Lennox Lewis spells out in clear, unequivocal terms what Anthony Joshua has to do if he really wants to succeed him as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
He tells Joshua: ‘Go order Eddie Hearn to make the fight with Deontay Wilder. Now is the moment when you must take charge of your own destiny.’
Lewis is no doubt that it is the British end of the infamously prolonged negotiations which is sabotaging the heavyweight fight of the decade.
Joshua and his promoter Hearn keep accusing Wilder of ducking but Lewis says: ‘There is no question that it is Wilder who wants the fight and it is Wilder who wants to prove that he is the man in this new heavyweight era.’
Speaking by phone from his home in Canada, where he is preparing for a live appearance on stage at London’s O2 next month, Lewis adds:
‘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 he is having with Anthony and Eddie, of how AJ is listening to Hearn. Deontay most definitely wants this fight more than any fight.’
One factor above all others convinces Lewis that this is the accurate version of the increasingly fractious events preventing a Wembley Stadium spectacular – the money.
He explains: ‘Joshua said he would take $50m in a heartbeat but when that offer came he didn’t accept. I would have taken fifty million quicker than a heartbeat and gone through with any fight. But I never ducked anyone.’
In fact, Lewis sees the current impasse as a trans-Atlantic reversal of when his American rival Riddick Bowe dumped the WBC belt in a London dustbin rather than defend that championship against him.
As a result Lewis was promoted to that vacant world title and now reminds Joshua: ‘Bowe did everything he could to avoid fighting me but I forced the situation.
I did so by ordering my manager Frank Maloney to go out and do whatever it took to make the fight. Yes or yes. No arguments. Then Riddick had to meet me or vacate. It comes to the point where the boxer has to take over from the manager or promoter as The Boss.
‘Oscar De La Hoya and me were the first to take charge of our business. I took control of my destiny and opened up my chance for greatness. Anthony needs to do the same with Eddie.’