Former undisputed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis has spoken out about the much discussed Anthony Joshua versus Deontay Wilder heavyweight unification clash, siding with the undefeated American knockout artist ahead of his countryman.
Lewis, who emerged as the dominate heavyweight in the ultra-competitive post-Mike Tyson era, believes that IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua 21-0 (20) is allowing himself to be held back by his promoter Eddie Hearn.
“Go order Eddie Hearn to make the fight with Deontay Wilder. Now is the moment when you must take charge of your own destiny,” said Lewis, who retired with a record of 41-2-1 (32), to the Daily Mail.
Hearn and Joshua have been vocal in their criticism of Wilder 40-0 (39), blaming the WBC heavyweight champion of avoiding the undefeated Brit after their very public fight negotiations broke down earlier this year. But Lewis insists it’s the other way around.
“It is Wilder who wants the fight,” said Lewis from his home in Canada. “I was with Wilder in Washington last week and it is clear Joshua doesn’t want the fight.
“He explained to me all the difficulties, of how AJ is listening to Hearn. Deontay definitely wants this fight more than any fight.
“Joshua said he would take $50 million in a heartbeat but when that offer came he didn’t accept. I would have taken $50m quicker than a heartbeat. But I never ducked anyone.”
Lewis’s American rival Riddick Bowe famously dumped his WBC title in a London rubbish bin in 1992 rather than face the rising heavyweight, who had beaten “Big Daddy” in the amateurs. Bowe remains one of the only top class heavyweights of the 1990s that Lewis failed to fight, but it wasn’t through lack of trying.
“I forced the situation. I ordered my manager Frank Maloney to do whatever it took to make the fight. Yes or yes. Riddick had to meet me or vacate. Sometimes, the boxer has to take over from the promoter,” explained Lewis.
“I took control and opened up my chance for greatness. Anthony needs to do the same.”