An eight-figure fee for stepping aside is an obvious bonus if Deontay Wilder were to allow Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury to fight next.
As long as Wilder were guaranteed the winner in the following fight, Paulie Malignaggi thinks there’s another reason Wilder would be wise embrace that option.
“I think Wilder should let them fight first, and then take on the winner,” Malignaggi, an analyst for Showtime and Sky Sports, told BoxingScene.com. “I don’t see anything wrong with that. As a matter of fact, maybe they take something out of each other by fighting each other. And then Wilder can come in and fight the winner for all the belts. That would make the fight between Wilder and the winner for all the belts, because the winner of that fight would have all the belts. You’d be allowing the heavyweight division to become fully unified. I think that would be amazing, and you could create this big deal here.”
Fury won the WBC title from Wilder when he stopped the previously unbeaten knockout artist in the seventh round February 22 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Joshua owns the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO championships.
The 34-year-old Wilder hasn’t expressed interest in anything other than fighting Fury next, despite speculation pertaining to potential investors in a Fury-Joshua fight offering enough money to pay Wilder an enormous sum to allow it to happen next. Fury is contractually obligated to a third fight with Wilder next, which could happen in November or December.
England’s Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) and Alabama’s Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) tentatively were scheduled to meet a third time July 18 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a postponement to October 3 and since an indefinite delay.
England’s Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) is supposed to make a mandatory defense of his IBF title against Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) in his next bout. Joshua and Pulev were scheduled to fight June 20 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, but that fight also has been pushed back due to this global health crisis.
If Fury beats Wilder again and Joshua overcomes Pulev, they could fight sometime in 2021 in what has been touted as the biggest fight in British boxing history.
“I do favor Fury in the fight,” Malignaggi said. “But as I think more and more about the fight, and I think about the motivation of each guy, you do realize that Joshua gets tougher in these kinds of moments. I remember the Klitschko moment. I do think he may have mentally slept on Ruiz. If the Ruiz knockout has not changed him completely, if the guy who knocked out Klitschko shows up, while I’d still favor Fury, I like the fight. It’s a great fight to be made.”
In his career-defining fight, Joshua dropped Wladimir Klitschko in the fifth round, survived a sixth-round knockdown and knocked Klitschko to the canvas twice more in the 11th round on his way to a thrilling, technical-knockout win. Their epic encounter drew a capacity crowd of approximately 90,000 to London’s Wembley Stadium in April 2017.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.