Deontay Wilder’s decision not to fight Anthony Joshua next is “embarrassing”, according to promoter Eddie Hearn.
Joshua’s hopes for an undisputed world heavyweight title fight were dashed when Wilder revealed that he would next defend his WBC belt against Luis Ortiz, who he first beat last year.
Joshua had previously called for “face to face” talks with Wilder, but must first get through his own defence against Andy Ruiz Jr on Sunday (AEST).
“It’s embarrassing,” said Joshua’s promoter Hearn. “Joshua said: ‘the only fight is Wilder, we should meet next week and get it done’.
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“Then Wilder says: ‘actually, I will fight Ortiz’.
“Why fight him instead of Joshua? That is really frustrating.
“The main man is Joshua but the fight that the world wants to see is Wilder. Unfortunately he is not giving the public what they want – or even talking about that fight, which is frustrating.”
Joshua’s immediate priority will be to retain his focus as his US debut approaches, with his IBF, WBA, and WBO belts on the line at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
“We have to focus on what we know is happening – Andy Ruiz Jr, making sure that [Joshua] gets the job done and continues to win,” said Hearn.
“Next week, if victorious, we will sit down and plan the future and book in an exciting fight for November or December.
“Joshua has got to do the business. We want to see destruction.”
The race to become Joshua’s second opponent of 2019 could now hot up. His longstanding rival Dillian Whyte, who first meets Oscar Rivas on July 20, is a contender.
Kubrat Pulev is his IBF mandatory challenger, and Oleksandr Usyk is also a threat.
“It looks like the WBO will make [Usyk] mandatory for Anthony Joshua,” Hearn has previously explained, also saying he expected that fight to come in 2020.
Michael Hunter, who won explosively last weekend, is also eager to force himself into the reckoning. He has called out Joshua, and also said he would first fight Whyte for the right to challenge the champion.
“Any chance that I can get, I’m taking it,” Hunter said. “I’m here, and I’m here to stay.”
Joshua can win a 23rd consecutive fight, and an eighth with a world title at stake, by dispatching Ruiz Jr. At Tuesday’s public workouts, he was relaxed when pondering his future options.
“Madison Square Garden? What’s next? Who knows,” said Joshua. “Maybe an international stadium. Maybe go to Africa in honour of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. The opportunities are crazy.
“Homegrown talent – Finchley to York Hall to The O2 to Wembley to the Garden. That’s where my grassroots talent stemmed from. I will always go back home.”
Joshua and his challenger Ruiz Jr will go face to face for the first time at Friday’s (AEST) press conference.