WHO'S NEXT FOR DEONTAY WILDER?
By TOM WATT on June 18 2015
Last weekend, Deontay Wilder overcame Eric Molina in a 9th round KO to defend his WBC Heavyweight belt for the first time and take his record to an impressive 34-0 with 33 KOs. This was Wilder’s first voluntary defence and came against a man ranked 7th by the WBC. Molina is certainly not a bum but nobody ever thought he stood a chance and the fact he rocked Wilder in the third round was almost more of a story than the fact he was down 3 times on the way to being defeated by the Bronze Bomber.
Criticism of his opponents is something Wilder will be used to by now and it’s fairly legitimate to say that his record isn’t bristling with marquee names and the top fighters of the generation and fans will continue to say that he has been over-protected and carefully managed. It’s true, Wilder does have a lot of commercial sponsorship riding on him and his brand, he has been managed well on his way to building his perfect record but there is another side to that coin and that is the fact that there hasn’t been a raft of legitimate heavyweight contenders to choose from over the last few years. The landscape has shifted dramatically over the last few years though and out of the wilderness has come a pool of Heavyweight talent to challenge the existing order.
Here in Australia, Lucas ‘Big Daddy’ Browne (22-0-0, 19 KOs) has steadily risen in the rankings across all the Governing bodies and now sits as mandatory challenger for the WBA World Title held by Ruslan Chagaev (Klitschko holds the title of ‘Super Champion’). This fight was due to go to purse bids earlier this year but after former challenger, Fres Oquendo took Chagaev to court for not honouring his rematch clause this fight has slipped into the background and it’s rumoured Chagaev is due to face Italy’s Francesco Pianeta in Germany on July 11th although Oquendo’s team are intent on following up on their injunction. The whole situation is a mess and has left Browne in the awkward position of sitting on a mandatory sport for a Title that itself is up in the air. Browne is a talented fighter with hands of stone, master trainer, Jeff Fenech and many others have stated Browne is the heaviest hitter in the division at the moment and has a right hand similar to that of the legendary Mike Tyson. Browne and Wilder have exchanged numerous words on Twitter and if this fight was to be made, don’t expect it to go the distance! For the moment it seems Browne’s promoter, Ricky Hatton is content to wait for the WBA opportunity to arise but if a shot at the WBC champ was to presented then it would surely be an offer too good to turn down.
On the other side of the World, the UK is having a Heavyweight revolution of it’s own and probably boasts the most competitive domestic scene with established fighters such as Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury through to top prospects Anthony Joshua and Dillian White and everything in between. Fury is mandatory challenger for Wladimir Klitschko and talks are in place for that fight to happen in the coming months in either Germany or England, Fury’s promoter, Frank Warren has said he fully expects the negotiations to go to purse bids. Fury and Wilder have both stated they would love to fight each other but Fury seems focused on toppling the long-standing Champion before moving on to the Bronze Bomber.
Elsewhere, former Olympic Gold Medallist Anthony Joshua, fresh off the back of his 2 round demolition of American Kevin ‘Kingpin’ Johnson is now ranked #2 by the WBC so it seems it won’t be long before he is put into a mandatory position. Joshua is a fighter that seemingly possesses it all, tremendous physique, commitment, power and ring IQ and Klitschko has commented several times that he expects Joshua to pick up and dominate the division once he has retired. Joshua is being managed well by his promoter Eddie Hearn who will be in no rush to push his fighter, he is a young man with a long career and his chances will come. That being said, Molina’s last victory before getting his shot against Wilder was an 8th round TKO of Raphael Zumbano Love – a man who Joshua walked through in two short rounds. The fight with Joshua is one of the biggest in terms of money for Wilder – a World Heavyweight Title clash between 2 former Olympians (Wilder took bronze in 2008) from the UK and USA, two tremendous athletes with two huge fan-bases, would be huge and I’d be surprised if this wasn’t already being talked about their respective teams as one to be made for the future.
As far as domestic competition goes, Bryant Jennings, fresh off the back of his defeat in New York to Wladimir Klitschko seems the most obvious choice for an all-American Heavyweight World Title showdown, Bryant is another impressive athlete with a stature that could match Wilder. Jennings is ranked #4 by the WBC so again should be an easy fight to make although with Jenning’s relatively low fan-base (in comparison to Anthony Joshua for example) this is a very high-risk, low-reward fight for Wilder and his team and as we have seen so many times before, the risk may not match the reward.
Another American that has dragged his way into title contention – partly through his record and a lot through his Social Media campaigns is former Champion, Shannon Briggs whose tagline “Lets Go Champ” has become synonymous with his stalking of Wladimir Klitschko as he looks to force a fight with the Ukrainian. Brigg’s shenanigans have made him a real cult hero in some parts of the Boxing World and a fight with Wilder could legitimately be on the cards – as far as building a fight goes, only Tyson Fury would rival Briggs in terms of pre-fight build-up and entertainment and for that reason alone I would be happy to see this fight made.
There are other options out there for Wilder and given his team's previous record it would be foolish to assume he will 100% fight one of the top contenders mentioned above, other options such as Chris Arreola and a rematch with Stiverne offer a much safer route to keeping hold of the belt and whilst Wilder himself may be happy to take the harder fights, the men behind the man will have their say before any pen is put to paper. The Molina fight showed that Wilder can be hurt and that will give hope to whoever team Wilder choose to take on next - as Heavyweight Champion of The World, Wilder will come under even more intense scrutiny should he choose to avoid any of the big names mentioned above and that should hopefully be enough to ensure we see a competitive fight for that coveted Green Belt, my choices would be Browne or Fury, Browne offers power Wilder hasn’t yet faced and Fury is one of the few that can match him for size so both would be a new challenge we have yet to see Wilder overcome. For now though we wait to see who Team Wilder choose as their next opponent to try and de-throne the Bronze Bomber.
1. FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.
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