THE Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder saga, after something of a lull in recent weeks, will likely gather pace again if Joshua successfully defends his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles against Alexander Povetkin this weekend at Wembley Stadium.
Wilder, the WBC champion, is expected to defend his belt against Tyson Fury in a fascinating showdown likely to be formally announced in the next week. The whole of the boxing world would like the winners of the two heavyweight showdowns to meet next year.
But, according to WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, Joshua vs Wilder would have happened by now if Joshua had been “more patient”.
Joshua was charging up the WBC rankings when he challenged IBF champion Charles Martin in April 2016. Sulaiman viewed Martin as a champion by default following his inconclusive victory over Vyacheslav Glazkov that culminated with the Ukrainian unable to continue due to a who was unable to continue after injuring his knee in the third round. That forgettable bout occurred because Tyson Fury – who had dethroned Wladimir Klitschko – was stripped of the title because he initially agreed to give the Ukrainian a return rather than facing No. 1 contender, Glazkov.
“Charles Martin became IBF champion when he had a fight and the other guy fell and broke his knee or whatever,” Sulaiman told Boxing News. “And then Joshua gets the opportunity to fight for that title. So I’m happy for Joshua, he got a very easy way to the championship, but he’s a great champion. He was the WBC No.2 challenger. Had he have been more patient, he would have challenged Wilder as the mandatory contender maybe two years or a year ago. But we understand the times, and we believe that the biggest fight in the division – and perhaps the whole of boxing – would be Wilder-Joshua.”
Sulaiman is looking forward to Wilder-Fury before that, reported to be early December in Las Vegas, but he insists there is only so much he can do to ensure the winner of that bout meets the victor of Joshua-Povetkin.
“Absolutely, we want to see that next, but there are certain limits about what we can do, we’re not promoters,” Sulaiman said before again suggesting Joshua should have fought Wilder by now. “That responsibility falls with the promoters. There was a big offer made to Joshua to fight in the United States but he wants the fight to be in the UK so it’s a promotional thing that only they can solve.
“We can go as far as having all the flexibility and making all the decisions to allow the fight to happen, but if they don’t close the deal, there’s nothing we can do.”
The WBC heavyweight title has not been involved in a unified championship bout since Lennox Lewis defeated Mike Tyson to also defend his IBF strap 16 years ago. And you have to go back to 1999, when Lewis outscored WBA and IBF champion Evander Holyfield in a rematch, for the last time when the WBC was involved in a heavyweight unification showdown.
Sulaiman insists that heavyweight unification is not important.
“There’s no need,” he said. “The WBC is the WBC. We’re happy to unify, we’re happy to participate, but there’s no doubt that the WBC champion is the true world champion. There’s no doubt that the WBC is the only organisation that does many things outside the ring to enhance the sport, to make it better and to make it safer.
“So in regards to unification, if it doesn’t happen, I have absolutely no concern because the WBC champion is the world champion.”