Fight fans are hoping 2017 will provide them with a good, exciting year of heavyweight action. This year, largely dominated by reigning IBF champ Anthony Joshua (who was, with three title fights fought, the most active heavyweight champion) was no great year, but there are signs that 2017 could be a fine one for the big men of the sport.
The year will be kick-started by the ring return of Deontay Wilder, who will in February fight for the first time since injuring his hand and his biceps whilst throwing bombs at the rock of a head owned by Chris Arreola. Anxious to get back in there having endured just over seven months of enforced inactivity, Wilder, 37-0(36) will face a perceived soft touch in Poland’s Andrzej Wawrzyk on February 25 in Birmingham, Alabama.
After this fight – almost certainly a relatively straightforward blast out for “The Bronze Bomber” – Wilder will hopefully feature in far, far bigger fights; the type his talents, and his fans, deserve. Wilder wants the winner of the upcoming Wladimir Klitschko-Anthony Joshua IBF/WBA clash set for April 29 in London. This one, so far easily the biggest heavyweight title fight/event of next year, has opinion split: will the ex-champ win or will youth be served?
Wilder against the winner, in a massive unification, would be, well, massive – but will it happen? Other possibilities for the heavyweight calendar in 2017 include Luis Ortiz facing the winner of the April 29 showdown, or Kubrat Pulev against the winner of the big one. It’s often confusing in boxing, as fans are painfully aware, and the recent announcements that the WBA heavyweight champ (whether it be Joshua or Klitschko after their fight) must defend against Ortiz and the IBF champ must defend against Pulev, could make things even more puzzling.
Unification fights take precedent over mandatory defences, so maybe the winner between Joshua and Klitschko will be permitted to face Wilder for all the marbles.
Fans want the biggest fights, so too do the fighters. Wilder started off 2016 with a bang – his KO of The Year candidate over Artur Szplika – and it seems he will do so again in 2017. And with WBO champ Joseph Parker also making people think he might be the best of the current world champions, the heavyweight division seems to be in good hands.
Some of the heavyweight fights we should see in 2017:
David Haye-Tony Bellew
Joseph Parker-Hughie Fury, or David Haye, or David Price
Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko, the winner to fight Kubrat Pulev, or Luis Ortiz, or Wilder
Bermane Stiverne-Dillian Whyte, in a final WBC eliminator, or Whyte-Dereck Chisora in a rematch of THE heavyweight fight of 2016.