For fans of a knockout, there are perhaps no more exciting fighters out there than Deontay Wilder – the former world champion with an incredible 42 stoppages from 43 wins.
‘The Bronze Bomber’ provides the sort of buzz that only heavyweight boxing can and embodies that old adage that one punch can change everything.
Following his thrilling trilogy with Tyson Fury – in which he lost two but managed to drop the undefeated Brit four times – Wilder has been frustratingly inactive, his only fight being a one-round demolition job of Robert Helenius.
That was last October, and so-far fruitless negotiations with Anthony Joshua have dominated the conversation since. With that fight potentially pushed right back until April of 2024, fans want to see the 37-year-old in action – but against who? Boxing Social have five potentials.
‘Big Bang’ Zhang forced himself into a seat at the heavyweight top table with two statement stoppages of Joe Joyce this year, and wants to stay active in important fights while he waits for his mandatory title shot to be honoured. With Fury and Oleksandr Usyk primed to fight potentially twice, Wilder and Joshua are the biggest draws available.
Both teams have said they would make the fight, and a stadium in China would provide sufficient attention for ‘The Bronze Bomber’s reportedly high purse demands. If he wants to cement his place as one of the top four big men, Zhang would be one way to do it.
Andy Ruiz Jr
Wilder-Ruiz makes a lot of sense. So much sense that it was ordered one year ago to take place before the pair failed to come to terms. There’s still hope that the battle of the two former champions – who both work closely with PBC – can put pen to paper. Ruiz is certainly keen on it, and believes he wins by stoppage, but his rumoured financial demands left Wilder’s side ruling it out.
Neither man has pencilled in anything since talks failed, though, and the fan pressure may just continue to chip away to force the talks back around.
The undefeated Cuban has actively called for this to happen, and it would be an interesting test for the former WBC champ. On his part, Sanchez needs a step-up in competition at 31-years-old and with no twelve rounders under his belt. He’s tricky, durable and is trained by Eddy Reynoso of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez fame.
Also with PBC, it would be far from a struggle to make, but perhaps not the spectacle that Wilder feels he deserves at this stage in his career.
Again, not high-profile, but a realistic option if the Joshua fight is truly going to happen. Franklin, despite losing both, held up a good account of himself against the Brit and Dillian Whyte before that – a fight many thought he won. He has scored a victory over Isaac Munoz Gutierrez since.
He took ‘AJ’ the distance, and fans do love a shared opponent to compare performances. If Wilder could knock the quick-of-hand 30-year-old out, it would send a clear message.
Finally, Joshua. If Wilder has already waited 12 months, what’s 16 or 18? There’s no guarantee that the hard-hitter from Alabama won’t just continue to train with Malik Scott and wait from the call from manager Shelly Finkel to say that a site has been found and the fight is on.
It wouldn’t be the smartest move considering Joshua’s plan to stay active after having already fought twice this year, but it’s one many fans won’t put past Wilder, who is that confident of landing his devastating trademark shot that he will feel he doesn’t need ring-time.