Deontay Wilder had an interesting take on a matchup that has been at least six years in the making.
The former longtime WBC heavyweight titlist shared the dais with more than a dozen other fighters as part of the ‘Day of Reckoning’ kickoff press conference ahead of a December 23 super card in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Among the participants was fellow former titlist Anthony Joshua, with whom Wilder has been linked for years and again in recent months as rumors swirled of a potential head-on collision.
Both are under the impression that day is finally sooner than later. However, Wilder is content with whatever is part of the greater plan for the rest of his career.
“Hopefully soon we can get in the ring and give the people what they want,” Wilder said ahead of his own bout versus another fellow former titlist in New Zealand’s Joseph Parker. “But I wish you nothing but the best, even if it doesn’t happen.
“I believe it will happen. I believe it’s about that time. But even if it doesn’t, I wish him nothing but the best.”
Wilder-Parker is part of an eight-fight blockbuster show and is one of two co-main events on the evening. England’s Joshua (26-3, 22KOs) lands in the other slot as he faces Sweden’s Otto Wallin.
Wilder, Joshua and Parker all held heavyweight titles from December 2016 through the end of March 2018. Wilder (43-2-1, 42KOs) was adamant in his desire to face either unbeaten titleholder at the time, though more so Joshua. Demand for the fight grew as Joshua further unified the division in his own win over Parker in their WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight title fight.
Wilder held the WBC belt dating back to 2015 but was never afforded the opportunity to unify. His seven-year, ten-title defense reign came to a crashing halt in a one-sided stoppage loss to Manchester’s Tyson Fury in their February 2020 rematch. Their trilogy clash landed as the 2021 Fight of the Year, as both fighters hit the deck only for Fury to prevail via eleventh-round stoppage.
Just one win has followed for Wilder, a first-round knockout of Robert Helenius last October 15 in Brooklyn, New York. Wilder spent all years of the hope—and belief, at times—this was the year where he would finally get Joshua in the ring.
For now, he has to settle for being in personal contact as the hulking Brit.
“It’s good to be in the same room as him,” admitted Wilder. “It’s good to be here face to face. It’s been a long time coming. I wish him nothing but the best, bro.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox