I’d considered Zhilei Zhang the favorite against Deontay Wilder, but everything I then saw when they fought tells me that Wilder shouldn’t fight again.

I already hadn’t liked what we saw of Wilder when he lost to Joseph Parker in December, or how he’d been speaking about retirement. Even at 38, because he’s one of the heaviest-handed fighters we’ve seen, and because Zhang’s a southpaw and therefore had the potential to be open to his right hand, there was the chance of Wilder doing what we’d become used to. But we’ve now seen eerily similar performances in successive fights, and against very different fighters – any hope that he has fight left in him has gone.

The time has come for him to retire – but there’s so much money involved in the heavyweight division in 2024 that there’s no guarantee that he will. Before he lost to Zhang there was again interest in him fighting Anthony Joshua, which showed his enduring appeal, but while that appeal has again been undermined, if he wants to fight again he almost certainly will. 

If he does, it won’t be against Joshua, which was a fight I still wanted to see as recently as before Wilder-Parker. Before his trilogy with Tyson Fury became what it became, a fight between Wilder and Joshua was The Fight. It was the United States versus Great Britain; it was a clash of styles and personalities. It’s a real shame we never got to see it when we should have. 

The fights with Fury were both epic and brutal, and he’s long been a small heavyweight taking punches from bigger opponents, so it’s little surprise that at 38 he has so little left. He used to be a soldier, a warrior and a gunslinger – a fighter who fought to knock opponents out and who believed in himself and his power, even when he was losing rounds. Against Parker and Zhang, that “bomb squad” mentality looked gone.

At his peak, he was as exciting as they came. He won an Olympic bronze medal with minimal amateur experience, and then turned professional and produced one highlight-reel knockout after another. He’s one of the best single-punch heavyweights we’ve ever seen; he was also involved in one of the best trilogies, and even more importantly, he revitalised the heavyweight division in America. Wilder’s destined to be remembered alongside Fury and Joshua as one of the three figures who did so much to define the terrific era of heavyweight boxing that followed that of the Klitschkos. 

I hadn’t made Daniel Dubois the favourite against Filip Hrgovic. Watching him win represented a pleasant surprised. 

When he defeated Jarrell Miller in December I recognised how powerfully he could punch with both hands, and the combination of that with his victory over Hrgovic forced me to reconsider his defeat by Oleksandr Usyk in the summer of 2023. 

At 26, Dubois has lost to the then-undefeated Joe Joyce, having suffered a fractured orbital bone – which I know, from experience, is a horrible, horrible injury, and something he didn’t deserve to be accused of quitting over. He has also lost to the brilliant Usyk, having boxed well with him in the early rounds, and then responded to that by beating Miller when Miller was attempting to bully him, pre-fight. 

Hrgovic tried to do similarly, and was punished with big right hands from early on. Dubois showed impressive punch resistance and desire and ultimately broke Hrgovic, who was hurt, bleeding and tired. It was Dubois, and not Hrgovic, who emerged as the new player at heavyweight. In 2024, Dubois is very dangerous.

When he first emerged we were being told about his considerable potential, and after a testing period he has gathered the necessary experience and maturity to realise it. He has long been physically imposing and a good puncher with both hands, and he’s become mentally durable, as well as physically. Across his three fights with his trainer Don Charles – the first was against Usyk – he’s almost become a new fighter. With the benefit of hindsight, instead of being seen as falling apart against Usyk, he deserves the patience of being seen as a young fighter who was sharing the ring with someone as tactically astute and capable of breaking opponents down as Usyk is – as Usyk more recently again proved against Fury.

Until recently a fight between Dubois and Joshua didn’t appear to make any sense, but it’s suddenly become a potentially great fight. At Wembley Stadium in front of a crowd of 90,000, Dubois’ power and durability makes him a really appealing opponent for Joshua. Those traits have troubled Joshua before, such as the night he first fought Andy Ruiz. Joshua-Dubois is a real fight.