Deontay Wilder’s demise: A Portrait of a Faded Flame

By Dan Ambrose - 12/25/2023 - Comments

Deontay ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder’s upset loss to a very average heavyweight Joseph Parker has fans confused, wondering what went wrong last Saturday night for the former WBC heavyweight champion in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

It’s the way the 38-year-old Wilder lost the fight that has people wondering because he wasn’t throwing punches the entire fight, and it wasn’t because of what Parker was doing. He was barely throwing punches himself in most rounds, and he was there to be hit.

There are reports that Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs) spent too much time in a cryo chamber going into the fight, but few believe that to be the reason for his defeat.

Dan Rafael believes it was a combination of things that led to Wilder losing the fight. He sees it as the cumulative effect of his two defeats against Tyson Fury, his advanced age of 38, and his inactivity.

Deontay had fought only one round since 2021, and it’s questionable whether he was staying in the gym. He’s got a lot of money, and it would seem that he’s been enjoying his huge fortune, as anyone would.

Wilder could have fought many times in the last two years but has chosen not to, turning his career into a hobby and being casual about it.

Age & lackluster game plan

“The upset didn’t shock me but what shocked me was how befuddled with no ability to do anything is how Deontay fought. It was a real shock,” said Dan Rafael to Boxing Social, reacting to Deontay Wilder’s loss to Joseph Parker.

Like in his other fights, Wilder was reliant on his right hand last Saturday and didn’t use his jab, which was a surprise.

He’s been jabbing frequently during mitt workouts with trainer Malik Scott during the build-up to the fight, but on Saturday night, Deontay didn’t throw any jabs or left hooks.

He was just looking to throw right hands when Parker was coming in close. Wilder wasn’t throwing right hands from long range, and it appeared that he was concerned about being countered.

“I don’t know if it was the layoff or he’s 38 now. He’s had two brutal, tough knockout losses to Fury,” said Rafael. “At 38, you’re not a young man anymore, and he’s had some hard fights.

“I don’t know what the game plan was other than, ‘Let’s find the right hand,’ because he [Deontay] didn’t jab very well. He doesn’t use his hook. It wasn’t a lot of urgency.”

The only thing Wilder was looking to throw were right hands, but it’s unclear if that’s what the game plan was, though, because he wasn’t following instructions from Malik. He was being told to let his hands go in between rounds, but he wasn’t carrying out the instructions.

“When you’re with Deontay Wilder losing round after round after round, and you’re through four or five rounds, you’re still at that point not worried,” said Rafael.

“Now you get in seven, eight, and nine. Now you have to worry a little bit because Parker has banked a lot of rounds.

“Now, you get to the point. Joe didn’t do this, but there are fighters who can find a way to keep away the last few rounds and not do anything and not engage and put themselves in any harm’s way,” said Rafael.

Parker played it safe in the twelfth round, clinching Wilder frequently, but he was still there to be hit. Wilder wasn’t throwing enough to have a chance of scoring a knockout. It looked like he was content with throwing a handful of punches.

Misguided Corner

“I thought when the twelfth round came around, and he [Wilder] was sitting on his stool getting ready to go out for the twelfth round,” said Rafael. “You’ve got Malik [Scott] there. He’s telling instructions. They know he’s losing the fight.

“When you’re in the twelfth round, and you’ve got the giant fight with Joshua on the table, signed, by the way, you’ve got to tell your man, ‘You need a knockout.’ You can’t mess around and say it in code. You’ve got to tell him the real deal, and they didn’t do that,” said Rafael.

Malik was telling Wilder to go for it, but he was on cruise control, doing what he wanted, and he looked mentally defeated. Wilder had no confidence and he was that way the entire fight.

It’s unclear whether Deontay got worked over in training camp or what. Sometimes, that happens to a fighter, and by the time they get to the actual fight, they look defeated and don’t battle hard.

“I think you never know. When he was asked that question in the ring afterwards, talking about, ‘I’ll be back,’ but when asked about it if he still had the fire. He said, ‘If this is the last time.’ He’s happy with his life,” said Rafael.

Wilder can retire wealthy

“Obviously, he’s made a tremendous amount of money,” said Rafael. “He held the [WBC] heavyweight title for five years. He made ten title defenses, which is a lot of title defenses. It’s more than most people that win heavyweight championships.”

Wilder’s net worth is estimated to be $30 million, and that was before his match with Parker last Saturday. I wouldn’t be surprised if he received a paycheck of $10 million. He’s got enough money to live well, and he’s living in a state where things aren’t as expensive as in other areas of the U.S.

“He has nothing to be ashamed of. He gave us some huge fights and great entertainment, and massive knockouts,” said Rafael about Deontay. “If this is it for him at his age, and there’s no mountain that he still wants to try and climb, and he wants to retire, good for him. I applaud.

“I’d rather see him get out now with his faculties intact and a big fat bank account rather than hang on and become a stepping stone for somebody. That’s going to be up to him and his family to decide in the next few months,” said Rafael.

If Wilder does continue fighting, it would only be due to the Saudis offering him fights, but they would likely want to see him fight someone good. Wilder would wind up being a stepping stone for another heavyweight, who will beat him handily if he fights the way he did against Parker.

“I’d be a little surprised if he never fights again, but you never know with these guys finish up and have a chance to really reflect and think. In the ring a couple of minutes after that isn’t really the time to make a full assessment,” said Rafael about Wilder.

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