Deontay Wilder has suggested Anthony Joshua could become the ‘next Muhammad Ali’ even if he loses his rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr on December 7.
Ruiz stunned Joshua and the boxing world in one of the biggest upsets in the sport’s history when he handed the British heavyweight his first defeat and took his WBA, IBF & WBO world heavyweight titles from him back in June.
WBC champion Wilder believes the result will be the same when the pair meet again in Saudi Arabia in a few weeks time, but insists AJ’s career will be far from over.
Wilder told SunSport: "A lot of people say 'If he loses the second time he's done' - no he's not!
"He's not done, that's up to him, how many people have come back and reigned?
“Look at Muhammad Ali, he reigned for longer in his second time as champion than he did the first time, that's how you become a two or three-time champion.
"So it's not over when you lose. You just have to start from the beginning.”
The 34-year-old American wants to face Joshua and is eyeing the winner, but added a fight with Ruiz would draw in a bigger crowd.
And having already tried to pursue a fight with the Brit for almost two years before his defeat in Madison Square Garden, the Bronze Bomber believes a bout with Ruiz would come around sooner, too.
"Not only will negotiations be easier,” says Wilder. “Joshua played around with us for four months and we tried to tell people about Eddie Hearn moving the goalposts.
"Ruiz will be a bigger fight than Joshua. I say that as I feel he'll beat him again and once he does it a second time, yeah he's way bigger.
"He has the Mexicans behind him and the Hispanics, they love boxing, they love it, and he's American too, he's got a huge population behind him.”
First though, Wilder has rematches of his own against Luis Ortiz on Saturday and Tyson Fury on February 22 to get through before anything else can be put in motion.
Fury himself has also expressed his desire to fight the winner of Joshua and Ruiz, and wants to do so early next year should Ortiz out-punch Wilder this weekend.