Wilder says Joshua faced the Ukrainian when he was past his best.
“When Wladimir fought Joshua he was already beaten, he wasn’t a king, he was already dethroned,” Wilder said.
“He was coming off nearly a two-year layoff. Really, Joshua didn’t win that fight, Wladimir lost that fight. He had three opportunities to get that guy out of there. He made the wrong decision at the wrong time, and it cost him.
“Luis Ortiz has got better skills; no one wanted to fight this guy.”