Deontay Wilder’s stock amongst the boxing community managed to both rise and fall on a damaging night for the American in Las Vegas. His defeat against Tyson Fury in the final match-up of the trilogy was one that many among the boxing community saw coming, but as he trudged back to his dressing room he did so having put in a more than respectable performance against the number one heavyweight on the planet.
However, the respect he gained in defeat was lost with his post-fight antics, which if his victorious opponent is to be believed consisted of the Bronze Bomber refusing a handshake and saying: “I don't want to show any sportsmanship or respect.”
Wilder will be well aware of the consequences of this defeat. Although Fury repeatedly called him the second best heavyweight in the world, he still has to fight other elite fighters in order to prove that is a fact. His win over Luis Ortiz is the best on his record, while he was beaten three times by Fury, even if the judges gave him a generous draw in the first.
This trilogy has given Wilder three huge paydays, and a bigger audience than he has ever had before, while he has shown he can compete with the very best. Even at the age of 35, he is unlikely to hang up his gloves, with several top heavyweights still to fight and still a large interest in his fights.
The knock-out artist managed to deck Fury twice in the fourth round, showing the power he possesses and a match-up against another fighter desperate to get hold of the belts would be a scintillating watch. Anthony Joshua will have his rematch against Oleksandr Usyk in Spring 2022 which is likely to rule that duo out until late next year, even if a fight against the Englishman would be a thrilling prospect.
If AJ loses again to Usyk, who is priced as a 2/5 favourite with Betfred, a fight against Wilder would bring him a chance at redemption and set up that potential fight with the lineal champion Fury. For early 2022, Wilder needs a testing fight, but one that he must win.
Dillian Whyte would be an ideal test for Wilder and he could test himself outside the USA if that fight materialised but it now seems as though the 33-year-old will be a mandatory challenge for Tyson Fury to deal with, if he beats Otto Wallin and a unification bout with Usyk cannot be arranged.
Now Wilder ultimately wants to challenge AJ or Usyk after their rematch, but he will need an opponent before that fight potentially comes about late next year. One man who could be the perfect filler for Wilder is Andy Ruiz Jr. He shot to superstardom when he beat Joshua in New York and looks set to face Luis Ortiz or Charles Martin before the end of the year.
If the Mexican gets through that meeting, likely to take place in December, he could be ready to sign up to face Wilder in Spring 2022. That would be a fight that would draw a big crowd, and if Wilder can win it and knock him out, something AJ failed to do in his victory, it would prove he has what it takes to face off against Joshua.
Having beaten Daniel Dubois and Carlos Takam, Joe Joyce’s stock is rising but it is unlikely Wilder would want to face the unbeaten Brit at this stage. He doesn’t yet have the following of some of the other candidates, and Wilder’s career would be left in pieces if he got beaten.
Looking at these potential options, it seems like Andy Ruiz Jr would be the perfect opponent for Wilder, before he sets up a fight in late 2022 with either Usyk or Joshua. In a perfect world we would see AJ vs Usyk 2, Fury vs Whyte and Wilder v Ruiz in early 2022, before seeing an undisputed clash between Fury and Usyk and Wilder take on AJ. But we know boxing isn’t perfect and things are never that simple, but for Wilder to get back to the very top he is going to have to knock out some terrific boxers.