By Jake Donovan
At the time of Showtime announced its multi-fight agreement with unbeaten heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua, fellow undefeated champ Deontay Wilder was tucked away in another part of England training for what at the time was supposed to be the biggest fight of his career.
With the fallout of his scheduled May 21 showdown with Alexander Povetkin – who turned up positive for Meldonium during pre-fight random drug testing – Wilder was forced to alter his travel plans from Sheffield, England to Moscow, Russia, instead flying to Birmingham, Alabama and then driving back home an hour to Tuscaloosa.
Aside from the travel, the depression that ensued from the aforementioned bout hitting the scrap heap left the undefeated 30-year old in a rare state where he didn’t want to talk to anyone. Among the topics of conversation never presented as a result were his thoughts on his network of choice (Showtime) bringing another heavyweight titlist into the fold.
“I think it was a great move on Showtime’s behalf, to be honest,” Wilder finally revealed to BoxingScene.com, during a recent press conference in Birmingham to announce his July 16 title defense versus Chris Arreola. “If he keep doing what he doing, then that means we get to fight one day and unify them titles.”
Both have present business to tend to before thinking about any other fight. Still, given the upcoming schedule, for the first time since the canceled Povetkin bout Wilder is able to see a silver lining from what was previously viewed was a wasted road trip abroad.
“Before, we were going to fight before Anthony Joshua’s fight with Dominic Breazeale (which airs this weekend live on Showtime and Sky Sports from London, England) and the rematch with Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko (July 9 in Manchester, England, live on HBO),” notes Wilder. “Now, it’s coming after them two fights.
“I ain't looking past Chris Arreola, so I don't need it twisted like that. I'm taking this fight very serious. But if it go like the way I know I can take care of business, then honestly I'd love to get in at least one more fight, maybe October or November. I'd love for that fight be versus Joshua, or even the winner of Fury-Klitschko.”
A fall-time ring appearance would give Wilder (36-0, 35KOs) three title fights for the second straight calendar year. Having won the title in a rousing 12-round decision over Bermane Stiverne last January, Wilder has since made three defenses, all ending in knockout.
Stoppage victories over Eric Molina and Johann Duhaupas both took place in Birmingham last June and September. His lone piece of ring action to date in 2016 came this past January, scoring a highlight-reel one-punch 9th round knockout of Artur Szpilka in front of a capacity crowd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Next on deck is Arreola (36-4-1, 31KOs), who is viewed as past prime but still boasts enough punching power to turn the tide in any given heavyweight encounter. Should Wilder and Joshua take care of business as the current betting odds suggest (the unbeaten Alabaman is greater than a 30-1 favorite in some sports books, while Joshua is somewhere around 25-1 favorite), a collision course seems all but inevitable.
The question… is when.
“I'm thinking, we all fighting around the same time. So let's all get back in there October or November,” insists Wilder. “There's plenty of time. We all fighting now – Joshua, Fury, Klitschko, myself - so it's an even playing field. We relax a little bit then let's get right back in there, unify these titles and give the fans what they really want to see - some great heavyweight figths and in the end, one undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.”
With HBO having aired Fury-Klitschko I and already on board for the rematch – in addition to having enjoyed a longtime (albeit disrupted) relationship with former champ Klitschko – the dreaded politics of the sport can get in the way of such a fight.
Wilder will do everything he can to make it happen, but sees an easier path in light of recent network moves – although he remains skeptical of how soon it takes place or how much the other side is willing to make it happen.
“They keep saying we gonna fight sooner or later.” Wilder says of the inevitability of a Joshua showdown. “Really, there ain't no sooner than now and I'm ready right now. Let the sooner be now. Really, I don't think his promoter (Eddie Hearn) don't want it like that, though.
“They probably thinking, like a lot of fighters from overseas, they think Americans just talk, they don't say what they mean. I promise you, when it comes to Deontay Wilder, I back up what I say and I mean what I say. With Joshua signed with Showtime, that means ain't no networks in the way. It's a beautiful thing. They just gotta want it like we do.”
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Follow his shiny new Twitter account: @JakeNDaBox_v2