After Tyson Fury outclassed Deontay Wilder in their second fight, many boxing fans thought the Bronze Bomber’s career was on the ropes. However, the former heavyweight champion’s brave performance in Tyson vs. Wilder III helped his stock rise despite losing.
Still, after the defeat, many thought the 36-year-old would hang up his gloves. But when speaking on his wife’s podcast last year (Telli Swift), Wilder said, “I’m feeling great, I’m doing great. We didn’t get what we wanted (against Fury), but we still got something out of it. I think we got something even bigger out of it besides just a victory."
His comments led many to think that this new mature-in-defeat Wilder could make a swift return. In February, the KO artist appeared on the Bryon Scott podcast (Off The Dribble). In the interview, Wilder mentioned that he would be open to using psychedelic drugs to help him decide on his career.
“I think I'm going to take a trip that I have to take. I'm thinking about doing Ayahuasca,' he told Byron Scott.
“That's going to be my decision-making process. Ayahuasca is something you take to take a spiritual journey. You're using DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) and things like that.”
After these comments, question marks remain on whether he will fight again. But, as we’ve seen with Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield returning to the ring last year, a fight purse is hard to turn down. Moreover, as Wilder likes living the high life, a juicy payday would probably convince him to put on the gloves regardless of the amount of DMT he decides to take.
But who is most likely to be the next dance partner for the former WBC heavyweight champion? We look at opponents that would generate enough interest for a PPV event.
At this point in time, a clash with Mexican-American heavyweight Andy Ruiz seems like the most likely option. Ruiz has said various times that he would like to face Wilder. Also, because Al Haymon represents both boxers, fight negotiations should be relatively squabble-free - in theory.
After losing his rematch with Anthony Joshua, Andy Ruiz beat fellow Mexcian-American Chris Arreola via unanimous decision. Although Ruiz’s last performance didn’t set the world alight, people will pay good money to see him enter the ring with Wilder. The Destroyer would see this fight as the launching pad he needs to get another title shot.
But because Wilder has struggled against skillful boxers in the past, he might duck Ruiz. Nevertheless, a fight against two former champions based in the states would secure a huge payday for both parties.
Seeing Wilder in the ring with Joshua seemed highly unlikely until Oleksander Usyk joined his nation’s army to protect Ukraine from the Russian invasion. Joshua will have to wait for a chance to win back his belts from Usyk. As a result, he is now facing a battle to stay relevant. But a win against Wilder would put this problem to bed.
Wilder has called out Joshua multiple times and therefore thinks he has what it takes to beat the Brit. The main obstacle that could stop this bout from materializing is Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn. After the morale-zapping defeat against Usyk last September, Hearn would prefer his cash cow to have a tune-up fight instead of a potentially career-ending fight against the Alabama Slammer. Still, Joshua will have the final say.
Despite not being the biggest of names, an all-American showdown with Michael Hunter would secure a big US crowd. After rising through the weight classes to battle with the giants, Hunter has built up an impressive 20-1-1 record - his only loss came against current WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO heavyweight champion Oleksander Usyk at cruiserweight.
Hunter won eight and drew one of his nine heavyweight bouts - the draw was against Alexander Povetkin in Saudi Arabia on the Ruiz-Joshua 2 undercard. However, many thought the American had done more than enough to win the fight.
For "The Bounty", a victory against Wilder would give him an opportunity to take Wilder’s place as the best heavyweight in the US.
The fearless Dillian Whyte has already tried to get a match with Wilder by calling him "deluded and confused" and labeling him a “fraud clown ”. Although Whyte’s trash talk didn’t get him what he wanted, it has established a tasty rivalry. Considering these two powerhouses have 60 KOs between them (Whyte - 19, Wilder - 41), it wouldn’t take much to hype this clash up.
However, if Whyte beats Fury in April, he might keep his mouth shut and cherrypick some easier options. With the caliber of opponents he’s faced in the last few years, you couldn’t blame him. But as online sportsbook BetUS has Whyte as a +425 underdog to beat the Gypsy King, Wilder facing the Londoner at the tail end of 2022 seems like a likely prospect.
Despite being slow and relatively unknown outside of the UK, overcoming Joe Joyce’s granite chin and cardio would put Wilder back in the conversation for a title shot. At 13-0, the Brit is the mandatory challenger for Usyk's WBO crown - but the likelihood of this happening is anyone’s guess. So, if Usyk is still fighting on the frontline in Ukraine, a match against Wilder is highly possible.
But as challenging the Bronze Bomber is a dangerous option, the Brit might try and keep his mandatory-challenger hopes alive and face someone with less pedigree.