Deontay Wilder – heavyweight champion for around half a decade and one of the most explosive fighters of a generation – is struggling to make a fight.
The knockout artist from Alabama has been in protracted talks with his fellow former titlist, Anthony Joshua, in 2023, but nothing has materialised and promoter Eddie Hearn tells Boxing Social that the fight is more likely for March or April next year.
Wilder’s trainer and former opponent, Malik Scott, wants his man active, and told Mail Sport that there were two other names in the division that he liked.
“Hopefully. I mean Ruiz is a top-tier heavyweight, so anybody that’s in that top-tier, including him, is definitely an option. We may go with Ruiz.
Who else is there? Usyk, but Usyk is fighting Fury. I wouldn’t mind seeing Deontay knock out [Zhilei] Zhang who just beat Joe Joyce. He put himself in a position to be an option. And I would want that to be in Zhang’s country.
Who else is really there? At the top-tier everybody is tied up or busy. AJ may be fighting Hrgovic from what I’m hearing.”
Scott said Wilder was in the gym in fight mode, ready and waiting for the opponent to be announced. Ruiz has long been floated as an opponent, and the pair were even ordered by the WBC to face off at one stage.
The negotiations came to a bitter end amidst a dispute about purses.
Fans have been led to believe that it would be Joshua for the best part of the year, but a shift in the boxing landscape in Saudi Arabia saw that offer taken off the table.
The former champion is now over twelve months out the ring, and that last outing was only going for one round. That makes a ring return a priority, regardless of who stands in the other corner.
Following two statement stoppage wins over Joe Joyce in London, Zhilei Zhang is looking for an opponent whilst Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk set about becoming undisputed. It’s a match-up fans would welcome.