Patrick Kelechi, Lagos


DAILY COURIER – Former heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder marked his much-anticipated return to the boxing ring with a thunderous knockout punch that stopped Robert Helenius in the opening round of their bout at Barclays Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on Saturday night.


A punch like that one declared Wilder’s intentions to be a force in the division. In case it wasn’t clear by his performance, Wilder emphasized the point after the match.


“Deontay Wilder is back,” he said in his postfight interview on Fox. “The excitement in the heavyweight division is back.”


Wilder was making his return to in-ring action for the first time since he lost to Tyson Fury last October. After Fury got up from a 12th-round knockdown in their first bout in 2018, the English boxer became the first foe to ever get up from a Wilder knockdown in a split draw. Fury then proceeded to win the next two fights by knockout, including their bout last year that featured five knockdowns between them and was considered by many as the fight of the year.


The back-to-back defeats by Fury were the first of Wilder’s previously unblemished career and stripped him of the WBC title he had held since 2015, and he had seriously considered retirement in the months afterwards.


Next up, he could face fellow American and former world champion Andy Ruiz Jr or Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk, while he also wants to fight Britain’s Anthony Joshua believing it would be “the number one fight in the world”.