Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder have cut contrasting figures this week.
I like watching fighters during fight week, I find it fascinating. In some cases their demeanor is the same all week, they’re consistent, whether cheerful or surly, whilst others change as the days pass, as they get nearer and nearer fight night.
Some can flick that switch that takes them into fight mode very quickly and therefore leave it late in the week, sometimes delaying that change in persona until they’re sitting in the changing room getting their hands wrapped, while for others it’s more of a gradual process as bit by bit they retreat into themselves, their mood darkening as the hours pass.
Deontay Wilder has been very consistent this week, garrulous and amiable. We sat down with him on Monday, then spoke again at the grand arrivals and then once more at the open workout and he’s been on fine form, keen to talk about his fight versus Joseph Parker but also about where he is in his life and the philosophies that define him these days. He’s different to how he used to be. Not long ago he was capable of bringing a sinister edge to fight week but I genuinely think the days of him talking about getting a body on his record are over.
I asked him what’s brought the change about and he said that it was partly due to getting older and wiser and partly due to the fact that he is now genuinely happy. He did also mention his recently acquired taste for Ayahuasca and credits its cleansing qualities with playing a part in the clarity he now feels he possesses. But make no mistake, he is still the “Bronze Bomber” and still as keen as ever to turn his opponent’s lights out when that first bell sounds. If anything a more philosophical, zen Deontay Wilder is maybe more menacing than the original.
Anthony Joshua meanwhile has taken a different approach. I sat down with him on Monday and he was relaxed and easy company. He shrugged when we spoke about all the things that his opponent Otto Wallin and his once-scheduled opponent Jarrell Miller have had to say about him, dismissing it as par for the course, part and parcel of being the juggernaut that he is and has been for such a long time. But the next day, at the arrivals, we saw a different person. He was terse in mood and abrupt in his answers when questioned. I was working on the stream for the international broadcast and I’m not sure myself, Dev Sahni and Darren Barker got more than 50 words out of him in the five or six questions we asked. I was a bit surprised by the alteration in mood but not shocked, and certainly not offended. Anthony has been at this a long time now and having done plenty of talking the day before, wasn’t in the mood to do any more.
He was slightly more forthcoming when I spoke to him at Wednesday’s workouts but I could tell he would rather have been back in the hotel relaxing and preparing because he told me so. People are reading a lot into his moods and asking whether Wallin, Miller and also Wilder have got under his skin but I don’t think they have myself. I think he’s just probably sick of everyone having an opinion on everything he does because, although that kind of analysis does come with the territory of having had the career he’s had, it doesn’t mean he has to like it, and if he doesn’t like it then he’s under no obligation to hide the fact that he doesn’t. He told me he wants to hurt Otto Wallin and I’m beginning to get the impression the Swedish fighter could find himself in a very difficult spot come Saturday night. Joshua means business.
Day of Reckoning featuring Anthony Joshua vs Otto Wallin and Deontay Wilder vs Joshua Parker is live on Saturday December 23. Sky customers can purchase on TNT Sports Box Office at www.sky.com/boxoffice/tnt-sports/day-of-reckoning