Criticize if you must, but don’t dismiss Deontay Wilder
A week removed from Deontay Wilder’s seventh round knockout of Luis Ortiz, I’ve heard more criticism of the WBC heavyweight champion than praise for a powerful right hand that is largely responsible for his undefeated record.
Criticism is commonplace in sports and in life. There is always something we find that can go better or be improved upon. And, in the case of Wilder, there are things he can improve. His wide stance, which leaves him off balance unable to effectively counter or defend and the complete absence of combination punching, both come to mind.
However, to fans eager to say that Wilder would lose to this heavyweight legend, is no match for that one or is simply enjoying a reign in an era devoid of the strong champions found in the ’90s, I say:Stop and enjoy what you’re seeing.
Not since the prime days of Mike Tyson has boxing seen a man with such devastating one-punch power. It’s power that’s seen him come back against Ortiz after a shaky seventh round in their first fight in March 2018, stop Tyson Fury in his tracks in the final round of a fight later that year which most had Wilder losing,
completely demolish Dominic Breazeale in the first round, and, last Saturday night, end another fight in which he was trailing on all three judges scorecards.
What exactly is wrong with that?
Wilder is an excellent puncher and, fight-after-fight, throughout his 11-year career, he’s proven that. Would he be more effective if he threw more, or in some cases, any combinations to set up that right hand? Certainly. He could be ahead on the scorecards and not have to rely on one punch to pull out a victory. Improved
combination punching may also make his fights more exciting.
A great boxer though is not what Wilder is. He is, however, a tremendous puncher with arguably the most devastating right hand in boxing history. His right hand delivers a result that every boxer who steps into the ring hopes to duplicate. It’s earned him one of the heavyweight crowns and has given him a sense of Invincibility at a time when other top-tier heavyweights — most notably Andy RuizJr. and Anthony Joshua — are having to prove that same invincibility to themselves and the public.
Wilder’s one-dimensional style — or more accurately his strength — is no different from the strengths of any other boxer. As Floyd Mayweather flawlessly danced his way to a 50-0 record no one said, “ya know he needs to work on a knockout punch.”
When Muhammad Ali tired Sonny Liston into submission in February of 1964 to shake up the world no one said, “why’s he dancing so much? He needs to learn to stand and trade!” In Mayweather’s case, the few times he tried to stand flat-footed in front of someone and rely on power — most notably against Shane Mosley — he almost got knocked out. Similarly, when Ali’s legs weren’t as swift — think both Ken Norton fights, and the Thrilla in Manilla — he sustained the most damage.
That’s not to say boxers can’t make changes. But in a pinch, they’ll rely on their strengths. Wilder has been in some tough rounds in three of his last four fights, and each time, that powerful right has emphatically proven what Wilder was saying as he celebrated in the ring at the MGM Grand: All it takes is one!
Perhaps the critics are correct. Maybe Wilder’s lack of boxing skill will eventually be his downfall. However, just as it only takes one punch from Wilder to end a fight it also takes just one person with a chin strong enough to withstand that power and persevere.
While we wait and see if that man exists, let’s enjoy Wilder’s special championship reign instead of finding ways to diminish it.