By: Sean Crose
“I don’t think they want the fight,” world welterweight champion turned top trainer Mark Breland told me earlier this summer. “When Joshua fights, he doesn’t talk.” The Joshua Breland was referring to, of course, was heavyweight multi-titlist Anthony Joshua, who holds every major belt in the division except for the WBCs famed green strap. That particular item is in the possession of the man Breland works with, Deontay Wilder, an individual who has been calling Joshua out for ages. That highly anticipated fight still hasn’t been made. What’s more, Joshua, unlike Wilder, “doesn’t talk” much about chomping at the bit to face his championship counterpart, leaving many to think – fairly or not – that the man isn’t interested in facing Wilder at the moment.
When we spoke in June, Breland made it clear he felt Joshua, who has defeated former long reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko in thrilling fashion, is content taking his time on the matter. “Eventually,” he told me, “they’re going to have to fight.” Breland indicated, however, that he doubted “it’s going to happen any time soon.” Breland also pointed out that Joshua was living high at the moment. “He doesn’t need Deontay,” Breland said of team Wilder’s mindset. “Deontay needs him.” How times change. Former heavyweight champ Tyson Fury, who wrested the title away from Klitschko in 2015, has come back to the ring after some hard times and is now set for a heavyweight superfight – against Wilder, not Joshua. No doubt it must seem strange to Joshua that the biggest heavyweight fight right now is between Wilder and Fury, a man who has dismissively referred to Joshua as “the other chump.”
Yet when we spoke on Sunday, Breland himself noted the strangeness of the sudden turn of events. “A little bit,” he said after I asked if he was surprised his fighter would soon be facing Fury in the ring. Wilder-Fury is a huge risk for both men, as a fight with Joshua would probably bring each fighter more money and accolades. As Wilder said over the weekend, though: “This is what we’ve been waiting for…the best fighting the best.” Wilder will have a challenge for himself when he faces Fury (the date and location of the match will be announced this week). Standing at almost six feet, nine inches in height, the Englishman can be incredibly – and surprisingly – slick.
“There’s going to be a slight difference,” Breland said of Wilder’s training camp this time, “because Tyson is tall.” Wilder, he says, will “just have to adjust to someone taller.” Breland, who was a gold medal Olympian, as well as a professional world titlist, still isn’t impressed with how Joshua is handling his career. “I’ve been in boxing for a long time,” he told me. “When you’re a champion…normally you have to face the (top) person whose up next.” Joshua’s next bout will be on September 22nd, when he faces Alexander Povetkin, a top challenger, but not a current or former titlist.