Deontay Wilder is a prime player once again in the heavyweight picture. 

Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs) will return to the ring following back-to-back losses to Tyson Fury to take on former sparring partner Robert Helenius at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on Oct. 15 to headline a FOX pay-per-view. 

The former WBC heavyweight champion from 2015 to 2020 and 2004 United States Olympics bronze medalist will certainly seek to challenge for a world title once again.

Standing in front of him may be the participants featuring two of the top upcoming heavyweight tilts.

On Saturday, Oleksandr Usyk will defend his titles in a rematch against Anthony Joshua. On Sept. 4, Wilder’s PBC stablemates Andy Ruiz Jr. and Luis Ortiz will look to catapult themselves atop the heavyweight contender ladder when they face off. 

Wilder joined the PBC Podcast hosted by Kenneth Bouhairie and Michael Rosenthal to offer his predictions on how the two fights will play out. 

“My honest opinion is that it depends on [Usyk and Joshua]. A lot of time has passed. A lot of time has been given to strategizing for the second time around. It's all going to be up to those guys,” said Wilder. “My heart says Usyk – easily. He’s got the momentum now, and how he was able to do it the last time around. But this is boxing, and you never know how it’s going to pan out. I wish them the best of luck and hope they get out of the ring just like they came in – safe and sound.” 

Joshua has long been discussed as a possible foe for Wilder, but negotiations have never come close to crossing the finish line. 

A more feasible fight would feature Wilder facing the winner between the former heavyweight champion Ruiz and title challenger Oritz, the Cuban contender Wilder has twice knocked out. 

“My money and heart are on Ortiz,” said Wilder. “It's unfortunate that he's had lesser opportunities. He has the skill, hard work, and heart. He's determined and motivated. Fighting him twice, we have built a brotherhood and very strong relationship with each other. It's amazing what boxing can do. They can make you enemies or make you love each other. I'm always going to root for him, but I'm also a realist. I do see Ortiz winning this fight in a devastating fashion, and controlling the fight. A lot of people look at his age, but age only defines a person so far ... I'm looking forward to seeing him do great things. If he continues to do great things, we might see Ortiz vs. Wilder III. So let’s go, Luis. I don't think anyone would deny that.” 

The Bronze Bomber also didn’t rule out a bout with Ruiz. 

“If Ruiz wins, it's not if, it's a matter of when. It's the same for any of the guys in the [PBC] stable,” he said. “If you're in this business to be great and make money, then we all have to fight each other. That's just the bottom line. I’m in the business of giving fans great fights.” 

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] or on