Anthony Joshua is the present and future of heavyweight boxing and anyone who contends that statement needs to re-evaluate their thought process. He has the look, the marketability and most importantly the skills necessary to be the king of this division – but for some reason, he’s a bit too reliant on home comforts right now.
Having come off the back of that iconic victory at Wembley in April, it makes sense that AJ would want to consolidate his position atop the heavyweight kingdom. Plus, and this needs to be remembered, the looming threat of the ridiculous ‘mandatory challenger’ stipulation means that another big-time fight on home soil made sense for him this time around.
But when we put the upcoming clash with Carlos Takam in Cardiff aside for a second, we start to see a much more interesting picture. For those of you who aren’t aware, American Deontay Wilder is considered to be one of the top-ranked heavyweights in the world alongside Joshua and the absent Tyson Fury.
So because of that, speculation has been running rampant regarding Joshua and Wilder squaring off in a ‘unification’ fight of sorts, but as time has gone on it’s become more and more evident that AJ isn’t all too keen on the idea on travelling to the States for the fight.
If it's done right, Joshua-Wilder will be enormous. That doesn't mean that it'll be anything other than one of Joshua's very easiest fights.
— Tom Craze (@TomCraze) October 12, 2017
Now from a logical standpoint, it would make sense for Joshua to push for the fight to take place in his own backyard. However, as we’ve seen many times before, the best way in which a British boxer can test himself is by making the trip Stateside in order to see how you fare by comparison.
It allows a boxer to get themselves out of their own comfort zone, and into an arena or stadium in which they won’t be considered as the favourite. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you could argue that Wilder is far too eager to fight in Alabama, as he has done consistently as of late, but it’s Joshua who needs evaluating.
AJ has been bringing up Tyson Fury at every available opportunity when it comes to looking towards the future, and Eddie Hearn probably plays a big role in that. After all, Eddie is going to want to keep things local and another big payday at Wembley Stadium would certainly break all kinds of records.
Then you have the judges factor to consider as a possible reason behind Joshua’s hesitancy, and whilst that shouldn’t even remotely come into play, it would be a worry given that we’ve seen some truly horrendous decisions in the last twelve months.
GGG vs Canelo springs to mind right off the bat.
Plus, we’ve never really seen Joshua go into the unfamiliar territory before. As we know the atmosphere created on any given night can totally swing a fight in the direction of the favourite, and that’s a statistic that rings particularly true given that all 19 of Joshua’s professional bouts have taken place on the British Isles.
Deontay Wilder calls Anthony Joshua a coward and sends chilling warning to the heavyweight division https://t.co/A25y6KszCY
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) October 12, 2017
Maybe being an underdog who could potentially be booed out of the building is something that weighs on his shoulders, but it really shouldn’t. The true sign of a champion is someone who is willing to step outside of their domain and expand their horizons, and if AJ is the one to make the first move instead of Wilder then fans and critics alike will instantly start to get behind the Englishman even more so than usual.
We aren’t trying to suggest that he’s ‘scared’ or anything like that, because a lot of these reasons are extremely valid when you think about it. Unfortunately, the general public may not choose to see it that way.