How many years ago was it when rival heavyweights Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder should have fought, and how much has happened to both men since then? For one thing, neither former champion has been unbeaten for some time now, and both men have looked vulnerable in certain fights.

But while AJ has bounced back well from his two losses at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk – Joshua reeling off four straight wins, over Jermain Franklin, Robert Helenius, Otto Wallin and, last time out, Francis Ngannou – Wilder has not been able to get back in the winning groove since losing twice to Tyson Fury. Wilder did smoke Helenius in quick fashion in his sole win since the Fury defeats, but Wilder was then beaten by Joseph Parker, this in pretty emphatic fashion.

For sure, Joshua is in a better place than Wilder is at the moment. But Wilder still believes the fight between he and Joshua can and will happen, with the 38 year old (to Joshua’s 34) telling BBC Sport that after he “knocks [Zhilei Zhang’s] head off, Wilder versus Joshua, they want it again.”

When Wilder says “they” will want the Wilder-Joshua fight again after Wilder has scored a KO win over Zhang, the former WBC heavyweight champion of course means us, me and you – the fans. But do YOU still crave seeing this at one time seemingly guaranteed explosion of a heavyweight fight? Maybe Wilder is right, and if he does the business against Zhang on June 1, if Wilder ices the southpaw giant in highlight reel fashion, we WILL all scream again for Wilder Vs. Joshua.

But can Wilder do the business against Zhang?

“I always said it before, it’ll be a shame if we never fought,” Wilder said of a fight between himself and AJ. “It only takes that one fight, that one night. June 1st is going to be that night, that one fight. Deontay Wilder knocks [Zhang’s] head off and the world goes crazy. And there we go again, Wilder versus Joshua. They want it [again].

Wilder’s very career will be on the line on June 1 in Riyadh. A defeat to Zhang, in any form, points, KO, TKO, corner retirement, you name it, and Wilder will have no place to go but into retirement; that or he becomes a trial-horse for up-and-comers, which would be sad to see. But a win over Zhang, especially a crushingly memorable KO win, and Wilder would in all likelihood be right back near the top in terms of both market value and fan popularity.

Wilder and Joshua should have rumbled some years ago, but maybe the fight is not totally dead yet. Maybe.

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