Deontay Wilder elevated to #1 WBA – could he face Usyk next?

By Boxing News - 04/01/2023 - Comments

By Craig Daly: Deontay Wilder has been moved to #1 in the WBA’s heavyweight rankings, putting him in a position to potentially challenge IBF/WBA/WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk next.

With the #1 ranking, Wilder could face Usyk next if his management offers the current WBA mandatory Daniel Dubois a step aside to get him out of the way. Dubois is coming off a bad knee injury, so it would work in his favor to take a step aside to give himself more time to recover.

If Dubois can get an agreement to where he’s guaranteed to fight the Usyk vs.  Wilder winner, he could come out ahead in a big way.

Not only would Dubois get step-aside money, but he could get a fight against Wilder if he’s victorious over Usyk. There would likely be more money for Dubois facing Wilder than Usyk.

As long as Dubois and his promoter aren’t stubborn, they can get a much bigger fight if they’re willing to step aside to allow Wilder to face Usyk.

Dubois looked horrible in his last fight in December, getting dropped three times by the much smaller former cruiserweight Kevin Lerena, and seemingly saved from getting stopped by the referee letting the contest continue to play out despite Daniel suffering a bad knee injury.

Dubois was uninjured when he was dropped by a straight left hand from the southpaw Lerena in the first, so you can’t blame that on his knee injury. When Dubois fell,  he hurt his knee and was helpless and continued to fall each time Lerena touched him with a left hand.

What was surprising is Lerena stopped throwing punches after the first round. It’s unclear whether he gassed out or thought he would get Dubois out in the later rounds. It was very odd.

The World Boxing Association must have liked what they saw from former WBC champion Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) with his blistering first-round knockout over top-ten contender Robert Helenius last October in Brooklyn, New York.

Some fans feel unhappy that Wilder moved ahead of Martin Bakole (18-1, 13 KOs) in the WBA’s rankings, as he recently defeated previously unbeaten 2016 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist Tony Yoka by a 10-round majority decision last May.

While that victory for the 29-year-old Bakole looked great then, much of the shine was taken away from it when 42-year-old Carlos Takam defeated Yoka by a 10-round split decision last March.

Takam looked better at beating Yoka than Bakole did despite being much older.