The Art of the Non-Deal: Why Wilder Has Already Beaten Joshua

By Paul Magno on February 15, 2019
The Art of the Non-Deal: Why Wilder Has Already Beaten Joshua
The chatter won’t go away until Joshua is finally in the ring with Wilder. (Sky Sports)

Why exactly is the boxing world being so hard on Anthony Joshua for the failure to wrangle a Deontay Wilder bout?

Behind the “he said, he said” drama involved in why Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder won’t be fighting any time soon, there are a few damning realities.

First, Wilder is nowhere near the star Joshua is.

Second, most knowledgeable boxing people believe Joshua to be the significantly better fighter with the better overall résumé.

Third, most of those same knowledgeable boxing people believe that Joshua would beat Wilder in a head-to-head battle or that, at the very least, Wilder’s only real chance of winning is via one-punch deliverance from the jaws of defeat.

So, then, why exactly is the boxing world being so hard on Anthony Joshua for the failure to wrangle a Deontay Wilder bout? Outside of his UK home base and a few pockets of loyal fanboy fandom scattered throughout the Universo Pugilistico, “AJ” has been taking major flak for this fight not happening.

And, no, “Invading America” against low man on the heavyweight challenger totem pole, Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller at Madison Square Garden in New York, won’t stop the “he must be afraid of Wilder” or “Why’s he avoiding Wilder” talk. If anything, Joshua in NYC will make that talk bigger and bolder.

The chatter won’t go away until Joshua is finally in the ring with Wilder—and maybe not even after that—because this whole idea taps into the core of boxing fans’ macho fairytale belief system. The pampered rich-kid boxer being chased by the noble banger is a story that resonates in the minds of fight fans and it’s been used many times in recent years, to various extents, by savvy promoters and managers to sell their guys without putting them at risk.

Gennady Golovkin’s push to stardom leaned heavily on this dynamic. “Chasing” Felix Sturm got him to America. “Chasing” Sergio Martinez made him an HBO fixture. “Chasing” Miguel Cotto earned him sweetheart status with the WBC. “Chasing” Canelo Alvarez got him his high-profile PPV paydays. The image of “Triple G,” the fearsome warrior, chasing down sissy millionaires made the Kazakh KO artist an instantly sympathetic figure in the hearts of wannabe tough guy fight fans and “purists” who openly pine away for the noble warriors of the sport’s overly-glorified past.

Manny Pacquiao played that dynamic for years while “in pursuit” of Floyd Mayweather. And not only did the Filipino icon become a sympathetic figure, he also, much like Golovkin, got a pass when it came to level of opposition. After all, if that bigshot sissy at the top won’t fight him, then all he can do is fight those who aren’t “chicken”—and those non-chickens almost invariably tend to be tailor-made fall guys of the promoter’s own choosing.

In the business of boxing, getting your guy the benefits of a win without the risk of suffering a loss is ideal. And, given that this public relations strategy tends to be highly effective, it’s easy to see why every tough guy warrior these days seems to be chasing down some business-obsessed coward.

For his best interests to be met, Deontay Wilder doesn’t really need to fight Anthony Joshua—he just needs to look like he WANTS to fight Anthony Joshua. And Joshua, to be played as a patsy in this game, has to just keep being aloof and “above it all,” refusing to bend to the whims of the “lesser” fighter.

Forget the realities of the situation and what is or is not happening behind the scenes in pursuit of this bout, the world sees a three-belt champ with all the money, all the fame, and all the say-so not meeting the challenge of a seemingly earnest one-belt champ. The tendency among fight fans, even smart veteran fans, is to hold the more powerful fighter responsible with a “c’mon, just bend a bit to make this happen” attitude.

And while Joshua-Wilder continues to be an off-the-table non-event, Wilder can claim equal footing as Joshua and have a built-in excuse for any dubious matchmaking decisions in the future.

Meanwhile, no matter who Joshua fights or how deserving that challenger may be, he’ll be blasted with “Why aren’t you fighting Wilder” scorn after every non-Wilder bout.

Team Joshua will have to decide whether living under that shadow is a non-issue when it comes to their fighter’s long-term bankability or if it’s in their best interest to call some bluffs, give in a bit, and make a real effort to get this fight done.

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  1. thrashem 11:41am, 02/16/2019

    The people want that fight to happen. This fight should have already happened. Joshua is afraid of Wilder and that is why it hasn’t happened. I’d call him out, trash talk him till he bleeds. Where is the Money, get it on! To hell with this gentleman boxing BS. Was Tyson, Duran, Chavez… No! They gave you your moneys worth and that is what we want to see.
    No one wants to see another snooze fest with Wilder-Fury.
    Fury is a clown and and an embarrassment to boxing. Makes me puke seeing that tangle footed, lumbering ox wallowing around in the ring. You don’t get a fight with him, run run run… Can’t be Irish!

  2. LOL 07:53am, 02/16/2019

    Imagine Paul Magno ever writing an article of some importance. LMAOOOOOO.

    Wilder is a classless American HW. A typical US boxer. Trash talking, ignorant, protected and unfortunately the WORST American HW in some time. He makes American fighters look like the clowns they are. No racism here, but the trash talking ghetto persona sucks heavy shit. It doesn’t sell fights, it causes me and others to cringe. Need I say that, yes EVEN BLACK boxing fans are getting tired of this crap. AJ is truly a great boxer and a PROFESSIONAL 24/7. Most of the American boxers have a second career being assholes. Just sayin.

    AJ has more skill in his pinky then Wilder has had his whole career.

  3. Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers 07:38am, 02/16/2019

    Wilder was exposed in the Fury fight. Fury blew the fight by clowning too much and could have won easily. Even with all the clowning, I had Fury taking the fight 7-4-1. Team Joshua must know that the fight that will bring them the most money is Fury and not Wilder. My guess is the boxing fans would much rather see a Joshua vs. Fury bout rather than see Joshua take on Wilder.

  4. Your Name 03:55am, 02/16/2019

    Just Lady Joshua being a Lady.

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