WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has claimed America does not even know the name of Anthony Joshua and believes ‘AJ’ will never become a global icon without facing him.
Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) makes a seventh defence of his belt against Luis “King Kong” Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs) March 3 at Barclays Center in New York, but a unification bout with Joshua is the fight he craves.
Joshua has hinted that he might never need to fight in the U.S. during his career, but Wilder has taunted the WBA and IBO heavyweight title-holder as a UK-only champion — and insists the two of them need each other.
“He may have his country behind him and that’s it,” Wilder told ESPN. “Does he want to be remembered as a country-wide champion? Because he’s not worldwide [champion]. Over here in America they don’t even know his name. They just know him as a big guy from England. That’s fact.
“I need him and he needs me at the end of the day, unless he doesn’t want to unify. Unless he wants to stay over his side of the pond and let people gravitate to him and be a fake sign of what he [says he] is. But he will never be a global icon. You will never be a world-wide figure without me. All roads lead to Deontay Wilder.”
Wilder admits it is a similar case with his name being circulated in the UK through Joshua, but a potential matchup is still some way off. Wilder says it was “laughable” that Hearn came to the U.S. late last year without even making an offer to fight Joshua, in what he described as “stalling” tactics.
“Everybody wants to see the fight,” said Wilder. “The only people that don’t are his promoters. They already know how big of a risk this really is. They should be worried but how long do they really think the public, the fans of boxing are going to allow them to stay away from me? This is the biggest fight in our era.”
Wilder is adamant he will “take care of business” against Ortiz and hopes Joshua can do “his part” in defeating Joseph Parker on March 31 in Cardiff to set up a winner-takes-all unification fight.
“I am the most exciting, most entertaining fighter in the heavyweight division,” added Wilder. “Nobody in the heavyweight division is doing what I am doing. Nobody in history is doing what I am doing.
“If they feel that they want to unify, then, hey, you must go through me. All roads lead to Deontay Wilder because I am going nowhere, no time soon.”