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Could Andy Ruiz Jr or Oleksandr Usyk be next for Deontay Wilder?

Former heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder returned to winning ways with a first round knockout victory over Robert Helenius in New York.

The Bronze Bomber was looking to respond to successive defeats against Tyson Fury and he put in a statement performance at Barclays Center in New York.

Many had questioned what kind of Wilder we would see after suffering the first losses of his career but the American looked back to his best.

Helenius, who had recorded back-to-back victories over Adam Kownacki as part of a three-fight win streak, was well out of his depth as he looked to take a step closer to a world title shot.

Wilder, known for his knockout power, showed no signs of rust despite a full year outside of the ring and he wrapped up the win in the final seconds of round one.

Backing up into the corner, Wilder caught Helenius flush with his famous right hand to send the Finn tumbling to the canvas.

Wilder said: "It was a great night. I was making him reach. I wanted to be mobile, agile and hostile. I set him up, allowed him to reach and then when he reached, I attacked.

"We wanted to make this fun again. You can do this so long it can be a job, just something you are doing. We made it fun. It paid off big time."

Sunday's win in the Big Apple takes Wilder's record to 43-2-1 and he boasts an incredible 42 knockouts.

Ruiz eliminator on the cards

The heavyweight division is as competitive as it has been for a long while and Wilder, having proven he still has plenty left in the tank, has a big 2023 on the horizon.

After stopping Helenius Wilder said: "Who's next? I'm down for whatever. Andy Ruiz, Usyk or whatever. I'm back. The excitement is back in the heavyweight division."

Former world champion Andy Ruiz Jr looks a likely candidate to go up against Wilder next time out with the pair both looking to stake their claim for a future shot at WBC champion Fury.

Ruiz beat Luis Ortiz via unanimous decision in September and reports suggest that an eliminator bout could be on the cards between the Mexican and Wilder.

Wilder is ranked number one by the WBC with Ruiz one place below him and it makes sense to see the pair battle it out in 2023.

Ruiz is also ranked number three by the IBF and number four in the WBO rankings so he does have other avenues to potentially explore but a bout with Wilder offers the most interest.

Wilder has eyes on champion Usyk

It was no surprise to hear Wilder mention WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO champion Oleksandr Usyk in the aftermath of his stunning victory.

Usyk, like Fury, is yet to taste defeat in his career and he offers Wilder the chance to get back to world title level, however, the 36-year-old will need to join the queue.

Wilder undoubtedly has plenty in the bank after enjoying an illustrious career but his trilogy loss to Fury has left him needing to rebuild his reputation.

Ukraine's Usyk hasn't been seen since recording a second successive victory over Anthony Joshua in August but he did reveal he wants three more fights before retiring.

He's expected to return to the ring in the first quarter of 2023 but isn't rushing to find an opponent despite being pushed by Fury recently.

Wilder has ambition to fight in Africa

Joshua is the other potential option for Wilder as the Brit looks to get back on track following his two losses to Usyk, which saw him relinquish the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO titles.

Related Boxing news

Deontay Wilder vs Robert Helenius - All You Need To Know

After failing to agree terms with Fury for an all-British heavyweight clash, AJ appears to have found himself firmly in the sights of Wilder.

The Bronze Bomber stated ahead of his clash with Helenius that a bout with Joshua is still "the number one fight in the world", while also revealing he "would love to do that fight in Africa".

Wilder and Joshua were previously in talks over an undisputed fight in 2019 and 2020 when they were both world champions but they've both since lost those belts.

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