Anthony Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn skewered heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder on Wednesday for announcing a fight with Luis Ortiz before Joshua could even conclude his anticipated U.S. debut Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s just embarrassing. Embarrassing. And I’m only pleased now that people are getting to see the truth as I read the responses on social media,” Hearn told the Los Angeles Times before the undercard news conference for Joshua’s defense of his three belts versus California’s Andy Ruiz Jr.
Alabama’s World Boxing Council champion Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) announced on Twitter on Tuesday that he’ll stage a rematch with Cuba’s Luis Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs) after stopping him in the 10th round in March 2018. Ortiz had Wilder in big trouble in the seventh round of that bout.
Staples Center is in play to host the bout, with Sept. 7 cleared, and Showtime is expected to televise it.
“Don’t get me wrong, [Wilder-Ortiz I] was a good fight, but he won by knockout. I don’t think anybody really wants to see it again,” Hearn said. “[Wilder] won the fight. He says he’s got to right the wrongs. What the ...? What wrongs? You knocked him out.”
Wilder’s announcement came a few hours after Joshua said on ESPN on Tuesday morning that he’d seek to step in front of the talk about a Wilder-Ortiz rematch by working to arrange a face-to-face meeting with Wilder should he defeat Ruiz on Saturday on DAZN.
“It will be good for me and Wilder to sit down and talk and get this fight negotiated for the next … I’ve just come to the decision it’s important for me and Wilder to sit down man-to-man and iron out our differences and get this fight made,” Joshua said.
“From promoter to promoter … it’s back and forth, back and forth. We should go direct and see if there’s serious [intent].”
Wilder not allowing for that meeting left a bitter taste in Hearn’s mouth.
“We should be doing this fight in November. No excuse at all,” Hearn said.
“Instead, [Wilder’s] going to fight Ortiz, then he’ll fight [Adam] Kownacki in March or April, and then he’ll look at us this time next year. It’s a disgrace.”
Should England’s Joshua defeat 11-to-1 underdog Ruiz on Saturday on DAZN, the three-belt champion will now likely move on to a mandatory fight against either former unified cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk or former title challenger Kubrat Pulev in November, most likely back in the U.K.
“Could we set a Pulev fight in November? Yeah. It’s not going to set the world alive,” Hearn said. “We’ll see.”