By Keith Idec
LOS ANGELES – Now that they’ve gone through something so stirring together, Tyson Fury isn’t only literally a bigger opponent for Deontay Wilder than Anthony Joshua.
According to Shelly Finkel, Wilder’s co-manager, a rematch with the 6-feet-9 Fury now is a bigger fight than Wilder-Joshua. Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) still wants his shot to unify all of boxing’s recognized heavyweight titles by battling the 6-feet-6 Joshua.
The unbeaten WBC champ just might have to wait even longer than he had hoped to land that opportunity to challenge England’s Joshua for his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles.
Finkel expects to discuss the Wilder-Joshua fight in the coming days with Eddie Hearn, whose company promotes Joshua. Hearn repeatedly stated during the buildup toward the Wilder-Fury fight that he wanted to resume negotiations for a potential Wilder-Joshua clash before Wilder and Fury fought.
Finkel refused to do that because he knew Wilder’s value would change if the fighter he manages along with Jay Deas defeated Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs). How Wilder’s split draw with Fury will impact Hearn’s approach to new negotiations remains to be seen, but a second Fury fight is more valuable than their initial battle because it was such a critically acclaimed, dramatic match.
“At this moment, we don’t know what is gonna be next,” Finkel said. “If this other promoter [Hearn] calls [Sunday], like he said, we’ll hear. If not, it’s fine. I believe the fight right now with Fury is a stronger fight and probably more logical to happen because, look, he still dropped the guy twice. That last round, I was surprised he got up. I ran to the corner as though it was over and I’m not sure the other side [Joshua] is still not afraid of [Wilder].”
Wilder’s first response during the post-fight press conference was to state that it’s more important to first fight Joshua for his four titles than it’d be to face Fury again. The 33-year-old Wilder later admitted he is agreeable either to fighting Fury again next or finally facing Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs).
“I would love to go for the other titles, you know,” Wilder said. “I’ve always spoken that there would be one champ and one face and one name, you know? I always wanted to unify the division. I feel the one who unifies the division really brings boxing back because the heavyweight division is too small to have so many champions. And it’s always been my issue, you know, having so many multiples of champions in this division, [with] the small numbers that we have. I feel that it makes the heavyweight division that much more interesting to have one champion, one face, one name, and all the competitors come up and try to fight this one fighter. I would love to fight [Joshua]. I’ve been trying to fight him. Everyone knows that. That’s no secret. But, you know, those guys have other plans and we’ll see what happens.
“But, you know, with that, I’ll be satisfied with either or, to be honest. Me and Fury put on a hell of a performance tonight. And I’d love to go back into a rematch, or I’d love to fight Joshua. So I think I’m in a win-win situation. I know what the fans want and I’m with the fans as well, too. I’m a warrior. I’m a fighter. This is what I do, so we’re gonna see what we do next, and you guys will know.”
The 28-year-old Joshua will return to the ring April 13 at Wembley Stadium in London. He hasn’t chosen an opponent, but England’s Dillian Whyte (24-1, 17 KOs) likely will land that assignment if Whyte wins his rematch against British rival Dereck Chisora (29-8, 21 KOs) on December 22 at O2 Arena in London.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.