A tantalizing tilt between former heavyweight world titlists is increasingly gaining momentum.
In September, Deontay Wilder’s manager Shelly Finkel stated that the knockout artist he represents was open to a fight with Anthony Joshua.
Now, Joshua sounds like it’s all but a foregone conclusion for a potential bout to take place between the pair.
“Yeah, I look at Deontay Wilder in the same fashion. He said he’s got a couple of years left, and he probably wants to put me on his hit list,” Joshua told IFL TV. “So it’s a fight that’ll definitely happen now he’s more than eager. He’s a bit older now, so he’s looking to make the last [few years] of his career a successful one. He wants to fight some of the top names of the division. So yeah, I’m sure he’ll be keen [to fight me.]”
From March 2018 until June 2019, both Wilder and Joshua controlled the heavyweight championship picture. Wilder held the WBC crown while Joshua owned the WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO titles.
DAZN, then still a new entrant to the world of boxing, wanted to stage the fight and offered Wilder $100 million for a three-fight package that would include two matchups versus Joshua. Wilder, however, ultimately turned down the deal citing dishonesty from DAZN.
Soon after, Joshua got stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr. and later regained the titles only to lose them again to Oleksandr Usyk. Wilder, meanwhile, lost his crown to Tyson Fury in 2020.
Now, the 33-year-old Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs) and 37-year-old Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) are the top-two uncrowned contenders in the division.
Wilder is coming fresh off a first-round knockout of Robert Helenius in October while Joshua is looking to rebound after losing a rematch to Usyk in August.
Joshua promoter and Matchroom Boxing head Eddie Hearn has hinted that Joshua is likely to return to the ring in March to face the winner of the Nov. 26 bout between Dillian Whyte and Jermaine Franklin.
Joshua knocked out Whyte in 2015.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has said in recent weeks that the sanctioning body will order a fight between Wilder and Ruiz in which the winner would be the No. 1 mandatory challenger for the title Fury currently holds.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.