By Scott Gilfoid: Deontay ‘The Bronze Bomber’ Wilder has mapped out his course for unifying the heavyweight division in 2018 by beating Luis Ortiz and then defeating the winner of Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker fight to become the undisputed champion of the division.
Wilder, Ortiz, Joshua and Parker are involved in an unofficial heavyweight championship tournament in 2018. Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) defends WBC title against Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs) on March 3. IBF/WBA heavyweight champion Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) will be fighting WBO champ Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) in a unification fight on March 31.
Parker and Joshua will know who they’ll be facing between Wilder and Ortiz by the time they battle it out on March 31. They can then decide whether they want to square off with the winner of that fight in 2018 or not. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn seems to have other ideas of wanting to match him against Tyson Fury this year in the summer. It’s unclear whether Hearn is having second thoughts about putting Joshua in with Wilder.
The original idea was for Joshua to face Wilder in his second fight of 2018 in the summer. But now that Hearn is targeting Fury as Joshua’s second fight this year, it suggests that there might be some worry on his part about whether AJ can get the job done against Wilder. If Hearn truly believed that the 28-year-old Joshua could beat Wilder, he’d make that fight in the summer and then schedule the Fury fight for December.
“I have no doubt that I will win my bout. I will knock out Luis Ortiz out – I will do what I do best, I am a knockout artist. I specialize in it. I will display that,” said Wilder to Sky Sports news. “The winner goes on to fight the winner of Joshua-Parker. The heavyweight division is very special and it’s important for one man to have all the belts.”
If Joshua captures all 4 of the heavyweight titles in 2018, he’ll be a huge star worldwide. I would suspect that Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn will attempt to put his fights on pay-per-view in the U.S, hoping that the boxing fans in the States will be willing to purchase his fights the way that the UK fans do. I see that as an overreach on Hearn’s part and an ultimate fail.
I doubt that U.S fans will want to pay to see Joshua fight on PPV in the States due to their interest not being high in watching heavyweight fights. Moreover, Joshua would still be too obscure of a fighter for the U.S casual boxing fans to want to watch him on PPV. Historically, the foreign fighters that have broken into the U.S PPV market have invested time in fighting in the States repeatedly to get fans interested in watching them fight. The U.S fans adopt these fighters in a way by making them one of their own. We saw that with Lennox Lewis, Manny Pacquiao, Saul Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. The fans still haven’t gotten on Golovkin’s bandwagon enough to want to pay to see him fight in the U.S.
It will be nice for one heavyweight champion to have all the titles in his possession in the division. However, if Wilder, Parker or Ortiz emerges as the top heavyweight in the division after the smoke clears, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be the most popular fighter. I suspect that Joshua will continue to be the most popular guy of the 4 heavyweights due to his huge loyal fan base in the UK.
Joshua has the entire UK that is huge fans of his. Wilder, Parker and Ortiz haven’t built up that kind of a following that Joshua has. Joshua’s boxing fans aren’t going to disappear on him right away if he gets knocked out by Parker or the winner of the Wilder-Ortiz fight. Those fans will stay with Joshua. For Joshua’s fans to abandon him entirely, he’ll need to see his boxing career crumble the way 2000 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist Audley Harrison’s career did when he started suffering losses in his 5th year as a pro in 2005.
What’s interesting is that Joshua is right about the same period in his career that Audley was in when he began to lose left and right. That’s not to say that Joshua see his career go belly up the way Harrison’s did in year 5, but it’s certainly possible. Harrison had problems when he began to meet up with sluggers that pushed a fast pace against him. In Joshua’s last 2 fights against Wladimir Klitschko and Carlos Takam, we’ve started to see him struggle with the power, pressure and the work rate. Joshua seems to be slowing down, and laboring the way that older fights do when they’re getting on in years.
Joshua is only 28, but it doesn’t matter. Sometimes fighters get old early, especially when they start adding lots of weight. In terms of the cardiovascular system, I don’t think it matters whether it’s muscle or fat that the heart is required to pump blood to. A heavyweight that’s carrying around a lot of useless weight the way Joshua is with his heavily muscled physique, they get tired easily. That’s just the way it is.
Since it doesn’t look like Joshua is interested in parting with the huge muscles that he’s put on since he turned pro in 2013, you can expect his stamina problems to continue to be present during his fights. If anything, Joshua’s conditioning problems could worsen with age. Adding more muscle could hurt Joshua’s ability to fight hard even more. That’s why it’s important that he try and get down to a weight that is easier for his cardiovascular system to deal with. Joshua’s weight of 254 pounds is clearly too much for him to be effective long term when facing the best. I think Joshua will still beat most heavyweights at that weight, but he might come unglued against Parker, Wilder or Ortiz in 2018.
Wilder expects to smash the 38-year-old Ortiz on March 3 in their fight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Wilder is absolutely confident that he’ll get the 6’4” Cuban Ortiz out of there inside the distance so that he can move on to the finals of the 4-fighter heavyweight tournament in 2018. Wilder sees Joshua as possibly having problems with Parker on March 31. Wilder likes Parker’s ring IQ, and he feels he can give Joshua a big headache if he follows his training teams’ game plan to the letter.