Why Deontay Wilder is picking Joseph Parker over Anthony Joshua

Kevin IoleCombat columnist
WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder won’t be attending the Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph  Parker fight in Wales on Saturday. (Getty)
WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder won’t be attending the Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker fight in Wales on Saturday. (Getty)

Deontay Wilder won’t be in Cardiff, Wales, on Saturday, because while his name should be the first to come out of the mouth of the winner of the heavyweight title unification match between Anthony Joshua andJoseph Parker, it probably won’t be.

Wilder is the WBC champion and is the logical next opponent for the winner between IBF-WBA champion Joshua and WBO king Parker. This sets up the unprecedented situation of a potential winner-takes-all series between three men with perfect records and a legitimate claim to the heavyweight title.

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But Wilder, who scored a dramatic knockout of Luis Ortiz in March, won’t be ringside in Wales because the name he’s likely to hear will be Dillian Whyte, not his

“I don’t get what is so hard about stepping up and fighting me,” Wilder told Yahoo Sports.

The pressure on the winner, particularly if it is Joshua, to fight Wilder will be enormous, as media and fans around the world will clamor for the fight.

Wilder, though, isn’t happy with Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn, who keeps insisting that Wilder face Whyte next. Whyte is 23-1 with 17 KOs, his only loss coming to Joshua in 2015.

If Joshua wins, there is no reason for him to fight anyone but Wilder next, in what will be a mega-event.

But while Joshua is sure to be interested in Wilder, should he win, Hearn may want to delay it. That would give him an additional payday, since he also promotes Whyte, and would allow heat to build to a frenzy for the Joshua-Wilder bout.

It would be clean and clear should the fighters get their way and the winner meets Wilder for the undisputed belt, given the records of the men and how badly the public would want to see Wilder against the winner. Joshua is 20-0 with 20 knockouts, while Parker is 24-0 with 18 KOs. Wilder is 40-0 with 39 knockouts, giving the trio of champions a combined mark of 84-0 with 77 knockouts.

Wilder didn’t want to make a pick, but lent his support to Parker, largely because Parker isn’t promoted by Hearn. Hearn has been regularly tweaking Wilder promoter Lou DiBella and co-manager Shelly Finkel.

“I’m favoring Parker because I’m sick of Eddie Hearn and his tactics and dodging me and not wanting to fight,” Wilder said. “They’re messing up this sport. A lot of people think it’s good that he’s selling out arenas and that is good. It’s real good. But at the end of the day, you have to get off your high horse and get back to making the best fight the best. We know Joshua hasn’t fought the best of the best. And we know that if he really wants to unify the division, there is only one man he has to go through if he wants to boost his stock and that’s me.

“If he’s just fighting for the money, OK, then I get that. But with me, it’s about being the best. And look, you have to realize this: The money and being the best go hand in hand. If you go out there and you fight the best and you take care of business, the money is going to come. But I think they’re just trying to fool these British fans.”

Saturday’s bout matches two huge men. Joshua is 6-6 and will come in weighing around 245. Parker is 6-4 and will most likely be in the 230s. But because Joshua has a six-inch reach advantage, that will impact the way the fight is contested, Wilder said.

He can’t allow Parker to crowd him and take away his punching room.

“What Joshua has to do to beat Parker is basically to keep him at distance and not let him get in, because he’s the taller fighter,” Wilder said. “Sometimes tall fighters have problems with smaller guys when they work their way inside, because they don’t know how to handle that. So, Joshua has to keep Parker out at the end of his punches. Joshua also needs to be smart about what he throws. Joseph Parker likes to counter, and he is fast and can move a little. So, Joshua has to be aware of what he’s throwing and not walk into a trap that Parker has laid for him.”

On the flip side, Wilder believes Parker has to show he can take a punch and can time Joshua to counter him.

It’s easy in theory, but Joshua is fast, too, and a huge hitter, so it’s no sure thing.

“Joshua likes to throw combinations and he does hit hard, so Parker has to rely on timing to be able to get his counters off,” Wilder said. “The only thing about that is, when a guy is throwing combinations and you get in there and you maybe decide to take one to give one, and that can be dangerous. Joseph has to show he can handle being hit by a guy like Joshua.”

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