Joshua vs Wilder: Who needs who most?Written by Joseph Herron
October 28, 2017 will mark the highly anticipated return of Heavyweight kingpin and British "rockstar" Anthony Joshua, as he defends his championship distinctions against perennial challenger and top rated contender Kubrat Pulev of Bulgaria.
The match-up is slated to be held at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, with a potential capacity of almost 80K seats.
After just one day upon being released to the general public, 70,000 tickets have already been purchased, cementing the Watford native as arguably the biggest global draw within the sport. And although the demand for the upcoming mandatory defense against Pulev remains extremely high, most critics, die-hards and casual observers anxiously await a massive unification bout between A.J. and the current WBC title holder, Deontay Wilder.
When asked whether or not the "Bronze Bomber" was on his 2018 radar, Joshua gave a resounding response.
"It could happen...the fight after Pulev," stated the current IBF and WBA Heavyweight champion to FightHype.com. "I have a mandatory with (Luis) Ortiz; but I feel like with Wilder, it's not a matter of if, it's just a matter of when."
Most interested fight fans have been waiting for the undefeated American champ to unify the weight class with one of the former glamour division's title holders since capturing the WBC strap in January of 2015. Wilder put forth an ostensive career best performance in unseating former WBC champion Bermane Stiverne at the MGM Grand Garden Arena by way of an impressive unanimous decision almost three years ago, and has seemingly faced lackluster opposition since.
Although he's remained undefeated in his respective campaign, the Alabama fan favorite has wins over Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas, Artur Szpilka, Cristobal Arreola and Gerald Washington...not exactly the creme of the Heavyweight crop.
Joshua believes a signature and career defining fight is what will inevitably force the long awaited match-up into a stark reality.
"Let's say if Wilder retired today, there's not that fight where you say 'that fight was phenomenal' and it was a stand-out fight. He's still waiting for that 'stand-out' fight. And it seems that they've pinned me up to be that guy. So he's waiting for me, and I'll get there sooner or later."
Despite outwardly showing a genuine interest in the desired pairing, Joshua is in the proverbial driver's seat in terms of leverage within the business end of a potential negotiation with Wilder and power manager Al Haymon.
While Wilder does indeed carry the WBC strap around his waist, the former Olympic Gold medalist doesn't really need to formulate a unification fight opposite a dangerous Heavyweight, like the unbeaten American, to further his career.
Joshua remains the biggest boxing draw in the UK and has already won a career defining scrap by way of knock-out against future Hall of Famer Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90K spectators earlier this year. With or without a unification effort against Deontay Wilder, Joshua will be a global superstar and one of the biggest moneymakers within the entire sport. So even though it seems the onus rests solely on the shoulders of the American hopeful to force the match-up, the 27 year old Briton assures boxing fans, as well as his yankee counterpart, that a massive "UK vs. USA" undertaking will inevitably happen sometime soon.
"So, Wilder...just be patient, and I hope you continue to win. I'll do my part so we can give everyone a great Heavyweight showdown."
The return of Anthony Joshua will take place on Saturday, October 28, 2017, with a limited number of tickets still on sale via StubHub.co.uk, ranging from £40, £60, £80, £100, £200 and £300.