Verbal battle heats up with showdown between two heavyweights on the horizon

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 05: WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder works out for the media at Churchill Boxing Club on November 05, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 05: WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder works out for the media at Churchill Boxing Club on November 05, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) Getty Images

As much as Deontay Wilder accentuates the positives of his upcoming title defense, boxing fans clamor for the heavyweight showdown which remains an illusion.

A unification match between Wilder and England’s Anthony Joshua has become another example of boxing politics - dream fights that fail to occur at their peak demand because of the conflicting promotional links to each fighter.

Instead, of a Wilder-Joshua fight that would feature unbeaten champions with 60 knockouts in their combined 62 fights, Wilder accepts other ring alternatives. On Saturday night, Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) will make the eighth defense of his World Boxing Council belt against Tyson Fury at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The bout is Wilder’s first since his dramatic 10th round technical knockout win over Miami resident Luis Ortiz March 3. And, by not securing the fight with Joshua following his win over Ortiz, Wilder enhanced Fury’s brief championship stint in an attempt to build the significance of Saturday’s bout.

“I fought one of the best (Ortiz) and I think I’m fighting the next best in line in the heavyweight division and I do think he’s tough,” Wilder said of Fury. “The thing about Tyson – he’s mentally tough.

“He’s great for the heavyweight division. He’s charismatic, he can talk.”

A native of England, Fury shook up the boxing establishment with his unanimous decision victory over defending champion Wladimir Klitschko in Nov. 2015 to capture three sanctioning body heavyweight belts.

But Fury’s title reign ended without a defense. Fury underwent a period of depression and his inactivity resulted in organizations removing him as a champion.

Boxing Fury’s Future.JPG
FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2015 file photo, Britain’s new world champion Tyson Fury, celebrates with the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts after winning the world heavyweight title fight against Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko in Duesseldorf, western Germany. Tyson Fury’s boxing career could be over after the reigning IBF, WBO and WBA heavyweight champion announced his retirement in a profanity-filled tweet on Monday Oct. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File) Martin Meissner AP

After a two-year absence, Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) returned in June and has won two lopsided bouts in his comeback. And, in confirming Wilder’s description of him, Fury has intensified the verbal ammunition during the buildup to Saturday’s fight.

“This is a legacy fight and I do believe that’s true,” Fury said. “And, after I win, he’s going to hire me as his publicist because I do believe I can promote Deontay Wilder back to being heavyweight champion of the world in no time.

“But there is no shame in losing to me because I am the greatest boxer of my generation and I can’t be beat, especially not by him.”

Fighting on the Wilder-Fury undercard will provide Ortiz a platform to remain relevant in the heavyweight title mix. Ortiz (29-1, 25 KOs) will face Travis Kauffman (32-2, 23 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round bout.

Ortiz nearly finished Wilder with power shots late in the seventh round of their bout before Wilder recovered for the TKO win.

“Knowing that I am fighting on the same show gives me added motivation because it can lead to another title opportunity,” Ortiz said before a recent workout at his trainer Herman Caicedo’s gym in Miami. “If you deserve something you don’t plead for it. I believe I have deserved the chance.”

Miami based featherweights Hairon Socarras and Jessy Cruz will be part of the undercard of Friday night’s show at the Seminole Hard Rock Events Center in Hollywood.

Socarras will face Mike Oliver in a scheduled eight-round bout while Cruz will fight Isaias Martin-Cardona in a scheduled six-round match.

The card’s main event features Mexico’s Ricardo Espinoza and Colombia’s Yeison Vargas for a regional bantamweight title. Telemundo will televise the Espinoza-Vargas bout.

Late Saturday, Dmitry Bivol retained his WBA light-heavyweight title with a unanimous decision over Jean Pascal in Atlantic City, N.J. Bivol (15-0) won the bout on two judges’ scorecards 119-109 and 117-111 on the third.

Coming up

Friday (7:15 p.m., at Seminole Hard Rock Events Center, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood): announced 11-bout card, headlined by Ricardo Espinoza and Yeison Vargas, 10, bantamweights; tickets start at $60.

Saturday (6:45 p.m., Showtime): Adonis Stevenson vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk, 12, for Stevenson’s WBC light-heavyweight title.

Saturday (9 p.m., Showtime pay-per-view): Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury, 12, for Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title; Jarrett Hurd vs. Jason Welborn, 12, for Hurd’s IBF and WBA super-welterweight titles; Luis Ortiz vs. Travis Kauffman, 10, heavyweights.