As we close out what has been a great year of boxing in 2015, 2016 hopes to bring the boxing world something it has not had since Lennox Lewis retired in 2003- an undisputed heavyweight champion.
WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder hopes to build upon his coming out party in 2015 with a solid 2016 campaign that looks to transition the 30-year-old American champion from breakout star to heavyweight legend.
Wilder spoke to World Boxing News about his hopes to unify all the belts within the division in the upcoming year.
“All these belts are starting to get ridiculous. There are so many belts and people get so confused about who’s this champion? What’s that champion? What this belt is? – And it’s confusing,” Wilder said. “…I think it would be a great thing to just have one heavyweight champion of the world, once and for all. Not all WBC, IBF and all that champion of the world, especially for the heavyweight division – which is the cream of the crop.”
Deontay Wilder (35-0-0, 34KO) exploded onto the boxing scene by defeating his first 32 opponents by knockout and looking every bit the part of an American heavyweight champion. From his charismatic demeanor, brutal knockouts, and tall muscular frame, Wilder seemed poised to bring back the heavyweight division to its former glory, but critics pointed to Wilder’s weak level of opposition as a question mark of his legitimacy.
This past January, Wilder helped quiet some of his critics by earning a unanimous decision victory over Bermane Stiverne, giving him the WBC championship and a credible opponent to add to his résumé. Since then, Wilder has looked spectacular against a couple of soft touch’s in Eric Molina and Johann Duhaupas and looks to raise the stakes in 2016.
For over a decade, the heavyweight division has been ruled by the Klitschko brothers- Vitali and Wladimir. Due to the brothers domination of the division and unwillingness to fight each other, the absence of a unified champion has left a void within the heavyweight division. Confusion amongst fight fans on who the real champion was plagued the division as the brothers fought primarily in Europe for the better part of the decade.
Fans, specifically American fans, desperately craved for the excitement a true unified champion would bring. Since Vitali’s retirement in 2013 to focus on politics, an opportunity has now arisen for a champion to unify all the belts and dethrone Wladimir, putting an end to the confusion.
It will be the U.K’s Tyson Fury that will get the opportunity to end Wladimir’s reign as champion on November 28th.
When asked if a matchup with the winner of the Klitschko-Fury fight will happen within the next year, Wilder told WBN, “Most definitely, most definitely. That’s what I am looking forward to. I am ready to unify the division and I am ready for there to be one champion, once and for all.”
Wilder acknowledges that to finally disprove all the criticism he has received he will need a victory against an opponent with the stature of a Wladimir Klitschko.
“I think that’s what it’s going to take as you can’t change people’s minds,” he told WBN. “And even though there are some people’s minds you can’t change, there are those that are waiting to finally say; ‘this is the man’ after all this time and they are the people we are looking to win over. Wilder added: “I have the most legit belt in all of boxing. The most precious, most well-known belt. You know a lot of people want to say that Wladimir is the champion. Yeah, he’s a champion, of course because he has the rest of the belts, but I’m the WBC heavyweight champ and every fighter who wants to be champion wants the WBC belt. Even Wladimir – he wants the WBC title.”
Wilder looks to return to action January 16th against a still to be announced opponent, then could face Alexander Povetkin, a former Klitschko foe, who happens to be Wilder’s mandatory challenger. If victorious, this could set the stage for a huge clash with the winner of Klitschko-Fury for early fall of next year.
If this is indeed the outline for Wilder’s upcoming year then it is sure to provide the excitement and competitiveness the heavyweight division has been yearning for.
2016 here we come.