Is Anthony Joshua Actually Afraid Of Deontay Wilder?



Is Anthony Joshua Actually Afraid Of Deontay Wilder?

That Anthony Joshua effort against Joseph Parker drew a wide range of takes. A lot maybe had to do with where you live.

AJ fans in regions nearer to his home-base probably liked the very measured, structured, risk-free scrap.

Fight fans in the US, and folks who’ve been digging the last couple Deontay Wilder fights, his obliteration of Bermane Stiverne and his comeback from drowning in deep waters effort against Luis Ortiz, they haven’t been as kind in their critique of the AJ win in Cardiff.

Me, I started out appreciating the committment to the game-plan against Parker. Still do; but what’s with that anemic volume? C’mon now, less than 400 punches thrown?

Wilders’ fights are promoted by Lou Dibella..

..and the NY-based promoter went on the Randy Gordon/Gerry Cooney Sirius/XM show “At The Fights” Monday to give his take on the AJ win, and what it maybe means for a Joshua vs. Wilder scrap.

The hosts of the show produced by Josh Friedman went right to it. Does Lou think that Joshua and company are AFRAID to fight Wilder:

“I think when everyone around you is afraid, it’s gonna make you think too,” DiBella answered.  “Do I think he’s afraid? Justifiably. I gotta be honest with you – I saw a lot of stuff in that Parker fight that I think a lot of other people saw, particularly people on the other side of the pond and are hesitant to talk about. Even though he clearly won the fight, I saw a guy that clearly didn’t want to take a risk. I saw a guy who didn’t want to engage. Parker has a decent jab and is a good fighter; better boxer than a lot of people thought but not a huge puncher. I didn’t see Anthony Joshua taking any chances in that fight at all. And in fact, I saw Anthony Joshua get buzzed by Joseph Parker and then pull his own tape off his glove to create his own timeout, and I gotta be honest with you, that made me lose a little bit of respect.”

I don’t think DiBella is alone in that. There was lots of Twitter chatter directing abuse at referee Giuseppe Quartarone, who many said seemed intent on being a shadow for Wilder, there to bail him out should he get into danger.

Now, do we think AJ personally picked that ref, and directed him to help make Parker less fearsome? No way. But that’s how a lot of people saw the dynamic in Cardiff, and that’s a bad look. The heavyweight champion of the world, the guy acknowledged to be the Baddest Man on the Planet, he can’t be seen as needing a posse, helpers to intervene on his behalf. (Indeed, Wilder had Twitter scorn heaped on him when some people took issue with a NY commission doc taking Wilder aside for an extra assessment, right after he got buzzed badly, and already received a minute rest in between rounds. It’s not a good look for anyone holding a heavyweight strap.)

Oh, and by the way, that headline is a provocateur. DiBella wouldn’t even hint that AJ is afraid, like, lacking courage afraid, of Wilder. “In boxing ‘afraid’ is a business decision. It’s not necessarily a lack of courage, it’s a risk/reward analysis,” the promoter told me, late Monday night.

What say you? Does Team Joshua want to make marination money, grow the $ pot for a Joshua-Wilder fight, by kicking the can down the road? Or is DiBella right, do those AJ peeps in the know really fear that Wilder power, and aren’t as keen as they’ve stated to be tested by the Alabama slammer?

Founder/editor Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the then-impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist has covered the sport since for ESPN The Magazine,, Bad Left Hook and RING. His journalism career started with NY Newsday in 1999. Michael Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live, since 2017.