Wilder questions the heart of Joshua ahead of almost certain 2024 encounter

Deontay Wilder makes his long-awaited return to the ring following a fourteen-month absence against Joseph Parker in Riyadh on Saturday.

In that time away, Wilder has endured a number of negotiations fall by the wayside for major fights against Andy Ruiz, but most prominently, his attempted negotiations with Anthony Joshua.

Negotiations between Wilder and Joshua earlier this year failed to produce an outcome, with former Saudi promotional entity Skill Challenge Entertainment (SCE) failing to deliver the goods for all parties involved.

Turki Al-Sheikh, Chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority and Riyadh Season, finally secured a deal between all parties. Wilder and Joshua will share the stage in differing fights before locking horns reportedly in March, 2024.

Boxing is well-versed in protracted negotiations, gamesmanship on the negotiating table, and ultimately letting itself down periodically.

However, Wilder has cast blame onto Joshua and his promoter, Eddie Hearn.

Speaking to the BBC, Wilder believes that Joshua and Hearn are scared of him if he were to defeat Joshua due to the two-time unified heavyweight world champion’s financial and strategic importance to Hearn and Matchroom Boxing.

“Money hasn’t been the issue," he said. "It comes with not having the heart, the will, the courage to step in the ring."

“I don’t really just blame it on Joshua. I blame it on his handlers, on his promotion and his management. Because let’s face it Joshua is the cash cow of the company.

“Without him, no money is drawn into Matchroom. We all know that. Not only do I feel Joshua is intimidated of me, but I feel his promoter is as well. That’s why the fight hasn’t happened.”

However, Wilder remains on task regarding his upcoming fight with Parker despite Wilder acknowledging the rewards, laying in wait in an all but confirmed fight with Joshua if he negates past Parker.

“I’m taking the biggest risk because they’re [observers] looking past Parker - but I’m not,” Wilder added. “Joshua is the biggest fight in combat sport, period. When people talk to me, the main thing they talk about is me and him, all the time. It applies pressure because the world wants to see [it].”