WBC HEAVYWEIGHT champion Deontay Wilder believes 2018 will be the year he claims the undisputed world heavyweight throne.
The 32-year-old American has stated “kings chase kings” in his declaration of war on Britain’s Anthony Joshua, who holds the WBA and IBF pieces of the crown, in an attempt to push for a multi-million pound mega showdown next year.
One of the key question surrounding the proposed blue ribbon super-fight is the battlefield. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has mooted England Rugby’s 82,000-capacity Twickenham Stadium as a possible venue while the untold riches of Las Vegas should also hold great appeal.
“It’s the fight everyone wants to see,” Wilder’s trainer Jay Deas told Boxing News. “AJ wants the fight. We want the fight. We don’t care where it is so if it was in the UK that’s not an issue.
“It is very easy to think that if there’s more people, there’s more money. If you look at what Las Vegas can do, it’s a whole different world with casino revenue and projected income that will come from that. They can do things that a lot of other places can’t do. If this fight does come to America, Las Vegas would be in the driver’s seat. All of the external stuff doesn’t matter to Deontay. The guy would fight on the moon if he had to.”
Hearn meanwhile has already launched a preemptive strike by involving Dillian Whyte as part of the potential deal, where Wilder would face the “Body Snatcher” first on February 3 in London before stepping in the ring with Joshua.
“That doesn’t make sense to me,” Deas said. “That would be like us saying, ‘We’re the bigger draw so before you fight us, Joshua has to come to the U.S. and face Jarrell Miller,’ to prove he’s legitimate enough to fight Deontay. We’re not like that so why should Deontay fight Dillian Whyte first?
“Is Eddie trying to insinuate that Wilder v Joshua is not going to sell? That somehow it needs additional build-up?”
Deas added: “That fight beforehand seems to me like he’s relegating Deontay to a second tier level. It’s like Eddie thinks he’s calling all the shots but we are a champion too and we want to come on equal ground. There would be no problem with the Whyte fight if the terms were right but if we’ve both had mandatory fights right on schedule, why not just put the two A-list stars together?”
Of course, this supersize fight between Joshua and Wilder may not happen right away in this modern day heavyweight Game of Thrones. Joshua’s team are looking to collect the last piece of the prize by fighting New Zealand’s Joseph Parker at the start of 2018.
Should Joshua beat Parker before facing Wilder, it would mean all four legitimate heavyweight world titles would be on the line for the first time in boxing history after the inception of the WBO in 1988.
“That would be huge for the sport,” said Deas. “But a mixture of the boards, the officials and fans should all be in unison so when it comes to the winner, and hopefully they won’t be immediately stripped of a belt because one person says, ‘now, you’ve got a month to defend against this guy,’ – the public has to come into play there and make a mockery of anybody that tries to do that.
“One champion, one face, one name is the best way for the sport and in the heavyweight division, we believe that face will be Deontay Wilder.”
Wilder and Joshua have a combined record of 58 knockouts between them, with Joshua unbeaten in his first 20 contests while Wilder has been swinging and chopping his way to 39 unchallenged wins, with 38 inside the distance.
Many will think it would be a ‘one punch wins all’ contest but Deas has a different view.
“Deontay has a lot more experience in terms of the number of fights he’s had but AJ is a tremendous fighter,” he said. “He’s very athletic, he’s big and strong and he’s in the prime of his career.
“I think it’s going to be more of a tactical fight. There will be a lot of things happening inside the ring that maybe the average person wouldn’t see. And either guy is just one punch away from having their hand raised because they are both really powerful punchers. Nobody in the ring or in the crowd can lose focus for a second with a fight like this.”
Wilder’s most dangerous weapons might just be the big swinging fierce punches in his relentless efforts to score a knockout. He has always deployed this unique style, the most recent victim being Bermane Stiverne, who was flattened inside a round. Some, though, have suggested the wild nature of his attacks will be his downfall.
“He has always swung punches like that,” said Deas. “But of course, we’ve refined his technique over the years and worked on his jab, straight hands and other textbook punches. He always had that kind of awkwardness about him, though; in the way he did some things.
“At first, I tried to get that out of him and smooth it all out but he’s surprisingly very accurate when he does that. It’s quite effective. So I thought, ‘why not include that?’ I’d like him to focus on the textbook stuff but if his awkward punches work too, I’ll let him do that. There’s no real planning behind that because nobody else does what he can do with those punches.”
For comparison, Deas added: “It’s a little bit like (Britain’s former world featherweight champion) Naseem Hamed. The worst thing you could do with a guy like Naseem was make him a textbook boxer. Naseem was effective because he had his own way of doing things. They were things you couldn’t prepare for. Deontay is the same way.”
Wilder hopes to reign as a heavyweight king for 10 more years and Deas revealed the number his fighter has in mind before considering hanging up the gloves in his abdication.
“Deontay’s motivation is to be the first heavyweight to 50-0 because then he can see the light at the end of the tunnel. You never really know what will happen in someone’s career but providing everything went well and he’s injury-free, I think Deontay can do that and I think he has about six-to-eight years left in him to do just that.”