Arguably the biggest story in boxing this year has been the contentious negotiations between unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and WBC champ Deontay Wilder.
Both sides have blamed one other for the fight not happening and have gone their separate ways for the time being. Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) will defend his IBF, WBA and WBO belts on Sept. 22, when he takes on former titlist Alexander Povetkin, while Wilder is rumored to be on the verge of facing former unified and current lineal champion Tyson Fury (26-0, 19 KOs) in December.
Although both Fury and Joshua have impressive resumes — punctuated by victories over longtime heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko — Wilder feels that the man who ended Klitschko’s reign of terror in November 2015 is the better of the two.
“In this fighter’s point of view, yes, he is.
“I do consider Fury the third-best heavyweight in the world after myself and Luis Ortiz. I think Fury is going to be a challenging fight. I don’t think this is a fight that’s going to end early. I think this is a fight that is going to go until the middle rounds. I can’t wait for it.”
Many were surprised Monday when Fury took to Twitter and said he was in deep negotiations to face Wilder. Talks of a showdown between the two unorthodox heavyweights started when it became clear Joshua and Wilder wouldn’t be meeting in 2018.
“We started talking around when Joshua started talking about facing Povetkin,” Wilder said. “It all started with me and him having a private conversation. Tyson Fury is the lineal heavyweight champion and, don’t forget, he’s undefeated.
“No one has beaten him or taken his belts away from him. They were taken away because he was gone for two years. But now he’s back in business and he’s talking. We felt like it was time to happen and now it’s about to happen.”
The knock on Wilder has been that his resume doesn’t include the best heavyweights that the sport has to offer. Wilder spent much of his career facing lesser-known names while building an impressive knockout streak. The sentiment started to shift after the Alabama native defeated Ortiz by 10th-round TKO in March. In Wilder’s mind, if he beats Fury the same way he has won his previous 40 fights, then he will sit alone atop the mountain in boxing’s glamour division.
“This is a huge step,” Wilder said. “This step right here is going to solidify my spot permanently. Joshua may have the belts, but I’ll have everything else. He won’t have that title. I’ll have that title. I will be the man that truly has that title because I beat the man that beat the man first. Once I beat Fury, it’s over with. They’re already in a corner.
“There’s nowhere else they can go. This is the right time. This is the perfect time to make this fight. I’m excited. It’s going to be a wonderful fight. We’re both talkers and we are going to sell the hell out of this fight and people can look for an amazing fight to come and one that will be watched forever.”