Tony Bellew is the latest world champion aboard the Joshua vs Wilder hype train.
Deontay Wilder dismantled Barmane Stiverne inside a single round of their WBC Heavyweight title clash last night at the Barclays Center, New York.
Stiverne, who had previously taken Wilder to 12 rounds in their last fight, could not muster anything like a similar performance this time around as he was overwhelmed by the stunning power of the ‘Bronze Bomber’ who knocked the Canadian out cold with seconds remaining of the opening round. It seems that Wilder is now on a collision course with Anthony Joshua.
It was a performance that clearly impressed the boxing press and caught the eye of fellow heavyweight hopeful, Bellew.
Reflecting on the explosive win and echoing the thoughts of many who believe that Wilder has yet to be fully tested, Bellew intimated the long-heralded fight with Anthony Joshua is now a stage that Wilder may need to properly legitimise his reign as world champion.
Tony Bellew tweets
"That was a serious statement from Wilder last night! Stiverne come in at silly weight but he’s still quality. Wilder needs a defining fight," Bellew wrote on Sunday.
Despite Wilder’s exceptional record of 39 wins, 0 losses, 38 KO, it is Joshua who is perceived as the dominant champion in the division, adding further intrigue and momentum to the prospect of a unification fight that both fighters apparently both covet.
Afterwards, Wilder was vocal on the subject, capitalising on the swift ferocity by which he dispatched a former world champion to “declare war” on Anthony Joshua.
“The world wants Joshua, the world wants Wilder, I want Joshua," Wilder said. "Joshua come and see me baby. No more dodging, no more excuses. Make the date, don't wait. Let's see who is the best."
He was equally dismissive of the proposed challenge of another UK heavyweight, Dillian Whyte
"They are trying to give me a peasant in Whyte. A king doesn't chase the peasants. A king takes kings," he continued.
Whyte did little to whet the appetite in his laboured points victory over Robert Helenius on the Josha vs Takam undercard in Cardiff last weekend, and was recently passed over for mandatory challenger status by the WBC.
But Whyte is the fight that Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport, who promotes both Joshua and Whyte, would seemingly prefer at this time. From a business perspective this would be the likeliest route.
Whyte facing Wilder first would not only raise the stock of the ‘Body Snatcher’ but anticipation for the eventual Joshua vs Wilder super fight, giving the UK fans a first-hand look at the WBC Champion in action, and teach the Joshua camp a little bit more about the challenge in store.
Meanwhile it would give Joshua the opportunity to overcome any mandatory challengers thrown his way by the IBF and even to dethrone WBO champion, Joseph Parker.
The latter would then make Joshua vs Wilder a true winner-takes-all heavyweight championship unification clash and would send interest levels soaring and the box office into overdrive.
Joshua has openly declared he will fight anybody, but has sensibly tended to defer the management and pacing of his career to his team, including the selection of the opponents. To be fair, it’s all been executed to perfection.
So Wilder, still somewhat of an unknown quantity on these shores and not yet the box office draw that Joshua is, may be forced to bide his time; the leverage in this equation sits with the IBF champion’s camp.
But with its seeming inevitability still further away than Wilder and indeed most fans would hope, and after the savage dismissal of Whyte’s chances, who would be the “defining” fight for Deontay that Bellew is calling for?
Wilder’s performance against Stiverne however won’t have left too many fighters knocking down the door to face him, whilst Bellew faces David Haye in a rematch on December 17.
After somewhat of an upset in their first encounter, he could be on the lookout for one last pay day before he calls it a day.
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