Deontay Wilder plans to "smoke out" the evasive Anthony Joshua for a high-profile heavyweight unification clash after his latest forthcoming WBC title defence this weekend.
The undefeated, hard-hitting 'Bronze Bomber' is set to put the belt he has held for more than three years on the line for the seventh time on Saturday night [3 March] in arguably the toughest test of his 39-fight professional career to date against Cuban veteran Luis Ortiz at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Victory over 'King Kong' would keep Wilder on track for a lucrative winner-takes-all showdown with Great Britain's WBA (Super), IBF and IBO champion Joshua, who is expected to make his US debut later this year if he can maintain his own unbeaten record against WBO title-holder Joseph Parker of New Zealand in Cardiff on 31 March.
The Tuscaloosa native has long since accused Joshua's camp of avoiding such a bout and in a recent interview with Fight Hub TV labelled Eddie Hearn's potential plans for the 2012 Olympic gold medallist - who is also likely to have to face WBA mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin at some stage in 2018 if both men are victorious at the Principality Stadium next month - to make his stateside bow against Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller in the summer as "laughable" and an "excuse".
Wilder continued his criticism of Joshua's promoters during an appearance on ESPN talk show First Take with Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim this week, claiming they have no confidence in his abilities and reiterating plans to smoke out his rival.
"It's been crazy trying to make this fight with Joshua and his team," he said. "They've been avoiding me for years. This is not something that I've just started doing, I've been calling this man out [for] almost two years now.
"I'm very happy for him, proud of him, he's doing what he's doing in his country and his country is behind him. But it's come a point in time where the best must fight the best. They say he's the best, because he don't say he's the best, they speak for him because he doesn't have that confidence.
"But I speak for myself. I know I'm the best and they don't want to fight me. I don't even think his promoter has confidence in his own fighter. What he's doing is milking the cow, milking the cow... when I knock Ortiz out, we're gonna smoke him out of there.
"If I can't do it verbally myself with my mouth, we're going to use the people to smoke him out of there. This fight is very important."
The self-assured Wilder also scoffed at suggestions that he might need a victory over Joshua to feel like the real heavyweight champion of the world.
"I don't need that fight to feel like the champ," he added. "I feel that way now. Don't I speak it? I speak it, believe it, receive it. It don't get no better than that. I say what I'm gonna do and I let the world watch me do it."