Lennox Lewis disappointed with Anthony Joshua decision not to fight Deontay Wilder now
The last undisputed heavyweight champion of the modern era, Lennox Lewis has urged fellow countryman Anthony Joshua to order his team to make a Deontay Wilder fight.
Following months of back and forth, tit-for-tat negotiations, four-belt title holder Joshua chose (or was maneuvered) to turn down a massive $50m offer to unify the division with WBC champion Wilder.
Holding his position as the top dog at 200 pounds plus, Joshua informed Wilder he would face him in the UK before eventually opting instead to battle mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin in September.
This decision has saddened Lewis, who himself made sure a clash with Mike Tyson went down in 2002 before he eventually stepped away from the sport a year later.
As Joshua and his promoter continue to be criticised for not following through with their words to fight Wilder next, Lewis has given his view, and like most, has sided with the American.
“My thoughts on the Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder situation are that when I was champ, I wanted to face the best to show the world who’s the best – period,” said Lewis.
“I’ve heard them both speak on it but I’ve also seen that AJ has changed his tune. This isn’t a two year down the line thing!
“I’m not in on all the details of the negotiations but when I wanted to fight (Mike) Tyson before retiring, the only thing keeping that fight away was the networks.
“I told my team and HBO to make it happen… end of story. I don’t want to hear about anything else!”
He continued: “The way I see it AJ is the man. He gets to choose time and place for the first fight. I’d make Wilder come to me also… but from what I see from Wilder, he’s willing to… and this is the same attitude I would have.
“When the heavyweight division finally has a pulse, we need action not talk!”
Hopefully, those words from Lewis will resonate with Joshua and Hearn to ensure the fight happens next, although judging by Wilder’s recent dressing down of the Matchroom boss, he may take some persuading to once again enter those kinds of talks.
Joshua will move on and face Povetkin in September, whilst Wilder has a mandatory against Dominic Breazeale to take care of – but has a deal in place he can accept from Hearn once he cools down.
A $5m offer from Hearn to appear on DAZN in October has been flatly rejected, leaving Wilder to mull over the same original offer he had accepted for a possible collision at Wembley on April 13.
That’s all providing problems with the rematch clause can be ironed out after a date and venue were eventually forthcoming once the negotiations had collapsed.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay