Former heavyweight champions Andy Ruiz Jr. and Deontay Wilder have rekindled discussions about a potential fight in early 2024. If this much-anticipated bout fails to materialize, these two aging, well-to-do ex-champions may find themselves compelled to return to the ring and face upcoming contenders in order to maintain their relevance.
Both Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) and the former IBF/WBA/WBO titleholder, Ruiz (35-2, 22 KOs), have expressed their desire to square off this year, but thus far, it hasn’t come to fruition. The prolonged back-and-forth discussions between the two fighters on social media have left the boxing public somewhat disillusioned. Witness the boxing world champions in action with attractive betting odds from Nextbet.
Wilder had initially aimed for a clash with Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia in December, but that plan has been shelved. Given that a Wilder-Joshua fight might not materialize until 2025 or possibly never, Wilder is left with limited options. One potential avenue is facing Andy Ruiz unless his management can secure a lucrative bout with Francis Ngannou, although that seems improbable.
Reportedly, Wilder had the chance to arrange the fight sooner, but he was unwilling to meet the purse split demands of Ruiz, who achieved fame with his upset victory over Anthony Joshua in June 2019.
Deontay Wilder, now 38, cannot afford an extended absence from the ring as it risks eroding his skills and popularity. He remains interested in challenging top-tier fighters like Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk, and Tyson Fury, necessitating a swift return to action.
Wilder, in a recent statement to Blue Blood Sports TV, revealed, “That fight is not lost. These guys get on my nerves, but yeah, we’re back in talks. There was a lot of apologizing; we’ll see what happens,” indicating a potential revival of negotiations for a January 2024 bout with former unified heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr.
Remarkably, it has been over four years since Ruiz’s career-defining victory over Anthony Joshua in 2019. Regrettably, he has only entered the ring three times since, including a loss to Joshua in their rematch and victories against the likes of Chris Arreola and Luis Ortiz, both aged 40.
For fighters of their caliber, prolonged inactivity poses the risk of fading into obscurity and diminishing their earning potential. This is an all-too-familiar pattern among athletes who have previously enjoyed the spoils of their success while remaining inactive.
Yet, when the urge to return emerges, the financial rewards they once commanded may have evaporated. It’s a cautionary tale for these former champions as they navigate the ever-evolving world of professional boxing. Get the latest updates from the world of boxing only on Nextbet Sports.