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Saturday, 28 May 2022 10:40

5 potential fights for Deontay Wilder after ex-champion announced return

Deontay Wilder has announced his return to the boxing ring after declaring his journey in the heavyweight division is not finished.

Wilder's next fight will be his first since his trilogy-bout defeat by Tyson Fury last October. Wilder has not yet revealed any talks or a potential opponent but will likely lace up his gloves again before the end of the year.

 

Despite falling to defeat, Wilder put on a brave display against the 'Gypsy King', dropping his opponent twice before being stopped in the penultimate stanza. The 36-year-old was contemplating retirement following surgery after breaking his hand, but is now likely to rekindle his challenge for the WBC world title which he lost to Fury in 2020.

Here we assess five potential opponents Wilder could face upon his return to the ring...

1. Anthony Joshua or Oleksandr Usyk

Wilder could challenge the loser of the unified heavyweight title rematch between Joshua and Usyk later this year.

The 'Bronze Bomber' was previously set to face 'AJ' earlier in his career but the Briton turned down an initial offer, demanding more than $50 million for the fight in 2018. Wilder then himself rejected a later deal from promoter Eddie Hearn worth £100m which included a meeting against Joshua.

A fight between Wilder and Joshua has been touted as a target before the end of the American's career by his manager Shelly Finkel. “My gut says the big fights. It’s not on the drawing board now, but he would love to get Fury back again," Wilder's co-manager Shelly Finkel told SunSport. “But again, it’s early and we have to get through Usyk and Joshua and see a couple of other possibilities.

“It’s a massive fight [Wilder vs Joshua], no matter what happens in the Joshua - Usyk fight. And I’m not sure that Usyk, even with his great skills, will be able to deal with the size of Fury." Usyk has recently stepped up from cruiserweight and currently holds the belts after snatching them from Joshua last year. The winner will likely go on and challenge Wilder's three-time rival Fury in an undisputed bout if he opts to fight on. 

2. Dillian Whyte

Whyte has just suffered the same fate as Wilder after losing his long-awaited title challenge in a brutal stoppage by Fury. The 'Body Snatcher' will now face a regroup as he looks to return to the ring before making a renewed quest for world glory.

The Briton is known for his one-punch power and could see an intriguing clash of styles if he steps in the ring with Wilder. If the pair opt to fight, the winner would likely put themselves in pole position for a title challenge next year.

Whyte has previously talked up a clash with Wilder and believes he would have his hand raised. " Deontay Wilder is confused. He's a very confused, deluded boy," he said. "He will never fight me, he's a coward. He'll make excuses. 'Oh, keep fighting, this, that and whatever.' He should say, 'I'll knock out Dillian Whyte,' that's what he should be saying. I wouldn't be saying, 'Oh keep fighting mate.' He's just a first-class w*****.

3. Frank Sanchez

'Cuban Flash' Frank Sanchez could present a realistic test for Wilder upon his return as he holds a No.4 ranking with the WBC.

The Cuban star is undefeated in his professional career and is yet to negotiate his next outing after defeating Christian Hammer on the opening day of the year. Sanchez confirmed he was initially eyeing the winner of Joe Joyce's match-up with Joseph Parker but the bout has since been delayed.

Sanchez could fast track his bid for a title with a victory over No.1 ranked contender Wilder and would present a formidable challenge for the Bronze Bomber's return. The pair could even fight for the vacant title if Fury opts to vacate his belt.

4. Robert Helenius

Wilder could face former sparring partner Helenius who is currently in the frame to set up a title shot by being ranked at No.3 with the WBA.

The Finnish star is currently on a three fight win-streak having defeated Adam Kownacki in their rematch last October. Helenius is looking for his next test and is yet to name an opponent as he continues to plot his route to a world title shot.

A fight against Helenius could also be seen as an interim-style bout which Wilder could use to progress before challenging the big guns in Joshua or Usyk early next year. Helenius was also drafted in to prepare the former champion for the test of Fury and would be a familiar face to begin his quest.

5. Andy Ruiz Jr

Wilder could face Mexican star Andy Ruiz Jr who is also looking to return to challenging for heavyweight world titles.

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