What We Learned from Deontay Wilder
By: Niki Ross
Social media and sports news outlets are crammed full of coverage from last nights heavyweight showdown between Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz. The peculiar thing is, not many of the reports seem to be consistent. Opinions are divided between those who feel that Wilder has now vindicated himself as a champion of quality and substance, and those who feel that it exposed him as being grossly overrated.
Like most arguments however, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. What have we learned from that 10 round stoppage of Luis Ortiz? Wilder has limited ability. That much is true and it has be marginally concealed by fighting poor quality opposition. This is no fault of his own, the heavyweight division is bereft of talent. These days its a rare thing to even find a heavyweight in good physical condition never mind demonstrating skill and power like Tyson or Frazier at their peak.
That said, Wilder has still managed to look limited even when he’s putting guys to sleep early. Against Ortiz he was living and breathing for the moment he could land his right hand. His jab was snappy, but he didn’t seem to know how to do anything other than throw the right hand after it. For most of the ten rounds, he seemed out of his comfort zone and credit to Ortiz, he took Wilder to places that nobody had taken him before.
Despite his limited ability, Deontay Wilder has a wrecking ball of a right hand. Luis Ortiz is surely not an easy man to seat, but every time that right hand was slung at him it had an immediate impact. However Wilder’s punches are so telegraphed and often so wide that a decent fighter, or even one of similar age and condition, should be able to hang their washing on them. It is difficult to gauge where Wilder is since we have very few men worthy of being in the top ten never mind owning a belt.
Everything that was worth knowing about Wilder was found out in the last thirty five seconds of round number seven. Ortiz gave us an enthralling volley of crunching blows. It was boxing at its best, the underdog on the verge of pulling off the upset in the most electrifying way possible. In these fights where the men at the top go toe to toe, taking the judges out of the equation is the hallmark of superiority. It was nothing short of astonishing that Deontay Wilder did not touch the canvas. Had there been another ten seconds left of the round the referee would have intervened or Wilder would have been hurt. Badly.
What we learned about Deontay Wilder is that when it comes to heart, conditioning and punch resistance, he will never be questioned again. He overcame the worst type of odds in that round to come back and snatch victory from straight from the jaws of catastrophe. The picture that we’re left with now that the dust has settled is, Wilder vs Joshua is the only fight that matters. And its a straight up 50/50.
Joshua is the better boxer and he passed his acid test in stopping former champion Vladimir Klitschko. But Klitschko was no spring chicken. At 32 years of age, Wilder is in excellent condition and he has very little milage on the clock with only one professional fighting going the distance in the one sided scolding of Bermane Stiverne. Wilder isn’t shy to throw either and with the power he packs in his right hand he will be a hard nights work for anyone.
With Joshua being more rounded and more convincing in his wins, he has more weapons than Wilder has. He’s more noticeably composed when going for the finish, his punches are shorter and more compact and he uses more variety. He too packs heavy artillery in both hands. But he’s not hard to find and an ageing Klitschko gave Eddie Hearn the fright of his life when he sent Joshua for a quick lie down.
Its a fight that will no doubt have miles upon miles of text written about it between now and the first bell sounding. But unfortunately for fight fans that could be some way off. This doesn’t seem to be an easy fight to make with both fighters blaming each other for making early negotiations difficult. All eyes will now be on Joshua come March 31st as he has the stubborn Joseph Parker to deal with before committing to anything else. Boxing is a fickle sport, with the curious outcome from Saturday night, a pressure will now descend on Cardiff come fight night. Anything less than a convincing stoppage from Joshua might just make Deontay Wilder’s victory that little bit more significant.