With the jury somewhat out on the current state of the heavyweight division, WBC World champion Deontay Wilder was quick to remind the boxing fraternity that he remains one of the sport’s most captivating, controversial and entertaining characters on Saturday evening. After sustaining months of below-the-belt verbal abuse, challenger Dominic Breazeale had his chance to derail his brash compatriot at the Barclays Centre before a capacity crowd.
Wilder – in typically instinctive mood – caught his opponent early and went in for the kill. During the chaos that unfolded, the 33-year-old Breazeale did wobble Wilder as he pursued an early finish – causing the long-reigning heavyweight champion to re-gather himself for a few seconds. Moments later, however, the action was over. The self-dubbed ‘Bronze Bomber’ landed a straight right hand of nuclear proportions – leaving Breazeale with close-to-no chance of beating the count.
Deontay Wilder showed the fans and media alike once again that not only is he blessed with freakish power, but he also has clear vulnerabilities – adding to the must-watch nature of his all-or-nothing fighting style. After nine title defences and months – if not years – of he-said-she-said public negotiations with the division’s elite, where does the 33-year-old go from here? We assess five different avenues that Wilder could be heading down in the near future.
LUIS ORTIZ (31-1, 26 KO’s)
Following a fan-friendly first encounter between the then-unbeaten pair back in March 2018, Ortiz has remained vocal about righting the wrongs of his stoppage loss. The Cuban – who was considered by many to be the ‘Bogeyman’ of the division – had his moments during a competitive contest.
After scoring a knockdown himself in the 5th round, Wilder was fortunate to survive an onslaught from Ortiz in the 7th. The bell prevented what looked an inevitable stoppage, after a barrage of heavy shots rocked the home favourite. The WBC champion showed his powers of recovery, however, as he produced a finish of predatory proportions in the tenth round to close the show.
The 40-year-old Ortiz entered the ring after Wilder’s first round destruction of Dominic Breazeale on Saturday evening, with a post-fight interview perhaps signalling that the rematch is most likely to come next for the ‘Bronze Bomber’.
ADAM KOWNACKI (19-0, 15 KO’s)
Also ringside at Saturday’s heavyweight showdown was the undefeated Adam Kownacki, who seems convinced that he will be in line to face Deontay Wilder in the coming months. The Brooklyn-based 30-year-old has overcame a series of second-string heavyweights in the last two years – including a points victory over former-World champion Charles Martin, and early stoppage wins over Artur Szpilka and Gerald Washington.
Kownacki – who has a sizeable New York fanbase – is rumoured to be taking on former-Wilder foe Chris Arreola in August, with a victory possibly enough to secure him a shot at the heavyweight World title in either late 2019 or early 2020. The likelihood of this fight being immediately next for Wilder is slim due to the availability of Luis Ortiz, though the Poland-born Kownacki seems nailed on to be next in line should the champion prevail once again against the Cuban.
DILLIAN WHYTE (25-1, 18 KO’s)
With his initial WBC World title eliminator taking place as far back as December 2016 against Dereck Chisora, Dillian Whyte remains in pursuit of a shot at the heavyweight crown. ‘The Body Snatcher’ was left frustrated recently, as the WBC declared Dominic Breazeale as the mandatory challenger for Wilder’s belt at his expense. Whyte had previously been ordered to face Breazeale in an ‘interim’ fight, with an immediate Wilder-Fury rematch in the works. That idea was scrapped, however, when Fury opted out of challenging for the WBC crown once again.
The 31-year-old remains at number one in the rankings of the WBC – meaning he may well get his long-awaited shot at Deontay Wilder in the next twelve months. Whyte must first avoid any potential banana-skin against the undefeated Oscar Rivas on July 20th in London, who should prove to be a tough night’s work.
TYSON FURY (27-0-1, 19 KO’s)
Having outboxed WBC champion Wilder for large parts of their highly-anticipated showdown back in December, Tyson Fury heard the final bell after making an astounding recovery from a seismic knockdown. ‘The Gypsy King’ appeared to have done enough over the twelve rounds to take the heavyweight title back to Manchester, though the fight was dubiously announced as a draw.
Following the largely-disputed result, the WBC ordered an immediate rematch to take place. Fury, however, opted to explore other avenues – with ESPN taking an interest in building his Stateside profile. The 30-year-old takes on Tom Schwarz on June 15th, and though differing television network loyalties may prove to be somewhat an obstacle, a Wilder rematch could still be on the cards if Fury prevails.
ANTHONY JOSHUA (22-0, 21 KO’s)
Keep the faith…
It could still happen. With months upon months of failed talks, finger-pointing and Twitter accountancy, the undisputed fight craved by millions around the world remains on ice for now. If Joshua overcomes Andy Ruiz Jr, however, both of the marquee division’s big guns will surely be eyeing up what would arguably be the biggest fight in the sport.
Personal conflicts, network deals and financial disagreements all complicate the process of making this super-fight. With so much on the line, though, there may come a time in the near future where both parties put their differences aside to give the world the fight the heavyweight division craves so badly.