When Tyson Fury surprised betting tipsters and media commentators by battering Deontay Wilder into submission in their rematch, and Anthony Joshua did a more routine demolition job on Kubrat Pulev, it seemed for all the world that the two British world champions were set on a collision course. One that had heavyweight boxing/MMA betting odds and tipster columns buzzing online. Indeed, if Eddie Hearn’s enthusiasm was anything to go by, it seemed odds-on that the fight would take place this summer rather than being pushed back till the end of the year.
However, nothing is ever a done deal in boxing until the fighters are brought to the center of the ring to touch gloves. It seems as though Bob Arum and his American TV partners had always planned to throw a spanner in the works of Hearn’s new partnership with streaming platform DAZN.
The upshot of this is that Fury must now complete a trilogy with Wilder, in a fight that he must be confident of winning after the manner in which their second bout ended. Meanwhile, Joshua has a far tougher assignment on paper against one of the most decorated amateur heavyweights in history, in the form of former undisputed cruiserweight champion, Oleksandr Usyk.
Here we take an in-depth look at the two men who could derail the best-laid plans of the British heavyweight titans, causing upsets that would lay waste to the heavyweight landscape and possibly see another fracturing of all the belts.
If Wilder losses again to Fury, then it will surely be time for him to hang up the gloves once and for all
Deontay Wilder – Denial Does Not Matter When You Punch Like Wilder
When you have a knockout record like Deontay Wilder’s it is hard for you to ever imagine being able to lose. There were danger signs when he managed to KO Luis Ortiz has been well down on the scorecards. Likewise against Fury in their first fight, he was able to blame a referee’s slow count for not adding another KO to his record.
However, he was left clutching at straws after being systematically beaten up by Fury in their rematch, ultimately blaming his defeat on a heavy ring walk outfit and Fury having tampered with his gloves.
Much has been made of these unsubstantiated claims and have left people wondering if Wilder is dedicated to getting better or whether he is happier living in cloud cuckoo land.
The problem for Fury, though, is that no matter how deluded Wilder may or may not be, he still has proverbial dynamite in his right hand, which makes him a dangerous proposition for as long as he is still standing. Fury knows this all too well, having been sent to the canvas twice during their epic first encounter.
Since going into self-imposed boxing exile, Wilder has made wholesale changes to his training team, doing away with long-time coach Jay Deas as well as his experienced mentor and cuts man Mark Breland, despite the latter probably saving his career by throwing in the towel to call an end to Wilder’s suffering in the last fight.
The new man in Wilder’s corner is former opponent Malik Scott, who appears to be the Bronzed Bomber’s new one-man training team. Although it is unclear whether this combination will add anything new to Wilder’s effective and yet limited arsenal of weapons, what is clear from video footage is that he is in good shape, and perhaps getting back to keeping his upper body lean rather than bulking up as he did to his detriment last time out.
The worry is that Fury will take Wilder lightly or engage in too many exchanges in the early rounds, which could leave the door open for that lethal right hand to do what it does best.
All four athletes have already been training hard for their respective upcoming bouts
Oleksandr Usyk – The Bogey Man That No One Wants to Face
There will have been some serious discussions in the Joshua camp about whether it was really worth holding onto the WBO world title belt because the sanctioning body’s mandatory challenger is the much-avoided and feared Oleksandr Usyk.
Not wanting to abandon his dream of becoming undisputed heavyweight champ, Joshua appears to have accepted the Ukrainian’s challenge rather than vacating. While admirable, it could be a decision he lives to regret. At the age of 34, Usyk’s body is slowly breaking down with reports of injuries emerging from his most recent training camps, and so making him wait longer for his shot at Joshua or Fury would have been a wiser decision. After all, belts in boxing are becoming more meaningless by the day and the WBO version could have been mopped up later.
The reason for this word of warning is that Joshua has arguably not faced anyone as technically sound as Usyk since the Brit was gifted controversial decisions at the 2012 Olympics against first Erislandy Savón and then Roberto Cammarelle. Both those men were compact heavyweights with strong fundamentals, and neither had the footwork or hand speed of Usyk. This should mean that alarm bells are ringing in the Joshua camp.
So far, the line his promoters have been putting out there is that he will be too big and powerful for Usyk, and that could well be the case. But the longer Usyk manages to stay in the fight, the more difficult it could become for Joshua to fend off the Ukrainian’s stinging combinations, something which Andy Ruiz already exposed as one of Joshua’s main weaknesses.
All this means that Fury could well end up facing Usyk for all the belts sometime later in the year, a fight which will be shown on an established American television network rather than DAZN, with Joshua left to rebuild in a daunting rematch against Dillian Whyte or against another up and coming to Brit like Joe Joyce.
Of course, boxing fans everywhere will be hoping that is not the case and that Fury and Joshua can remain on course towards their undisputed dreams.