By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – This heavyweight waiting game is starting to seem familiar to Deontay Wilder.
The roles are reversed for the undefeated heavyweight champions from America and England, but Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) suspects Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) is trying to avoid him the way Riddick Bowe eluded Lennox Lewis 25 years ago. Wilder made that comparison early Sunday morning at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, where he knocked out mandatory challenger Bermane Stiverne in the first round of their rematch Saturday night.
“I hate to say this, but it seems like this is turning into a Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis effect,” Wilder said during the post-fight press conference. “And if so, then [Joshua] needs to go ahead and throw those belts in the trash can because I am coming.”
The knockout artist from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, alluded to Bowe infamously dumping the WBC belt in a trash can as part of a publicity stunt at a press conference in London in December 1992. The WBC had ordered Bowe, who also owned the IBF and WBA heavyweight titles at the time, to make a mandatory title defense against Lewis after Lewis knocked out Donovan “Razor” Ruddock in the second round of their elimination match in October 1992.
England’s Lewis had beaten Bowe by second-round technical knockout in the super-heavyweight gold medal match at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Lewis wanted nothing more than to beat Bowe again for a heavyweight title, but Bowe wanted to pursue other options, most notably a more lucrative rematch against Evander Holyfield.
Brooklyn’s Bowe defeated Holyfield by unanimous decision in their first fight, a 12-rounder in Las Vegas, to win the IBF, WBA and WBC titles in November 1992. Bowe won two of his three fights against Holyfield, but never fought Lewis, who was given the WBC title once Bowe refused to fight him.
Rock Newman, Bowe’s manager, blamed Lewis for turning down a $3 million offer to box Bowe before the WBC ordered their title fight.
Wilder hopes history doesn’t repeat itself, in that this time, the undefeated heavyweight champions from the United States and the United Kingdom will fight each other.
“I know after this that the heat is gonna be on the other champions, definitely Joshua, because that’s what people wanna see,” Wilder said. “And that’s what I want as well, too, so after this fight the pressure’s definitely gonna be on. I think I’ve won a lot of fans, not only Americans, but UK fans and people all around the world. So that’s the mega-fight, that’s the one I want and we will get it. I don’t say hope, I’m not gonna say if. I’m gonna speak it, I believe it, I’m gonna receive it.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.