THE wait for Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder would stretch for another two years if it was left up to the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion. The British heavyweight’s promoter, meanwhile, has warned both fighters that the longer they wait to fight, the more likely it is one of them will lose.

Joshua, 29, defends his titles against huge underdog Andy Ruiz Jnr on Saturday night in New York and there was hope, although only a glimmer, that the Englishman’s next opponent would be the WBC heavyweight boss.

But on Tuesday evening, Alabama’s Wilder – who two weeks ago knocked out Dominic Beazeale in one round – ruled himself out of the contest everyone wants to see when he announced on social media that his next bout will be a rematch against Luis Ortiz. It is likely to take place in September with both Los Angeles and Las Vegas being considered to host.

Deontay Wilder
THRILLER: Wilder gets the better of Ortiz in their first fight

“If it wasn’t for the pressure from which I can’t hide like he can, I could be fighting Joe Bloggs, I could be fighting anyone,” Joshua said.

Some suggested that the timing of Wilder’s announcement was designed to steal the attention away from Joshua’s American debut this weekend but a desire to simply create some distance from the incessant links with “AJ” may also have been a factor. Either way, at least we can stop talking about Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder for a while.

Joshua is happy to wait for the 33-year-old.

“Believe me, I’d rather fight Wilder in two years because I know I’ll get better,” he explained. “Imagine two years ago, when I was fighting Charles Martin [for the IBF title] then a few months before that I was fighting Dillian [Whyte].

“Compare the type of fighter I was then to where I’ve got to now in terms of experience. So then imagine in another two years fighting Wilder.”

Anthony Joshua
GETTING BETTER: Joshua believes he is still improving as a fighter

Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, believes Joshua-Wilder will be among the biggest in history if and when it eventually happens.

“The truth is, the longer it lasts while they remain undefeated the bigger it will be,” Hearn told Boxing News. “But you can’t get greedy because one of them will lose. Say Wilder gets chinned by Ortiz, or Joshua loses to Ruiz, it’s like ‘f**k’. How greedy do you want to be?”

In recent bouts, both Joshua and Wilder were warned that they’re not invincible. Wilder clung to his title in December after a controversial draw with Tyson Fury while Alexander Povetkin had his moments in the early going of his seventh-round loss to Joshua three months before.

“We’ve got away with it really because we were supposed to do this [Joshua-Wilder] last September. Now you’ve had the Fury fight, Wilder could have easily lost that fight, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. He’s since fought Breazeale and Joshua had that tough fight against Povetkin. But the good news is, the fight is twice as big now, as it was then.

“So the Wilder team will now say, ‘It will be even bigger next year.’ They might be right, but do we all really want to gamble on that?”