BY JOHN ZENOR
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Deontay Wilder says he’s ready to fight Anthony Joshua in a heavyweight unification bout, and is willing to travel overseas to make it happen.
Wilder called off a scheduled media conference call Tuesday, instead issuing a statement saying he’s open to fighting Joshua next in the United Kingdom.
“Anthony, I am so glad we finally heard from you on Saturday and that you want to fight me as your next opponent and you want the fight to happen in the UK,” Wilder said. “I accept that challenge and I am ready to come to the UK for my next fight. There is nothing on Team Wilder’s side to prevent me from fighting you next.”
The Alabama native said co-managers Shelly Finkel and Al Haymon are available to begin talks to set up the fight immediately, and “the sooner the better.”
Joshua (21-0, 20 knockouts) is a huge draw in the UK. He won a unanimous decision over Joseph Parker on Saturday before 78,000 fans in Cardiff, Wales. He now holds four title belts, while Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) is the WBC champion.
Wilder has defended his WBC belt six times, all with stoppages. He’s coming off a 10th-round knockout of previously unbeaten Luis Ortiz on March 3.
The Joshua-Wilder winner would be the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000.
“I will get all five of the belts,” Joshua said after the Parker fight. “It’s not an issue.”
Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn said afterward the fight needs to happen this year, but called Wilder’s representatives “erratic and unpredictable.”
One potential bone of contention: Joshua doesn’t think the purse should be a 50-50 split because he holds four belts.
But Wilder’s statement struck a polite tone a few days after shouting into his phone on a video posted on Twitter: “Joshua? Joshua? Stop playing, and pick up the phone!”
His message Tuesday: “Thanks Anthony, I can’t wait to meet you in the ring.”
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