It's a great time to be a heavyweight boxing fan when you consider the de facto tournament that is set to continue in March.
WBC champion Deontay Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) faces top contender Luis Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs) on March 3. Four weeks later, Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) and Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) both put their perfect records at stake in a title unification bout on March 31.
The goal, of course, is that the winners would face off in late 2018 for a shot at declaring the sport's first undisputed champion to hold all four recognized titles simultaneously. For most boxing fans (and likely those running Showtime, which will air both fights), the hope is that Wilder and Joshua are the ones who advance and square off.
While both feared sluggers have showed interest in eventually facing one another, Wilder has been more vocal. Joshua, who has arguably grown to become boxing's biggest star, closed 2017 by saying Wilder needs the fight more, equally for critical and financial reasons.
Out of fears that he could be forced to wait until 2019 to see the fight, especially if Joshua and promoter Eddie Hearn can lure returning lineal champion Tyson Fury from a two-plus year hiatus, Wilder went public with some bold claims of his own on Wednesday.
Despite the success Joshua has had as a box-office sensation in his native Great Britain -- he defeated Wladimir Klitschko and Carlos Takam in 2017 in front of a combined 168,000 fans -- Wilder insisted that Joshua will never be a global icon until he faces him.
"He may have his country behind him and that's it," Wilder told ESPN UK. "Does he want to be remembered as a country-wide champion? Because he's not worldwide. Over here in America they don't even know his name. They just know him as a big guy from England. That's fact.
There's a bit or irony to Wilder's words considering the 32-year-old, who has made six defenses of the WBC title he won from Bermane Stiverne in 2015, has had considerable difficulty becoming a household name in his own country, as well. That doesn't mean Wilder hasn't been trying.
A 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, Wilder has been fed a steady diet of national television opportunities in recent years on CBS and FOX, in hopes of building his brand. Wilder also recently joined the cast of E!'s reality series "WAGS Atlanta."
"I need him and he needs me at the end of the day, unless he doesn't want to unify," Wilder said. "Unless he wants to stay over [on] his side of the pond and let people gravitate to him and be a fake sign of what he [says he] is. But he will never be a global icon. You will never be a world-wide figure without me. All roads lead to Deontay Wilder.
"I am the most exciting, most entertaining fighter in the heavyweight division. Nobody in the heavyweight division is doing what I am doing. Nobody in history is doing what I am doing.
One of Wilder's biggest issues in crossing over has been the fact that he can't get a dangerous opponent in the ring against him. At first the blame appeared to be on him and his management, which matched him alarmingly soft until (and immediately after) his first title shot.