“One face, one name, one champion. Deontay Wilder.” An idealistic vision of the heavyweight landscape, preached time and time again by the Bronze Bomber. This vision, this dream he held, is perhaps now beyond even his extensive reach. While the Gypsy King sits atop the WBC throne, Wilder will never be able to turn this dream in to reality.
After a heavyweight trilogy which will go down in the history book, Wilder has gone from being the undefeated WBC heavyweight champion, to having two heavy defeats on his record. While Tyson Fury is clearly a level above the rest of the heavyweight division, these two knockout losses for Wilder are a real stain on what was a seriously impressive record. After 10 years with the WBC belt, Wilder lost it to Fury in the 2nd fight of the trilogy, on the 22nd of February, before attempting to win it back on the 9th of October – a whole 1 year, 7 months and 17 days later – but ultimately being knocked out by Fury in the 11th round. Wilder did put up a good fight in the latest instalment, knocking Fury down twice in the 4th round, but ultimately it wasn’t enough.
It appears that any appeal of fighting Wilder has vanished, as the 35-year-old still remains one of the deadliest punchers of all time, meaning anybody fighting him is still taking a huge risk, yet the allure of fighting him has diminished, with the previous risk vs reward balancer being the WBC belt. At 35, it’s entirely plausible that Wilder could retire after this, given his long and illustrious career, and his opponent Tyson Fury has hinted that that might have to be the route Wilder takes. In the post-fight press conference, answering a question on whether or not he believes Wilder will fight again, Fury stated; “Shots like that, they end careers. I hope he’s okay, he took a lot of punishment tonight… we’ll see what he can do in the future.”
In terms of any future opponents he may face, one would have to consider some of the younger prospects of heavyweight boxing who would seriously bolster their reputation with a fight against a name as big as Wilder’s. However it does still have to be considered that there’s a heavy risk that comes with fighting him, so it would be a real make or break for any up and coming fighter who steps in the ring with him. One possibility could be the current 8th ranked heavyweight, Joe ‘Juggernaut’ Joyce. The iron chin and stiff jab of the Londoner gives him a realistic chance against Wilder’s heavy right hand, while the prospect of this fight would massively elevate his reputation, and put him in line for further progression.
Another, and perhaps the most exciting opportunity, would be Anthony Joshua. This fight may have lost the hype and glamour it held when originally, but to see two of what was previously referred to as the heavyweight triangle (Wilder, Joshua and Fury) finally facing off, although it wouldn’t be for any belts as it stands, would be an opportunity for either fighter to retain their reputation in the division. This would depend on the outcome of Joshua’s rematch against Oleksandr Usyk, which was announced by Eddie Hearn on Saturday night. Should AJ lose this rematch, it would leave both him and Wilder without any belts and with multiple losses on their records, so it’s certainly an option worth exploring.
Other options include the Croatian Filip Hrgovic, who has been struggling to find opponents around his level and experience due to his glowing reputation and vicious right hand, with a record of 13 wins, 11 by KO. Daniel Dubois also stands as a potential opponent, the risk isn’t as big for him, with a loss already on his record from his British title bout against Joe Joyce, and a fight against Wilder would perhaps be too big of a step up for him at this stage, but it’s a possible hard-hitting heavyweight matchup for the future.
As for Tyson Fury, he will be awaiting the winner of Dillian Whyte vs Otto Wallin. Should Whyte win this fight, he would finally be given his shot at the WBC title, as he was formally announced as the mandatory challenger for the belt. A further victory for Fury in that fight would open up the opportunity for the unification fight against the winner of Usyk vs Joshua II, although that is currently a distant afterthought.
Fury, on a high off the back of two hugely impressive victories against Wilder, one by TKO, and one by KO, will look to unify the belts, and fulfil the prophesy Deontay Wilder laid out. One face, one name, although that face and name will be that of the Gypsy King rather than the Bronze Bomber. Tyson’s father John Fury has, somewhat rashly, stated that “it’s Usyk next or nothing” for his son, also saying “I wouldn’t bother with the rest of them, they’re not in Tyson’s class.” This is a bold claim, especially considering the previously mentioned mandatory challenger, as that fight will be ordered by the WBC within 30 days, and could end in yet another court case should Fury refuse to oblige. As previously mentioned, Usyk vs AJ II has already been announced as the latter chose to activate the rematch clause in their initial fight contract, so for now, that unification option for Fury is occupied. As Eddie Hearn has stated to IFL TV on YouTube, the best case scenario is: Fury beats Whyte, AJ beats Usyk, and then we have the all-British unification fight between the two biggest names in British boxing.
It is yet to be seen which route Deontay Wilder will take following his knockout defeat at the hands of Tyson Fury, but he certainly has options and future opportunities to explore. Whichever choice he makes, retirement or further fights, Wilder has already had a fantastic, memorable boxing career.