Wilder ponders Ruiz Jnr unification fight ahead of Fury rematch

In Summary

• Deontay wants to unify heavyweight division after Joshua’s shock loss.

• Heavyweight champion is happy to wait on the outcome of a rematch between Joshua and Ruiz Jnr.

Deontay Wilder poses during a media day
Deontay Wilder poses during a media day

Tyson Fury’s mega-millions rematch of his epic draw with WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder is drifting into jeopardy.

Wilder, in his ambition to unify all the heavyweight belts, is tempted to prioritise a spring fight with Andy Ruiz Jnr, who holds all the other titles following his sensational upset of Anthony Joshua.

America’s Bronze Bomber, who is on a whistle-stop tour of England, says: “One man, one face, one champion — that’s always been my goal. So there’s a definite possibility we could switch to Ruiz before Fury.”

Until now Wilder has consistently committed to a second fight with Fury and was keen to do it immediately after their thriller in December.  But the Gypsy King’s new £80m (Sh10.2bn) contract with the ESPN cable TV giant has led to a two-fight detour in the US which has delayed that rematch until the new year.

During that hiatus, along came Ruiz to turn boxing’s marquee division on its — and Joshua’s — head.

Wilder spies the opportunity to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis. He says: ‘Andy and me are in the same stable under Al Haymon so that would be an easy fight to make.’

Ruiz is contracted to a rematch with Joshua which AJ’s promoter Eddie Hearn is scheduling to take place under the roof of Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on December 14. But the first Mexican ever to hold a world heavyweight title is refusing to come to the UK following Dillian Whyte’s drugs test of which his opponent here last Saturday, Oscar Rivas, was not informed before the fight.

Prior to that, Wilder’s interim fight with Luis Ortiz was already being moved up from September to November. That suggests that his team want to delay confirming the rematch with Fury until they know the outcome of Joshua-Ruiz II.

Hearn is threatening punitive legal action if Ruiz reneges on the rematch but in any event Wilder is confident Joshua will be beaten a second time. He says: “If I was him I wouldn’t fight Andy again straight away. Joshua doesn’t seem to know how he lost that fight but what happened is that he quit. I don’t think he’s flat-out quitter but he did give up on the night.”

“After being knocked down the fourth time he spat out his gum-shield, turned his back on the referee and walked away to his corner. Then he hung his arms back over the ropes when he was told to walk forward and turned to look at his trainers.”

“They forced the referee to stop the fight because they didn’t want it to look like he was quitting, But all his body language said he didn’t want to be in there no longer. One defeat is not the end for him but if he does the rematch straight away he will lose again. Psychologically, he needs one or two warm up fights to rebuild his confidence.”

Wilder could pursue his ‘undisputed’ dream by meeting Joshua if he beats Ruiz but with them working for rival TV networks that fight would be extremely difficult to negotiate.