Anthony Joshua rubbishes claims he is ducking Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury heavyweight fights

Gareth A Davies
Not sweating on Deontay: AJ says he is raring to fight, but the deals aren't getting done - Getty Images Europe

Undefeated heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua says he is "ready anytime" to fight for the undisputed world title against WBC champion Deontay Wilder, and has warned the American and Tyson Fury that the longer they wait to fight him, the better he will get.

Joshua defends the WBA, IBF and WBO belts against late replacement and world ranked No 14 Andy Ruiz here on Saturday. He said that he was in "no way overlooking the challenge" of the 25/1 underdog Ruiz, defeated just once in 33 contests, but ahead of his United States debut at Madison Square Garden he insisted it is boxing fans who "are getting the hard end of the stick" as he faces Ruiz.

"The longer the other two [Wilder/Fury] wait, the worse for them because I’m just getting better," said Joshua, after landing in New York from a short training camp in Miami. "The big fights aren’t happening, but it’s not about me any more. It’s the fans who are being starved of it.

"It was all about me when Deontay Wilder started calling me out two years ago. Wilder looked like a crazy man calling me out, then Tyson Fury came back. And then nothing has happened. So now the fans are the ones getting the hard end of the stick."

Nor does Joshua have an answer, insisting that he shares the ennui of fight aficionados. "I don’t know why it’s not happening with all the talk. Figures are being thrown around, dates and venues. I feel sorry for the people who want to see it. It’s wasting a lot of time and each time I fight, I said it with Alexander Povetkin [his opponent last September], it’s another banana skin.

Heavy-weight problem: Mexico's Andy Ruiz Jr, left, is Anthony Joshua's uninspiring next assignment Credit: AP

"I’d rather have the biggest fights now rather than later. I don’t know what they are waiting for. They’re coming to the end of their careers, The longer they leave it – and I don’t think either of them are going to get much better – it will be worse for them. I’m not the finished article yet. I’m still improving, working on my skills, getting better all the time."

"I can’t understand why Wilder won’t fight. It’s not like I’m offering [to fight] because I think it’s easy. I want to challenge myself against the best, an opportunity to fight for all the belts. What more is there than all that? If it were me, five years from now and I had the opportunity to become the undisputed champion, where else am I going?"

Joshua believes Wilder’s team are stalling the fight. Yet there is an equivalent argument that the Briton’s promoters are doing the same. "I don’t think it’s Wilder, I think it’s the people around him. It should be spoken of more. I feel I get made an example of. ‘Joshua is ducking and dodging and doing this’. But if he does the same thing …"

Deontay Wilder made short work of Dominic Breazeale - but will he fight AJ? Credit: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

The American was offered a three-fight deal from digital broadcasters DAZN in the USA, understood to have been worth $100 million. Conversely, Joshua had been offered $50 million last year by Wilder’s promotional team. "He turned down double the amount to fight me and that was a real offer from a broadcaster," offered Joshua. "That wasn’t an email from Wilder, it was a real contract offer from a broadcaster offering Wilder the chance to fight on DAZN. A contract offering him a chance to fight on his own, one warm-up, and then me.

"And he could have fought me straightaway if he wanted, there was that option. It’s baffling why he didn’t take it after all the talk."

Joshua, one of the top three highest paid boxers in the world, questioned the greed at the top of the sport. "How much more money has to be on the table? Broadcasters run boxing. But we have had this situation before when fighters were with different broadcasters and still managed to fight."

But for now, Joshua’s head is back on the job at hand: creating a profile in the United States and building his unbeaten record. "I’ve done my learning. Now it’s time to stamp my name in history."