Deontay Wilder’s next fight - Who next?

After a decade of dour Klitschko dominance, the heavyweight division is suddenly very sexy once more.

The verbal jousting between fallen emperor Wlad and conqueror Tyson Fury has assumed headline status on the sport’s pages and internet sites ahead of their still to be finalised rematch for the WBA Super and WBO belts while, in WBC czar Deontay Wilder, the maligned US fight faithful can finally boast a man capable of exciting and igniting on both sides of the ropes.

Glynn Evans examines a fistful of future opponents for Deontay Wilder's next fight who could help elevate the trigger tongued, monster punching Alabama slammer from star to superstar when he returns to duty in late spring.

1) Charles Martin

Given the dearth of world heavyweight champions over the past decade, a unification shootout against the reigning IBF king would certain court interest across The Pond.

A late starter at 19, the St Louis southpaw sprung from nowhere to annex his title with an inconclusive third round injury win over regarded Ukrainian Vyacheslav Glazkov at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in January.

It was a 13th straight stoppage for the 6ft 5in, 18 stone Martin. Quick, athletic, strong and technically sound, ‘Prince Charles’  styles himself as a ‘heavyweight middleweight’, boasting the raw power of the former and the movement of the latter.

Promoted by King Sports Worldwide, the Missouri man is yet to meet defeat in 24 (one draw) but, like Wilder, there are few names of merit on his CV. A showdown, therefore, would prove mutually beneficially with regard to raising profile.

2) Alex Povetkin

Pal of President Putin and mandatory challenger at the WBC, this 36 year old former WBA belt holder would serve as a significant upgrade to anything Wilder has previously encountered.

After nailing World and European titles in both kick-boxing and conventional (amateur) pugilism, the 2004 Olympic champion successfully retained his world crown four times prior to getting crushed by Wlad Klitschko at Moscow’s Olympic Stadium in October 2013. Dropped on four occasions he gallantly made it to the finishing post and his pain was no doubt soothed by a Russian record $5.8 million purse.

That remains his sole loss in 31 (22 quick) and he has since rebounded with four inside schedule wins against very credible opposition.

Highly capable and battle hardened, ‘The Russian Vityaz’ might be the man who helps provide the answers regarding Wilder’s stoutness and stamina. Could provide a Cold War collision of Rocky IV proportions if it gets made.

3) Anthony Joshua

With Messrs Fury and Klitschko seemingly indisposed due to a contracted but still to be finalised rematch, a Transatlantic tear-up with fellow Olympic medallist Joshua represents the most lucrative option for Wilder.

A nucleur shootout between easily the two most combustible operators in the division would sell out football stadiums on either side of the water and attract a global pay-per-view take up that would enable both principals to trouser an eight figure cheque.

It certainly could happen soon but one sense the bounty could be even greater if it’s allowed to stew for an additional 12 months. With ‘AJ’ already ranked second with the WBC, his team might opt to wait for purse bids and instead pursue a similarly lucrative bang-up with fellow Londoner David Haye first.

Regardless, with a combined 50 knockouts in 51 gigs, one fears that oxygen masks and stretchers might be required when Wilder-Joshua inevitably comes to fruition.

4) Luis Ortiz

This Cuban southpaw shares a birthday with the great Teofilio Stevenson and hopes to emulate the triple Olympic champion as a ring legend.

The fabled fighting island has never produced a professional heavyweight champion but the 36 year old Miami based native of Camaguey might possess the pedigree and hardware to end that rut.

At 6ft 4in tall and boasting an 84in wingspan, ‘The Real King Kong’ was a blue chip 362 bout amateur who won prestigious Cuban and Pan Am Games titles and also medalled at the 2005 World Cup.

Though scheduled to defend his WBA ‘interim’ strap against Alex Dimitrenko in early March – a fight he’ll be favoured to win – Senor Ortiz could be ready to renew US-Cuban hostilities in late spring.

5) Joseph Parker

Stature apart, several comparisons can be made between this Kiwi kayo artist and David ‘The Terminator’ Tua, the former world title challenger who terrorised heavyweights throughout the nineties and noughties.

Both are Auckland based Samoans who have trained in Las Vegas under 1984 Olympic silver medallist Kevin Barry and both own the heavy artillery to leave opponents prostrate; the squat Tua with a single hook, the 6ft 4in Parker with blistering combinations.

Fit, fast and blessed with a frenetic work ethic, the deeply religious New Zealander medalled at both the Junior Olympics and Junior World Championships prior to deciding to punch for pay whilst still a teenager.

Stoppage victories over such as Francois Botha plus respected Antipodean rivals Bowie Tupou and Kali Meehan have catapulted the piano playing pug into a top 12 slot at all the major sanctioning bodies.

However, just 24, and with only 18 fights on his ledger (16 stopped), this fast improving ‘work in progress’ might opt to proceed with caution and acquire greater seasoning prior to taking the plunge.

[Photo credit RadioNZ]