Wilder displays ferocious power, but the rest of the division won’t fear him
By: Harry Hogg
Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37KO) retained his WBC heavyweight title last Saturday night with a brutal 5th round KO over Gerald Washington in his hometown of Birmingham. But the unbeaten American’s lacklustre performance has left plenty to talk about. Wilder looked sluggish for large parts of the fight until he found the opening in the fifth. Was it just signs of ring rust? After all the American had just come back from a 244 day layoff. Or are we beginning to see frailties in the ‘Bronze Bomber’?
Photo Credit: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions
First of all, Wilder deserves credit, he got the job done, and in spectacular style when the knockout did eventually come. This after the champ looked rusty and largely pedestrian like for the first 4 rounds, although he was ahead on one judge’s scorecard. But the opening came in the 5th and when it did he capitalised with devastating effect. But once again questions have been asked about Wilder, and accusations that his style and approach to fights has drastically become more negative, were ever more apparent on Saturday.
In his last four bouts previous to Saturday, Wilder has been taken past the 7th round before eventually despatching his opponents. In doing so the American has approached fights a lot more cautiously, waiting for the perfect opening before striking the killing blow. In contrast, before the world title win against Stiverne, Wilder had never been past the 4th.
Perhaps the fearsome American has woken up to the fact that against world class opposition, his wild and juggernaut style approach that has made him so feared, would leave him open to big shots against the likes of Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, Joseph Parker etc.
Instead, a more patient approach, all be it less exciting allows him to gradually wear down fighters. Keeping a tight guard and his opponent at range until he finds the gap he needs to produce his devastating finisher. Or maybe he is starting to show limitations.
Never the less there is one constant reoccurring theme, he gets the job done. But his performances will always be compared to that of his British rival Anthony Joshua. And perhaps this is the root of the criticism aimed at Wilder. Joshua has looked nothing short of stunning in all 18 of his career bouts, all be it against lesser opposition.
The glaring difference is that the Brit does not just provide the devastating finish, he dominates his opponents. Not only has Joshua never lost a fight, it is difficult to recall him ever losing a round. He is not just a monstrous puncher, he is an exceptional boxer with sizzling hand speed for a heavyweight. Combine that with excellent movement and shot selection he is, without a doubt, a more complete fighter than his American rival.
When the two inevitably meet, how will Wilder be able to cope with Joshua forcing him back and putting him under immense pressure? It’s difficult to see Wilder out-boxing the IBF champion. In the meantime, Joshua faces his biggest test in April against former heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko. Wilder no doubt will be watching with interest and should Joshua come through that test, the long-awaited clash with the ‘Bronze Bomber’ may well be set for later on in the year.
As for the present, Saturday’s performance would not have struck fear into the other heavyweight contenders.
Nevertheless they would have been reminded of the freighting power that Deontay Wilder has in abundance.