Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather is set to close the curtains on his career later this year, and as he leaves the sport there will be a huge void to fill Stateside.
Having made a fortune from establishing himself as the ‘king of pay-per-view’, the pound-for-pound great has become an iconic figure in the sport that demands the attention of the world whenever he fights.
The ‘fight of the century’ against Manny Pacquiao may have failed to live up to expectations last month, but there was no denying the magnitude of the event and it is questionable as to whether we will see anything like it again.
While the consensus remains that September 12 will see Mayweather hang his gloves up, that presents a problem for the sport moving forward in terms of who the next global figure will be to capture the imagination of the public, even those who aren’t necessarily huge boxing fans.
The ‘Bronze Bomber’, a moniker gained after winning a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics, has all the tools required to pick up that mantle, as the 29-year-old has the power, personality and marketability that makes him a big player in the sport.
After defeating Bermane Stiverne earlier this year to win the WBC title, the Tuscaloosa native will make his first defence against Eric Molina this weekend.
Admittedly, that bout will do little for Wilder’s profile, but what it will do is give him the confidence boost to go on and secure the big fights in the division to end the year and then head into an exciting 2016.
The American star has an unbeaten record after winning all 33 of his professional bouts, while he has knocked 32 of his previous opponents out. Wilder had been criticised for the level of opposition that he had been facing, but he proved against Stiverne that it wasn’t all just raw power that has taken him to the top.
That natural talent coupled with his jovial and confident/arrogant personality has endeared him to many fans, and that makes him the perfect individual to replace Mayweather. The heavyweight weight class is a marquee division and has always grabbed more attention than others, and particularly given America’s long wait for a heavyweight king, it makes it all the more sweeter that they have a man capable of carrying the expectations of a nation.
From Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson and dating back to the likes of Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano, there is something special about American heavyweights securing their places in the history books. Wilder is by no means at that level, but if the right fights are made moving forward, then he can certainly join them in boxing folklore.
While Anthony Joshua’s emergence is something to monitor, particularly given that he may choose to take the WBC route, the big fights at this stage are against Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury.
Those two are expected to meet later in the year for the Ukrainian’s titles, and it would come as no surprise if Wilder was the first man knocking on the door to set up a unification fight. Essentially, the WBC champion is arguably two fights away from defining his legacy and they will allow him to explode into the mainstream.
If he can continue his trail of destruction then there is no reason to believe that boxing isn’t in safe hands with Mayweather out of the picture.