An honest assessment of Deontay Wilder
By Scott Bells: 35 wins, 34 of which have been by knockout, and 0 losses. An impressive resume for any world heavyweight champion you would have to say.
You cannot fail to be impressed with what Deontay Wilder has done so far in his professional career, but we must look deeper to truly understand whether this man is indeed the real deal, or another fighter who has been spoon-fed opponents and hyped heavily to maximise the return on investment for his promoters.
We have seen the likes of Seth Mitchell, Chyris Arreola and Byrant Jennings try to be the next American heavyweight hope, but something about Wilder seems different…below, we examine just that.
At 6’7, Wilder cuts an imposing figure in and out of the ring and has excellent athleticism for a man his size. He does possess natural hand-speed and an excellent reach, something most notably shown also by undisputed champion Wladimir Klitschko.
At 30 years old, he should be considered to be in his prime, and his physical abilities should not start to decline for a while. He has not taken much, if any punishment so far in his career, and so should be considered in tremendous shape.
This has always been a hard one to rate as, before his fight with Stiverne, he had not needed anything but his power to get him through. All new fighters are given easy opponents early in their career as they work their way up and get more rounds in, but to be 30-0 and only have faced 3rd tier opposition is too slow a development, meaning his handlers clearly saw they needed to not rush him.
To be fair to Wilder, he demonstrated excellent patience and maturity in his win against Stiverne, which was by far the best performance of his career. He did get hit, but took punches well.
However, he struggled to put away 2nd/3rd tier fighter Eric Molina and similar opposition in his latest fight with Johann Duhaupas. Worryingly for Wilder, he looked very easy to hit, and kept his left hand very low throughout. While his boxing ability seems to be improving with every fight, he needs to develop more on the defence as real power punchers in the heavyweight division can knock anyone out with one shot.
My biggest question with Wilder is whether his power, which he obviously possesses, is going carry the same weight against the best fighters in the division. 9 rounds to put away Molina (who was obliterated by Chris Arreola who doesn’t have much power), couldn’t put away Stiverne…..now that he is fighting at a higher level, the quick knockouts are not coming. That’s not to say he couldn’t knock out Klitschko if he caught him clean as I think he would, but whether he catches him is another story. His power has been built on a resume of awful quality fighters, so it is the next 3-4 fights where we will see if it is real. He has a tendency to put 100% into every shot, and so he needs to be careful not to get countered by the best fighters in the division.
As I mention above, Wilder’s opponents have been pretty awful (apart from Stiverne and arguably, Malik Scott). Eric Molina and Duhaupas were not title challenger material – it doesn’t matter if you are a huge Wilder fan, it is not the quality of fighter who he should be facing.
I would like to see the Alexander Povetkin fight happen, and for Wilder to get a defence in before then. Someone who has been active in the division and getting some wins would be preferable. A win against a fighter such as Kubrat Pulev, Carlos Takam or Artur Szpilka (these are the only ones who are available) would be a good yard stick for where he is at the moment in terms of his development. These three have all tasted defeat but have wins on their records that mean they should be taken seriously. No, they are not top tier fighters, but they are better than Molina and co!
Is Deontay Wilder a hype job? No, he is not. He has the potential to be a very good fighter indeed, and has the vulnerability that makes any fighter (such as Amir Khan for example) exciting to watch.
With power on his side and a confident persona, he needs to kick on with some real quality wins to follow-up on his solitary significant win against Stiverne. The heavyweight division is not full to the brim with quality fighters, but for a fighter like Wilder where the prize is fighting Klitschko in a mega fight, he needs to build himself up to the point where people (outside of his fan base) genuinely believe he can win. Looking at Tyson Fury as an example, he certainly talks the talk outside of the ring, but will almost definitely taste defeat in November as Klitschko is the better boxer and Fury’s best wins are over Chisora and Cunningham (who knocked him down). He has not convinced everyone that he has the ability to win – with Wilder, he has an opportunity to do it a different way.
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