Don’t Blame Deontay Wilder
By: Sean Crose
Perhaps I’m a bit biased here. Truth be told, I’m not one of those people who has a problem with WBC world heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder. I know, I know, he hasn’t exactly fought a murderer’s row of opposition in his 36-0 career. That, however, is no longer his fault. He won the belt via decision win over Bermane Stiverne in a masterful performance. Stiverne clearly wasn’t at his best for that fight, but that’s no fault of Wilder’s. Nor is it Wilder’s fault that Alexander Povetkin, his 30-1 mandatory, got busted having a banned substance in his system recently.
Keep in mind that Wilder, despite what many had predicted, decided to fight Povetkin in the Russian’s home country rather than giving up his belt. That’s saying something when you realize that Russia isn’t exactly known as the land of good sportsmanship. Needless to say, the Wilder-Povetkin bout has been postponed at the very least and Wilder has decided to move on. Who can blame the guy? Still, people are complaining now because Wilder is going to fight eternal contender Chris Arreola in Wilder’s home state of Alabama in July.
While it’s true Arreola isn’t the greatest opponent out there (indeed, it’s worth wondering how this guy keeps getting so many high profile bouts), he’s essentially a last minute replacement for an opponent people were saying would beat Wilder and who, again, Wilder had agreed to fight. Honestly, I’m not sure what Wilder is doing wrong here by facing Arreola. Some people wish the knockout artist (all but one of Wilders’ fights have ended in a knockout) would face a more formidable opponent, but top opposition means a top training camp specifically geared for that opposition. Wilder trained for Povetkin and now he needs someone to fill the dance card.
Besides, Arreola is fun. He brings it. He often brings a lot of extra pounds, too, but he brings it. I’ve spoken with the fighter and have found him to a be a good natured tough guy. Sure, he swears a lot, but so do a lot of likeable people. In a strange way Arreola reminds me of “Two Ton” Tony Galento, a comical, tubby slugger, who once managed to briefly drop Joe Louis before having Louis subsequently punch his lights out. He may not be great, but like Galento, Arreola is generally puts on a good show for the fans.
And let’s face it, the sport is in need of some entertaining fights right now.