Deontay Wilder finds himself between a rock and a hard place.
About a decade and a half ago, the former Olympic bronze medalist sent his competition stronger and stronger. However, after back-to-back defeats to Tyson Fury, his star power seemed to be fading.
But while the Alabama native was thinking about retirement, he dismissed the idea that he would hang up the gloves for good and returned to the ring last weekend against Robert Helenius. Desperate to re-establish himself in the heavyweight division, Wilder ended his man’s night in the first round.
Although the 36-year-old was proud of his latest success, his smile turned to sadness as he contemplated his next endeavor. While the former WBC title holder appears to be as strong as ever, he is well aware that the battleground for his next ring appearance has narrowed considerably.
“Most fighters see what I see I do,” Wilder told BoxingScene.com. “They can always say, ‘I can be one.’
Before leaving Helenius comatose in the middle of the ring, Wilder’s name was associated with a number of strong fighters, including Anthony Joshua, Andy Ruiz Jr., and the current unification champion, Oleksandr Usyk.
Among the aforementioned names, Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) views his enemy as a great challenge. As for Joshua, while he suffered a recent defeat at the hands of Usyk, Wilder insisted that the fight between them will still be considered the biggest in the boxing world. On the other hand, Ruiz extended his winning streak to two following his victory over Luis Ortiz earlier this year.
Finally, if the decision is his alone, there will be a fight between Wilder and Usyk from Ukraine. But, in any case, Wilder doubts that many of the heavyweight division’s best fighters will step up and challenge him.
“Hell nah, they’re not trying to get in the ring with me.”