While a third bout between WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and former titleholder Deontay Wilder is contractually agreed upon, there is a chance that Fury could instead face Anthony Joshua -- who has possession of the other three major belts -- in what would be an all-British battle for supremacy of the division.
Regardless of where this bout would take place, it would be the biggest fight to be made in boxing right now. Both are considered among the best heavyweights on the planet and both are among the sport's biggest draws.
Before the process can advance further, Wilder would have to clear out and allow the fight. Will it happen? Steve Kim and Timothy Bradley Jr. take a look at how this fight could play out.
Should Wilder step aside?
Kim: Yes, if the step-aside money is at a certain level. You don't always get a chance to earn millions in boxing by doing nothing, but that in essence is what happens when you take a step-aside fee. Beyond the money, Wilder would want the agreement to promise him a crack at the Fury-Joshua winner within a certain time frame.
Keep this in mind: Wilder announced that he had surgery after his loss to Fury in February. So his physical status is a bit uncertain. Also, given the harsh nature of that defeat -- he didn't just suffer his first loss, but was stopped -- it wouldn't be the worst idea for Wilder to mend both physically and psychologically a bit longer.
Bradley: If he wants to get paid big money, he should take the step-aside money. The fight that everybody wants to see right now is Fury-Joshua. I know I don't want to see Fury-Wilder III, and I'm pretty sure the fans don't want to see another fight, because of the way Wilder got beat down by Tyson Fury.
The fans will be like, "I'm not paying for that -- Fury's going to beat him up again." Not having fights right now is actually buying us time so that we don't have to see it at the moment -- it's actually helping Wilder.
Pride is one thing. Business is another. I understand his take on getting his belt back, but there has to be a plan. He has to become a better boxer if he's ever going to beat Fury. He cannot go into the ring the same way. Why rush back in there without training, without doing what you need to do, without adding to your craft and changing a few things in your training camp?
I understand pride. Pride can sometimes make fighters make foolish mistakes. That's why you've gotta have smart people around you to tell you what you should do. Because you're not thinking straight. You're not thinking like a businessman. A lot of people will say, "Oh, he needs to go and get his $26 million," or whatever he's supposed to be offered for a rematch, but that money's not there. How are you going to be able to generate that much money? I just don't see it, especially with this pandemic and the state of boxing. I just don't see Wilder there until he builds himself back up. He got destroyed.
Should Wilder take another fight in the interim? Against whom?
Fury drops Wilder in Round 3
Tyson Fury lands a looping right hand that drops Deontay Wilder in the third round. Buy Wilder vs. Fury II on ESPN+.
Kim: Given that Wilder says he will be incorporating another trainer or two onto his team, a test run against lesser opposition would be a prudent decision. But against whom? Remember, you're not looking for a "real" fight that could jeopardize a fight with Fury or Joshua, but just someone who is credible yet doesn't pose much of a threat.
Robert Helenius, who recently upset Adam Kownacki, is probably a bit too dangerous for this assignment. But Gerald Washington or Dominic Breazeale fit the bill. Yeah, Wilder has defeated both of them already, but so what? What is key here is that both are taller in stature -- a good test for his next bout -- and Wilder can go into the fight with confidence, knowing he knocked both of them out in the past. This fight isn't just a test run with new trainers, but also is designed to be a confidence builder. And since both potential opponents are with Premier Boxing Champions, these are easy fights to make. Bryant Jennings, who's capable, but not really a puncher, would also make sense.
Bradley: The longer Wilder and Fury stay away from each other, the better this fight will be built. Wilder should take the step-aside money and take a tune-up fight. Get better, work on his craft, get prepared and build another fight, with Fury or Joshua.
Allow Joshua and Fury to duke it out. Whoever wins, then Wilder can step in and fight the winner for all of the belts. That would be the smartest thing he could possibly do. He can get a good win against a good, credible heavyweight and bounce back from his knockout loss. Get his confidence back, because his confidence right now is shot. And he's not going to make the money that he thinks he's going to make by rushing right back into a third fight with Fury.
There's a couple of good heavyweights out there that Wilder can face. You've got Dillian Whyte; Charles Martin, who's a southpaw. I think an Andy Ruiz Jr. fight would be good for Wilder as well. Ruiz is the type of fighter who brings it to you. He's not going to run anywhere, and that'd be good for Wilder, to learn how to box -- set traps and set things up, move, figure out how to punch from different angles, and just learn different tricks of the trade.
Wilder needs to learn how to protect himself. Learn how to make guys miss, instead of standing straight up. That's his biggest problem -- if you swing at Wilder, he stands straight up. He doesn't move his head left or right. Wilder has a lot of fundamental flaws.
If Wilder decides to wait for the Fury-Joshua winner, which opponent gives Wilder the best chance to win?
Bradley: I think Joshua is a better matchup for Wilder. I know Joshua showed a different wrinkle in his last fight. He showed that he can train differently, he showed that he can box off the back foot a little bit in his last fight against Ruiz. But I don't think Joshua will sit there and trade with Wilder. Wilder would have to pick up his feet, which he likes to do, and march forward. That would fit his style.
Fury's got a more herky-jerky style. Great ring generalship, lots of feints. He makes guys think -- they have to judge when he's going to attack. He's got a very difficult style to deal with, and he switches to southpaw as well. He can do it all.
I think Joshua would be a lot better fit for a guy like Wilder. He's more of a midrange type of fighter, that's when he's at his best, hitting guys with counterpunches and hard shots.
Is Joshua a bigger threat to Fury than Wilder?
Kim: At this moment, yes. Not only did Wilder get stopped in his last fight, he's coming off surgery. We really don't know if he'll ever be the same after getting dominated by Fury. As for Joshua, while he certainly has proved to be vulnerable, he is coming off a victory, as he evened the score against Andy Ruiz Jr. in their rematch in December. It was far from an entertaining performance, but Joshua was able to box and move effectively.
Joshua doesn't have the boxing IQ of Fury, but from a technical and fundamental standpoint, he is superior to Wilder and has heavy hands -- 21 KOs in 24 outings. What we know from the two bouts with Wilder is that Fury has dominated the action in both, tactically in the first bout and physically in the rematch. Not many expect the third chapter to be any different.
Who wins Joshua-Fury if the fight happens?
Kim: Fury is the best heavyweight in the world. Not only is he the biggest, but now he's using his size with the fabled Kronk style, which is predicated on marching forward and being aggressive. In the past, Fury would box his way to victory, but now he understands that his size is a real asset and he's coming off his front foot much more. Joshua is a sound fighter, but he's also a tad stiff and mechanical, and you wonder if he can hit Fury consistently. If Fury fights Joshua in the same manner he did Wilder in the rematch, does Joshua have a reverse gear? I don't believe he does.
Right now, there is no heavyweight on the planet who defeats Fury.
Bradley: When you look at Fury and what he's done, and what he's overcome, it's hard not to go for a guy like that, and not lean toward a guy with that much size and that much fluidity and ring IQ. Going back to the second Wilder fight, he told us exactly what he was going to do and he actually did it.
You don't get many fighters who actually call their shot. One of the only other guys like that was Muhammad Ali. He would tell you what he was going to do, what round he was going to knock you out in and then actually do it.
I think Fury's a special fighter, a special heavyweight right now in this era, and I believe that he can do it all. He can box Joshua, if Joshua wants to come forward. If Joshua wants to go back, Fury has shown that he can come forward as well, with the Kronk style -- be cautious, but also gritty and rough you up on the inside.
There's nothing that Fury can't do in the ring, and I would favor him against any heavyweight right now.