DEONTAY WILDER has accused Anthony Joshua of damaging the reputation of British boxing but says Tyson Fury has helped restore it by agreeing to face him this winter.

The Bronze Bomber was in Belfast this weekend to watch Fury’s 10-round shut-out victory over Francesco Pianeta from ringside at Windsor Park.

Having successfully negotiated what was his second fight since nearly
1,000 days in boxing exile, Fury is now set for a crack at Wilder’s WBC belt with a November date in Las Vegas expected to be formally announced soon.

The showdown, from which both men will earn a career-high payday, was only possible after Wilder failed to agree a four-belt unification with WBA, WBO and IBF champion Joshua despite lengthy talks this year.

And Wilder took a swipe at Joshua, who he describes as a ‘protected fighter’, for agreeing to take on mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin at Wembley on September 22.

Wilder says the $15m flat fee that he was offered to fight Joshua by promoter Eddie Hearn was a lowball, which clearly proved they did not want the fight to take place this year at all.

And the Alabama man, 40-0 with 39 inside the distance, says the whole saga has not reflected well on Team Joshua on his side of the Atlantic.

Wilder said: “It really put a sour taste in the mouth and it has really damaged his name. Not his career yet, because he still has the opportunity to turn it around, but his name? They have damaged that.

“Now he looks like a protected fighter – every bit of it, 100 per cent.
But it’s not too late for him.

“Tyson felt sorry for it – he felt sorry that people were laughing at the UK and they are. They are because of the big facade that they’ve built around Joshua.

“Then for him to let people down in that way, and not fight the best, it really put a sour taste in people’s mouths. Especially in America.

“At this point in time we’ve just moved on and we’ve got Fury. I think this is a much bigger fight than the Joshua fight if you ask me.

“Joshua only got his name off of beating [Wladimir] Klitschko, a guy that had already been beaten and coming off a two-year lay-off.

“That’s why Fury gets the credibility – he beat ‘the champ’. He took the belt from ‘the man’. That’s why he gets so much respect and credit from me.”

Wilder, leaning back on a leather chair in his hotel room overlooking Belfast’s Waterfront, also suggested that his high-profile encounter with Fury will be the envy of both Hearn and Joshua.

“Oh yes, keep talking about it, it feels good,” he smiled when asked about the Matchroom duo’s reaction to news of his potential fight with Fury.

“Even when the fight was announced they were already sceptical about it.
They didn’t think it was going to happen but me and Tyson talk personally and I was telling my team: ‘I really think he wants it – I can feel it.

“From the discussion we were having, and what he was saying – he’s a man of his word. The things that have happened to me trying to make a big fight, everybody could see what the situation was, at this point in time, people could see what was happening [with Joshua].

“How low can you think of a person to degrade a man of my stature and what I’ve done for this sport. No matter what you think of me, $15m and no percentage?

“When you gave a guy lower than me that has done nothing for the sport a percentage but you want to give the baddest man on the planet no percentage? It don’t get no clearer than that they don’t want the fight.”

Assuming he comes through unscathed against Povetkin, Joshua is set to return to Wembley Stadium on April 13 and the public clamour will be for him to face the winner of Wilder and Fury.

But the American does not expect that to be the case because he claims that Joshua’s coach Rob McCracken is resistant to the idea.

He said: “We already know they’re not fighting me. Eddie already revealed it, he slipped up and said it. It could be a while. We are going to continue to do our thing.

“Once I beat Fury, there are not any questions about who the man in the division is. If they continue to pick other people then god bless them.

“The thing is that Rob McCracken is not going to let him fight until Rob McCracken thinks he is ready. I heard that and I believe it.

“I believe it can happen but only through the power of the fans. I think he is going to have to be forced to do it. You guys, the fans over here have the power to do that. You’re doing that with the ticket sales now.

“This is just the beginning. Once I beat Fury and he is still avoiding me, this can’t be a lost cause. This can’t something that turns into Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe. I don’t want that. I know I’m the best, I just want to prove it.

“You can keep the belts, that ain’t going to define who I am. I don’t want to pay the sanction fees anyways. Me knowing that I beat everybody, that is all I need.”