With Anthony Joshua’s crushing knockout victory this past weekend over Kubrat Pulev all but guaranteeing a big-money showdown between AJ and Tyson Fury, I found myself wondering what’s next for former champ, Deontay Wilder. Had Joshua lost,
Wilder had a clear and obvious path back to another title shot against Fury, but he didn’t lose and now Wilder is very much on the outside looking in. It’s hard to see where he goes from here.
Deontay Wilder is a polarizing figure in the game. To his fans, he is a candidate for G.O.A.T. designation. To his detractors, he is an incomplete, wooden fighter who has nothing more than a punch. For those of us in the middle, Deontay Wilder is a bit of an enigma. He sure can punch, but can he fight?
The jury is out for me on this one. I say this because it’s very difficult to determine how good a boxer really is when he keeps knocking his opponents out with such ease. The man has knocked out 41 of his 42 victims. In many ways, his career parallels that of Big George Foreman. We never really realized Foreman was actually a decent boxer until his second incarnation as a fighter.
I suspect that Deontay Wilder may be a bit better boxer than he is given credit for, but he’s no Ali. My problem is how do I, or anyone else for that matter, imperiously dismiss the chances of a guy who is 42-1-1 (41 KO’s)? Even against the one man to beat him, Fury, Wilder came awfully close to beating him in their first fight – and in the eyes of many, did beat him. I’m still not sure how Fury got up from that late knockdown.
So, I’m not willing to say that Wilder has no place in the Heavyweight title picture. He sure does. But, how does he get back there? Who does he fight to remain relevant?
We can’t have him fight the 40-something-year-old Ortiz again. Dominic Breazeale is still sleeping from the shot Wilder landed on him and Bermane Stiverne isn’t worth the effort. There is talk about Dillian Whyte, but after Whyte’s showing against Povetkin, that talk may only be coming from Whyte’s camp.
There’s also talk about a bout with Mahmoud Charr, but this begs the question “why?” The German is beyond limited, can’t really punch, and poses virtually no threat at all to Wilder. Similarly, I see no point in Deontay fighting the strong, but very limited Oleksandr Usyk. Daniel Dubois would be cannon fodder for Wilder and Joe Joyce is now credible, but a big risk without much upside for Wilder.
One fringe possibility is the ultra-raw Croatian, Filip Hrgovic. Now Hrgovic is about as raw as they come but he’s uber-strong and very aggressive. Again, from Wilder’s camp’s point of view, big risk with little reward.
A more likely and sensible option might be former champ, Andy Ruiz. Ruiz, (33-2, 22 KO’s) is another guy with something to prove after his abysmal showing against Joshua in defending the title he won from him just a few short months earlier. Both of these top-ranked guys left a lot of unanswered questions after their last big fights.
I think they pose just the right level of test for each other. Are these contenders or pretenders? Now personally, I think an in-shape Ruiz wins this battle because his fundamentals are just so much better than Wilder’s. But if Andy is going to train at the Golden Corral Buffet again like he did for his rematch with AJ, it’s not going to go his way.
For his part, Wilder would appear to have all the physical advantages he would need to make short work of the Mexican. But that’s the thing about Andy Ruiz, he loves surprising us. The one thing that I think Wilder would be shocked by, is Andy’s hand speed. He really does have a fast pair of mitts.
He’s got a pretty good set of whiskers on him too, having never been stopped – then again, he’s never been hit by the likes of Deontay Wilder. Honestly, I think this would make for one hell of an interesting fight and I’m hearing rumours that it’s going to happen in 2021.
It’s the best option for both of these men as they try to claw their way back into relevance. One thing though that we need to keep in mind, the loser of this one is pretty much done. They’ll both know that and will have it tucked away for motivation if nothing else. Can’t wait.