Sunday 14 June 2015 07:42, UK
World heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder believes he can succeed Floyd Mayweather Jr as the world's leading fighter.
The American makes the first defence of his WBC title in his home state of Alabama - live on Sky Sports - in the early hours of Sunday against compatriot Eric Molina, in a fight expected to showcase the champion's knockout power.
Much of the boxing world, including IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko, earmarks Britain's Olympic champion Anthony Joshua as the future of the division, but Wilder is adamant he is the leading light of the heavyweight renaissance.
The 29-year-old said: "Floyd Mayweather seems to be coming to the end. Boxing needs me to take over. I believe I can be the exciting new face.
Floyd Mayweather seems to be coming to the end. Boxing needs me to take over. I believe I can be the exciting new face.
"There is nothing better than the heavyweights to keep the boom going. The fans love the big men. Historically ours is the sport’s marquee division and it’s great for the game that it is coming back to life.
"It’s also time to bring back the undisputed heavyweight championship to America, where it belongs."
Wilder was taken the distance for the first time in his 33-fight professional career last time out, winning a unanimous decision over Bermane Stiverne to clinch the vacant belt and win praise for showing the boxing skills that his punching power had previously rendered redundant.
Looking forward to possible big-money fights with Britain's Tyson Fury and Klitschko, Wilder added: "I’ve been working on Tyson for about three years and we had reached the point of negotiations. But the chance of a fight with Klitschko changed their plans.
"Also, Klitschko and his team did not want one of their prospective opponents to be taken out of the mix by me beating Tyson. That’s OK with me because a fight with either of them – Wladimir in America or Fury in the UK – will be huge."
Either way, if Wilder and Joshua are as good as people claim, a meeting appears inevitable and may serve up the most anticipated heavyweight clash for decades.
Joshua, for one, is unfazed. The Londoner has a big domestic rival at the forefront of his mind but would welcome a clash with Wilder.
"There is a big fight out there for me if David Haye makes his comeback," he said. "But I would be happy to meet Deontay before that. He has raw power but I believe I’m a better boxer."