Heading into his highly-anticipated February rematch with Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder was chasing history.
Victory over Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) would have ensured an 11th consecutive defence for Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs), surpassing the late, great Muhammad Ali. However, the American’s hopes were shattered in a one-sided seventh round stoppage defeat, the first of his career.
The ‘Bronze Bomber’ was fortunate to claim a draw in his first meeting with the Brit, despite two knockdowns, the second of which Fury miraculously got up from in the 12th round.
However, the ‘Gypsy King’ left the second clash beyond any doubt, dropping his rival twice, before Wilder’s long-time co-trainer, Mark Breland compassionately pulled his man out from battle, a decision which has cost him his position in the team.
The 35-year-old cited a host of reasons for his loss, namely his 40 pound ring-walk costume which he wore to commemorate Black History month, weakening his legs, before releasing an explosive video on social media accusing Fury of tampering with his gloves and later alleged that Breland spiked his water.
Wilder, one of the hardest hitting Heavyweights of all-time, remains a major threat in the division and is holding out for a trilogy with Fury, despite the latter’s team claiming that the timeframe for a third fight had lapsed.
The pair were set to meet in July prior to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak and a clash was delayed until October due to Wilder undergoing surgery on an injury sustained during the rematch.
An earmarked date of December 19 was also shelved, with a number of college football games falling on the same day.
Wilder’s team remain in mediation and this week his co-manager, Shelly Finkel confirmed that they would be taking their case to arbitration in an attempt to enforce a trilogy.
Fury, who is in ongoing negotiations for an undisputed showdown with Anthony Joshua in the spring, has gone on record insisting he would never hand the Alabama man another shot at him, following the accusations made against him, so who could be next in line for the ‘Bronze Bomber’ if Fury is not part of the equation?
It will be over a year when Wilder next steps into the ring and should that not be against Fury, his team have held preliminary talks with Charles Martin (28-2-1, 25 KOs), according to Sports Illustrated.
The former IBF Heavyweight champion, who was stopped in two rounds by Joshua in 2016 in his only knockout loss to date.
‘Prince’ is on a three-fight winning streak after losing to Adam Kownacki on a decision in 2018, halting Gerald Washington on the undercard to Wilder’s defeat to Fury in February.
The 34-year-old is a solid Heavyweight contender and has manoeuvred himself into the number one position in the IBF in pursuit of his old belt.
A fight between the pair would be a marketable clash in the USA, despite Wilder heading in as a heavy favourite and would give him the opportunity to regain his confidence after a shattering loss to Fury.
Povetkin-Whyte rematch winner
For years, Dillian Whyte had called for a showdown with then WBC champion, Wilder whilst he stood as number one contender.
Whyte (27-2, 18 KOs) risked his position in dangerous match-ups with the likes of former WBO titlist, Joseph Parker, twice with seasoned campaigner, Derek Chisora and previously unbeaten Colombian, Oscar Rivas who he had to climb off the canvas to beat.
However, it was a gamble too far for ‘The Body Snatcher’ who saw his world title hopes destroyed in a flash after suffering a brutal loss to Alexander Povetkin in August, dramatically halted by a huge uppercut after appearing on course for victory with two earlier knockdowns.
The 32-year-old will get his chance at revenge when he finally faces the Russian again on March 6, with a scheduled November clash and mooted January meeting both cancelled after ‘Sasha’ tested positive for Coronavirus.
Even if Whyte beats Povetkin (36-2-1, 25 KOs) and reclaims the WBC interim title, there is no guarantee that he would receive an immediate world title shot and therefore a lucrative clash with Wilder could be an option.
“I would love to smash Deontay Wilder’s face in,” Whyte told Sky Sports.
“It’s one of those fights where I would be very charged up. I would go out in the first round and just get going after him.
“It is frustrating, but it’s still a big name. He’s one of the top guys and I would love to fight him.”
There appears genuine animosity and needle between these two and a showdown would generate an immense amount of interest, with Whyte’s promoter Eddie Hearn describing it as a “massive” fight.
If Povetkin secures a second win over Whyte he will remain a potent threat in the division, with the Brixton man widely considered as one of the five best Heavyweights globally.
At almost 42, though it seems like his career is drawing to a close, a showdown with Wilder would likely tempt the Russian to continue and would be a fitting way to close a chapter which started when the pair were set to meet in 2016, prior to Povetkin testing positive for Meldonium.
Andy Ruiz Jr
Andy Ruiz Jr like Wilder is on the comeback trail after his first professional loss.
Ruiz Jr (33-2, 22 KOs) pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport when he dramatically stopped Anthony Joshua to become unified world champion at Madison Square Garden in June 2019, however the Mexican-American was soundly beaten on points in their rematch in Saudi Arabia last December.
The 31-year-old, who came in at over 20st admitted to taking his eye off the ball in preparation for the second bout and has since linked up with Eddy Reynoso, trainer to Canelo Alvarez and Ryan Garcia, after splitting from Manny Robles.
The pair remain two of the biggest names in the division, despite both being relieved of their titles and their styles would make for a clash of speed against power and accuracy.
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Question marks over if Wilder could handle Ruiz Jr’s velocity of punches and by the same token if Ruiz Jr could take the former’s brute power makes for an intriguing clash and potentially a high-grossing pay-per-view.
Michael Hunter has been vocal of his desire to face the elite of the division and teased a future clash, tweeting a poster of himself and Wilder.
Hunter (19-1-1, 13 KOs), who offered to fight Tyson Fury for free when he was searching for an opponent for a December 5 bout which fell through, has also been linked to a rematch with Martin Bakole, although reports suggest the Congolese will face Filip Hrgovic first.
#1 American Heavyweight? pic.twitter.com/e3cfK9yu9y
— Michael Hunter ll (@MichaelHunterII) December 22, 2020
‘Bounty’, who’s only defeat comes on points in an unsuccessful bid to claim the WBO Cruiserweight title against Oleksandr Usyk in 2017, bounced back from a controversial draw to Alexander Povetkin with a fourth round knockout of Shawn Laughery in Decem bee and will be hoping to elevate himself into title contention this year, with a #3 ranking with the IBF.
The 32-year-old has carried his speed up from Cruiserweight and proved against Povetkin that he can trouble the best at Heavyweight.
Like Martin, a showdown between Hunter and Wilder would be an appealing fight in the USA and likely to generate a great deal of interest.