Deontay Wilder would love nothing more than for a third fight with Tyson Fury to serve as his next ring appearance.

Absent that, there isn’t anything he would love more than just to fight sooner rather than later.

The former heavyweight titlist from Tuscaloosa, Alabama has seemingly come to grips that neither a third fight with Fury nor a second fight in 2020 will take place. At no point has that discouraged him from not remaining in boxing shape, with such preparation leaving him poised to return at the start of the New Year.

“Know that whoever I come back in the ring against, it’s going to come with a purpose,” Wilder revealed during an hour-plus interview on The Last Stand Podcast with Brian Custer. “I’ve been training since September. Things haven’t stopped for me. We’ve been going and going. I might take off for a week or so, and then we get back at it. Training hasn’t stopped for me.

“You can see me back in the ring [from] some time the first week of January to—the latest—early February. We’re looking through opponents now. We’re not gonna sit around and wait on some coward who has an obligation to fulfill but ran away from it. We gotta get back in the ring. I got a lot of fans looking forward to me stepping back in the ring. That’s what we’re gonna do. We’re looking now and staying in training.”

The “coward” reference is regarding the third fight with Fury which never saw the light of day. Plans to stage the bout on July 18 and again on October 3 were both placed on hold, the latter directly affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as there existed the need for such an event to take place with fans in attendance.

Efforts to hold part three on December 19 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas looked good until ESPN and Fox Sports—who joined forces on the Pay-Per-View event this past February and were set to do so again–both bailed due to extensive commitments to key college football games across both platforms.

All told, it left Wilder nine months and counting to sit on his lone career defeat—a 7th round stoppage at the hands of Fury in their heavyweight championship rematch this past February at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. England’s Fury (30-0-1, 21KOs) threatened to move forward with a December 5 voluntary title defense versus Agit Kabayel at Royal Albert Hall in London, only for the event to never get off the ground.

Meanwhile, Wilder has assembled a short yet significant list of stated targets. One name in particular jumped out given the topic.

“Dillian Whyte, I want Dillian Whyte and I want Dillian Whyte,” insists Wilder. “The dude's obsessed with me. He acts like we went together and had a bad breakup and he can't get over me. Maybe he had some good pussy or something. No homo.

“He would be one on the list. [Former unified heavyweight titlist Andy] Ruiz would be one on the list.”

Ruiz (33-2, 22KOs) would be the more realistic option of the two, only due to England’s Whyte (27-2, 18KOs) already committed to a rematch with Alexander Povetkin next January, five months after having suffered a 5th round knockout this past August in Brentwood, Essex, England.

Absent those options, Wilder dives further down the list.

“As far as height, [6’6 ½” Robert] Helenius could come back in for me to get the height situation. You got [former heavyweight titlist Joseph] Parker, you got [former cruiserweight king and current heavyweight contender Oleksandr] Usyk— you know, I would love to fight him. He called me out at one point in time.

“There’s a lot of guys on the list. When that phone rings, just accept that call. Just accept that opportunity.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox