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AJ/Wilder: The Calm Before The Storm

Will Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder collide sooner rather than later?

By

AJ/Wilder: The Calm Before the Storm

By Aaron Cooper

The heavyweight championship of the world has long been thought of as the very pinnacle of boxing and one of the greatest prizes in sports. The division itself is synonymous with some of the biggest stars and most memorable household names in history. Even the most casual of boxing fans could all tell you who Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, or Lennox Lewis were, and in many cases, for the slightly older fans among us, most of us have seen the latter two fight on more than one occasion, even if you do not follow boxing religiously.

Sadly, over the course of time interest in boxing’s premier division has waned, largely due to the emergence of truly exception boxing talent in multiple weight divisions below, where the depth of talent has simply made them more competitive. If you were to try and put a finger on why the division has smouldered into ashes, you could probably quantify the problem threefold. Whilst there are cases that the Klitschko brothers should be remembered as two great titans of the division, their dominance over the last decade and 'safety first' approach to the way in which they fought didn't excite the fans enough. There was no reason to entice fans to continue to pay attention, and the division began to sleep. Secondly, the once rich talent pool of heavyweights that we had all enjoyed so very much in the 1990s had diminished. We were left wanting, as the talent that had replaced them were not like-for-like replacements, but lesser talents than those that they succeeded, especially with a real lack of American heavyweight talent. This in turn led the networks to effectively pour the last drops of water on the fire that was once a booming division.

But this isn’t a eulogy for the once great division. Oh, no ladies and gentlemen. Do not fret, for new titans have emerged. In particular, two new stars carry the torches that could very well set boxing’s premier division alight once more.

One could argue that the journeys to greatness for Britain’s Anthony Joshua and America's Deontay Wilder are written in the stars. Both men have been able to translate Olympic glory into world title gold, and whilst their personalities are poles apart they are both more similar than they perhaps think.

Joshua’s professional journey began following Olympic triumph in his native London in 2012. He quickly established himself as one of, if not the best emerging talents in the division. His calm demeanour and charming personality make way for a destructive force as soon as he steps inside the squared circle. He's an imposing figure that stalks his opponent, primed to unleash heavy artillery that no one has proved able to cope with so far.

Much like his British rival, Deontay Wilder too turned professional following an Olympic triumph, albeit winning a different colour of precious metal. But like Joshua, Wilder too has left a path of destruction in his wake. What he lacks in technical skill, he makes up for with a raw explosive power. Such power does he possess that all of his 39 victims have been laid to waste via Wilder's crude but effective methods.

These two men are on a collision course. But whilst we as boxing fans, hardcore or otherwise having been crying out for these two combatants to finally meet. A cold war now exists in the heavyweight division. It has to be said that it does seem to be the American that is more vocal about wanting the fight to happen. While the Englishman, and currently the A-side of the division, is happier to adopt a business first approach. Joshua seems content to let this fight build and rightly or wrongly feels that this fight needs to grow organically, rather than rushing to sign a contract.

There is a storm brewing between two heavyweight titans on both sides of the Atlantic. Both men’s journeys seem to be on a collision course that may well ignite this once great division. They may not be thought of as fondly as the stars of the divisions past, but one thing is for certain: Deontay Wilder has passed his acid test, and while you could argue Joshua has already passed his. Should the decorated Englishman win a third portion of the heavyweight title on March 31st, and given we know the brash American will be in attendance, this writer can only surmise that the eye of this storm could well be found in Cardiff in a few weeks' time.