Deontay Wilder vs. elite big men: How would he fare vs. 5 top rivals?

Deontay Wilder is riding high again after his spectacular first-round knockout of Robert Helenius last weekend in Brooklyn, his first fight since back-to-back knockout losses against Tyson Fury.

Immediately after his victory he asked, “Who’s next?”

Well, three-belt heavyweight champ Oleksandr Usyk has expressed interest in facing Wilder, as has Andy Ruiz Jr.. Fans love the idea of a Wilder-Anthony Joshua showdown. And a few others have been mentioned as potential foes for the hardest puncher in the sport.

How would Wilder fare against his biggest rivals? We selected five intriguing matchups and predicted a winner.

Note; Fury isn’t included here. Wilder undoubtedly would like one more shot at the WBC titleholder but neither Fury nor the fans are interested in seeing a fourth fight between them.

Here goes:

FRANK SANCHEZ (21-0, 14 KOs)

Sanchez, who learned his trade in the Cuban amateur system, is one of the most skillful heavyweights in the world. He’s both quick and athletic for a big man, which could give Wilder problems. He tried to play the bully in his fight against Carlos Negron on Wilder-Helenius card – and ended up with a ninth-round knockout – but he’s not at his best as an aggressive fighter. He’s a technician. One liability Sanchez would have against Wilder is a lack of experience in high profile main events, which is significant. Conversely, he has taken part in hundreds of fights (amateur and pro). One thing we don’t know: What happens when he takes a particularly hard punch to the head?

Who wins?

Sanchez is good … but not that good. And the fact he doesn’t have great power could work against him. He would probably outbox Wilder for a time, as others have, but he doesn’t have the ability to hurt Wilder (as Luis Ortiz did) or the size to push him around (as Fury did). Sanchez would get caught at some point. And he would go. Wilder KO 9.

JOE JOYCE (15-0, 14 KOs)

The 2016 Olympic silver medalist has earned his place among elite heavyweights. He’s coming off a breakthrough victory over former titleholder Joseph Parker, who was beaten up before being stopped in 11 rounds. Joyce was impressive. He’s not particularly quick or athletic but he’s big (6-foot-6, around 270 pounds) and unusually strong, can box well and relentlessly delivers hard, punishing punches that break his opponents down. His heavy hands remind me a little of George Foreman’s, although he doesn’t punch as hard as Big George. And while he’s not young – he’s 37 – he hasn’t taken many punches in his career, meaning he’s fresh. He’s definitely a heavyweight on the rise.

Who wins?

Joyce doesn’t have the right style for Wilder. He comes directly at opponents in an effort to wear them down, similar to the tactic Fury used in his second and third fights with Wilder. The problem for Joyce is he isn’t as skillful as Fury. He would walk into big punch after big punch. Again, he has a good chin. We would see how good. Wilder KO 9.

ANDY RUIZ JR. (35-2, 22 KOs)

Ruiz will forever be known as the chubby fighter who stunned the boxing world by stopping Anthony Joshua in seven rounds to become a heavyweight champion in 2019, which makes him an attractive opponent for anyone. He has strengths: quick hands, punching power, a good chin, experience in big fights. And he seems to be taking his training seriously, which hasn’t always been the case. He also has deficiencies, including relatively slow feet that will make it difficult for him to move away from Wilder when he has to. That means he would take some hard punches. Would he be able to take them? Wilder and Ruiz fight on the same platform (PBC), which would make negotiations easier.

Who wins?

Ruiz could do to Wilder what he did to Joshua … but it isn’t likely. Joshua quit against Ruiz in their first fight. Wilder doesn’t quit. And that’s assuming Ruiz would land big blows. He might not. Wilder, quicker and more athletic, might be able to outbox Ruiz. And if he can’t, he still has his not-so-secret weapon to take control of the fight. Ruiz isn’t a good enough defensive fighter to beat Wilder. Wilder KO 10.


Few potential matchups are as intriguing. Usyk, who holds three of the four major heavyweight titles, is a master boxer who already befuddled one strapping, hard-punching heavyweight in Joshua. He’s special. The question is whether he could stand up to Wilder’s punching power. The Ukrainian did so against Joshua, which is a good sign for him. At the same time, he’s not a natural heavyweight and no one can crack like Wilder. Ask Tyson Fury, who went down four times in three fights with the “Bronze Bomber.” So it’s skill vs. power, although Wilder also deserves credit for a delivery system that has worked for him fight after fight. Fascinating stuff.

Who wins?

The fact is that Wilder could knock out anyone if he lands his big right hand is just the right way. That includes Usyk. I just don’t think he’d do it. Usyk survived two fights with Joshua and would do the same with Wilder, who also is a small heavyweight in terms of his weight. Usyk is just too clever, too athletic. Usyk by decision.


I love this matchup. It wasn’t long ago that these two knockout artists were unbeaten and on a collision course. Of course, that’s changed. Wilder was stopped twice by Fury and Joshua has three setbacks, including back-to-back decisions against Usyk. However, they remain highly popular fighters who can end any fight with a single punch, as we saw with Wilder this past weekend. The pay-per-view numbers for Wilder-Joshua would show that the fans care more about good matchups than past setbacks. Also, they’re both hungry reclaim past glory. The winner of Wilder-Joshua would take a significant step in that direction and enhance his resume. Add all that up and you get a fun, compelling matchup.

Who wins? Joshua is heavier and has a better skill set than Wilder but the latter punches harder and is much tougher. Wilder probably wouldn’t take out Joshua quickly, as he did against Helenius. He’d have to work for it. And Joshua would make him work hard. The Englishman would probably try to outbox Wilder, as he did in the rematch with Ruiz. The problem for him is that Wilder can change a fight in an instant. He would hurt Joshua at some point. And Joshua would fold. Wilder KO 11.


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Deontay Wilder knocks out Robert Helenius with single, devastating right hand

Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie