Sunday, June 16, 2024  |



No waiting game: Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder needs to happen right away

Fighters Network

With his one-round destruction of Bermane Stiverne on Saturday, Deontay Wilder did far more than eviscerate the one man who had lasted the distance with him.

He finally — after all these years of searching, waiting and wishing — set off a siren’s call for a heavyweight super fight.

Yes, even casual sports fans are now clamoring for a summit heavyweight meeting between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, two mountains of men who also happen to double as the biggest punchers in the sport.

Sure, we’ve had some Floyd Mayweather fights that have crossed over into the mainstream, but those bouts did nothing to lift the sport long term. Only a heavyweight title tilt can truly invigorate the masses, and in Joshua and Wilder, we have the requisite dance partners.

Two handsome guys who look the part, own incredible physiques and perhaps most importantly, are at the peak of their respective careers.

But will boxing jump in its own way once again by letting this fight “marinate,” as Bob Arum once put it? In the heavyweight division, you’re always one punch away from disaster, and that’s why Eddie Hearn and Al Haymon need to come together to consummate a deal now.

No interim fights. No build up. Just make the fight.

Because after Wilder emphatically laid waste to Stiverne with three devastating knockdowns, the fight couldn’t be hotter.

The former heavyweight titleholder was left unconscious, his head resting on the bottom rope as referee Arthur Mercante Jr. had to rip Wilder off his beaten foe. The highlights caught fire. Even mainstream media outlets are beating the drums for the fight.

And of course, what boxing usually does in this situation is make us wait.

They made us sit around five-plus years to watch Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao waltz for 12 rounds.

They made us wait more than two years to watch Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin deliver — and more — in a thrilling bout.

But size matters. And while Joshua-Wilder isn’t going to surpass either fight domestically at the box office, it should invigorate a sport that has enjoyed a truly fine campaign in 2017.

When is the last time you were excited to see two heavyweights mix it up? When is the last time anyone was excited?

Sure, Wladimir Klitschko and Joshua put on a classic in April, but the hype heading into the bout was room temperature.

The way Joshua, and Wilder in particular, can flap their lips, this meeting of gargantuan punchers could — and should — evolve into super fight territory.

But we shouldn’t have to wait. Not just because the fight is hot now, but because both men have displayed vulnerable chins. One defeat — hell, even one shaky performance — could scuttle the momentum.

And it really doesn’t matter where the fight takes place. Wilder says he will travel to England to unify the three belts, and after he already signed to fight Alexander Povetkin in Russia, there’s no reason to believe he’s lying.

The bout would be a truly massive event in England, where Joshua already is a star. Another sell out of Wembley Stadium seems an easy feat, plus millions more watching there on pay-per-view.

Wilder is trying to get to that point, and Joshua wants to be a star here, too.

What better way for the Brit to make his U.S. debut and enter the American market than with a unification fight against a fellow undefeated titleholder?

Joshua-Wilder has all the makings to be the biggest heavyweight title fight since Lennox Lewis knocked out Mike Tyson in 2002, even if this matchup won’t approach that kind of success. It doesn’t have to, though.

Surely they could sell out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, with thousands of drunk, singing Joshua fans making the trek over from the U.K. And surely the bout could sell in the 300- to 500,000 range on PPV.

But the sides need to strike when the irons hot.

Just make the fight. Do it now.

Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger