2018 looks set to be the year the magic returns to the Heavyweight boxing division. With Anthony Joshua holding two belts, Deontay Wilder holding the WBC title, and New Zealand’s Joseph Parker holding the WBO belt, the division is set for a collision course between the unbeaten fighters. Then there’s just the not-so-small matter of Tyson Fury.
Many are expecting Anthony Joshua to try and unify the belts in the coming year, and provide the world with the first Undisputed Heavyweight Champion for the first time in decades.
Joshua is likely to prove to have too much for any matchup with Parker, although the 25-year-old fighter is also unbeaten with a 24-0 record. But, surely, the greatest pairing would be between Joshua and Wilder.
Joshua v Wilder
Living up to his name, Wilder is certainly one of the wildest fighters in the boxing game. His savage first-round knockout of Bermaine Stiverne showed how much the Alabama-born fighter has come on in the last couple of years – having scraped past Stiverne in 2015 with a decision victory after 12 gruelling rounds.
Wilder throws everything into every punch – sometimes leaving himself exposed. But if any fighter is to knock out Anthony Joshua, it can only be him.
It will be a travesty if these two fighters – both at the top of their game – don’t meet in 2018. And, you’d expect – unlike a potential Joshua-Fury fight – the fight certainly won’t disappoint.
Unsurprising, Joshua is the favourite, with boxing betting odds of around 2/5 on him winning any potential encounter. On the other hand, Wilder is a quite generous 5/2 shot.
Joshua is a much more considered fighter than Wilder, but both fighters boast the power to knock the other out. The Englishman would surely try to counter-punch against the highly-offensive Wilder, who loves to showboat, with a knockout blow more likely to be delivered from Joshua in the latter stages of the fight as Wilder tires. On the other hand, the unpredictability, power and brashness of Wilder could see him land a winner at any point.
The biggest barrier to making this fight happen though is likely to come in the form of Deontay Wilder’s expected pay. Anthony Joshua is the star attraction and golden boy in world boxing right now, and his pay will undoubtedly be reflected in this. Wilder, however, doesn’t have the same kind of momentum behind him, so he’ll need to accept that he won’t be on the same terms as the British fighter if he wants a meeting to happen.
And it’s not like Eddie Hearn is short of potential options for Joshua, with a super British fight with Tyson Fury also an option. It’s one the British public would especially like, with a hugely popular Joshua taking on the hugely unpopular Fury.
Nevertheless, Joshua-Wilder is the one boxing fans really want to see – and the one that is needed if we want to see a unified champion.