Deontay Wilder’s Legend is in Full Bloom
By: Kirk Jackson
He wants his roses now.
In the tarot, the rose is considered a symbol of balance. It expresses promise, new beginnings, and hope. Its thorns represent defense, physicality, loss, recklessness.
Over a broad scope, these attributes can be used to describe Deontay Wilder’s style of fighting, the trials and tribulations of caring for a child with spina bifida, among other obstacles. These same features may also apply to some of the struggles inside the boxing ring and also to his ability to overcome and stand as the fighter we see today.
The frequency at which Deontay Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KO’s) produces knock-outs and spectacular results shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore.
Wilder epitomizes “Bomb Squad,” as his incendiary fists, are equipped with explosive power.
It was predicted previously, by the late great trainer Emanuel Steward and also referenced in another editorial, Wilder’s extraordinary story would unfold in front of our very eyes.
“There’s one kid in America no one speaks of and that’s Deontay Wilder. He was on the Olympic Team (United States) he lost but he’s a big kid,” said Steward.
“I’ve had the fortune of, he has trained with me before, he’s a big kid too, bigger than Wladimir (Klitschko) and he’s got good speed and power and best talent… and best talent is going to be Tyson (Fury) and Deontay Wilder.”
From humble beginnings with championship aspirations, to championship realizations, with ambitions of plateauing at G.O.A.T. level status (Greatest of all time), every move is a calculated step, defining greatness with every action and achievement.
Regarding the recent challenge of Luis “King Kong” Ortiz (31-2, 26 KOs, 2 NC), Wilder continues to address every question – regarding his in-the-ring deficiencies, close contests and attempting to right every wrong.
“I’m looking forward to fighting a lot of the top guys in the division,” Wilder said at the post-fight press conference. “I said I only have six years in the sport that I wanna dedicate my energy and my passion to, and I mean that. So, I ask everyone to give me my roses right now. You know, give me my due respect and my credit right now. You know, I am here, and I ain’t going nowhere. My style is here. What I bring to boxing is here, and I ain’t going nowhere.
Wilder is emerging as the definitive heavyweight in an era, experiencing a resurgence of sorts. With the emergence of champions Anthony Joshua (22-1, 22 KO’s), Andy Ruiz (33-1, 22 KO’s), Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KO’s), along with former champions and future contenders, the division is in a good position.
If Wilder continues his path towards dominance in this division, not only does he cement his significance and affirmation as the best in the division, he establishes his claim as the premier fighter of a generation.
Because way back when, the heavyweight champion of the world meant something special. With great prestige dating back Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, etc., the heavyweight champion of the world was recognized as such a distinctive title.
The heavyweight champion was recognized as “The baddest man on the planet,” the de facto leader and torch bearer of boxing.
Not to slight long-time great heavyweight champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, as they were great champions – with Wladimir holding court as one of the longest reigning champions in history.
The Klitschko’s were never fully acknowledged as historically great champions. They never quite received justified measured of praise and acclaim from media and many casual fans alike.
However, even if justifiably unfair, most fans and boxing analysts celebrated the exploits of Lewis, Tyson and Evander Holyfield. Many still to this day, sing the praises of the self-proclaimed “Greatest of All-Time” Muhammad Ali.
There are many variables for this reasoning. Performance matters and the aforementioned fighters had an amazing exploits and aesthetically pleasing finishes inside the ring.
To go along with their great accomplishments and memorable singular moments, they also possessed larger than life personalities. This is the case with Tyson and certainly Ali was a prime example as well.
In this current era of heavyweight, another Tyson, with the last name of Fury, has a magnetic personality with the skills to match. His imprint on boxing is noticeable and worthy of praise.
But the man of the hour hails from Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The leader of the “Booooombbbbbbb Squaaaaaaaaad!!!!!” Wilder, accurately labeled, blows opponents out the ring and possesses an explosive personality to match.
Although his personality is not demonstrative, but rather warm and engaging – that is if you’re not an opponent heading to the front lines preparing for war inside the ring.
However praise from a large section of critics continues to elude Wilder. There is a constant back and forth discussion of Wilder’s skills, or lack thereof depending who you ask.
But it’s time to squash the narrative of Wilder lacking skills or intelligence.
To say wilder is not skilled is pure ignorance u can’t be an Olympic bronze medalist and not be skilled he’s an unpredictable,unorthodox awkward fighter with death on the end of his right hand 👊🏽😵 he loses rounds because he’s not tryna win Rds he tryna send u 2 the hospital
— JulianJrockWilliams (@Jrockboxing) November 25, 2019
If Wilder lacks the talent, skill or intelligence to compete at a high-level as critics and some fans suggest, then he is making a mockery of boxing, because he keeps on winning.
For a guy to start boxing at the age of 19, win an Olympic bronze medal, win a world championship title and defend it 10 times, is impressive. In the amateurs, Wilder even defeated the eventual Olympic gold medal winner in his class, Rakhim Chakhiyev.
Again, if Wilder is such a poor technical fighter, or lacks the mental capacity to compete at an elite level, it’s quite the accomplishment to defeating a vastly more experienced technical master such as Ortiz, or to fight to a draw against the other most skillful fighter in the division, Fury.
“People always talk about skills and skills and skills. But as I can see it, I’m still undefeated. I’m knocking out everyone that I face. And these guys that have skills, they gettin’ beat,” said Wilder.
“So, I mean, something got to – I mean, it speaks for itself. So, at this point in time, I need my due respect, please.”
Perhaps doubtful observers may not comprehend what they’re watching, or have semblance of what to look for?
Using his most recent bout as an example, Wilder was behind 59-55, 59-55 and 58-56 on the judges’ scorecards, entering the seventh round against Ortiz.
Was it the case that Wilder was completely out-boxed and outclassed leading up to that point? Or was Wilder purposely biding his time, strategically plotting the optimal moment for attack?
A combination of both scenarios, appears to have transpired against King Kong last weekend, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“It wasn’t easy. Luis Ortiz is the boogie man, and a lot of people stay away from him,” said PBC broadcaster Lennox Lewis to PBC on Fox in analyzing Wilder’s win over Ortiz.”
“Imagine if this fight was six years ago when Luis Ortiz was a little bit younger, but he tried his best today, but Deontay showed his power, showed his strength and showed he’s getting a lot wiser in the ring, and knows how to figure people out. He knows he needs to soften them up first, and then take them out, not just go out there and take them out,” said Lewis about Wilder.
“He’s a great person, he’s always confident, and he’s always learning, and he knows he needs to go back to the gym and learn more. You never stop learning in boxing. So you can’t say you know everything.”
Really quick, important to note from Lewis, is his reference to how Ortiz is acknowledged as the “Boogeyman” across the heavyweight landscape and avoided as such.
Raise of hands, who likes fighting slick, technical, power-punching southpaws? Another question, who likes facing a 6-foot-7 inch freakish athlete, with speed and dynamite in both hands?
The rematch is a testament to the willingness of both Wilder and Ortiz daring to be great.
Pertaining to the rematch, as Lewis eluded to, Wilder was patient, because he wanted Ortiz to wear down and tire out. Ortiz exerted a lot of energy slipping, turning out and exiting towards Wilder’s left side, forcing Wilder to reach and overextend with his right hand.
Ortiz hurled precise punches and implored a great strategic tactic of digging hard shots to the body, underneath Wilder’s elbow. Instead of relying on straight punches, Ortiz would loop his left hand around Wilder’s guard, at times catching Wilder with solid contact across the chin. The Bronze Bomber displayed quite the sturdy beard in this fight.
There was a constant battle for foot positioning, because typically whoever maintains their foot on the outside distance of the opponent, that person with their foot positioned on the outside, can maintain greater control of range and confinement of their opponent.
There were times with Ortiz’s movement, forced Wilder to circle out and placed Wilder off-balance, to where he wasn’t in position to counter.
Wilder for his part, applied patient, passive-aggressive pressure, pawing the jab and eventually hitting Ortiz’s shoulders and arms – more than likely in attempt gauge range while applying wear and tear to Ortiz’s body. Hitting arms and shoulders at certain stretches was also a reflection of Ortiz’s great defensive ability. Certain instances can work both ways.
“I really had to be smart with him,” Wilder said. “We knew that coming in. We knew that in training camp. I went back and looked at videos, and seen what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong. I look at videos and I looked and saw what he did right and what he did wrong. And we put a game plan together. And it was an amazing fight.”
Eventually, Ortiz would wear out, as Wilder was prowling, looking for his moment to pounce. While weary of Ortiz’s counters, Wilder displayed great patience waiting for his moment to strike. When he sensed Ortiz losing steam, he opened up and his punch output increased.
The change of momentum occurred in the sixth round and carried over to the seventh round.
“I saw the opportunity, and I took it. And my statement, and I said these guys have to be perfect with me for 12 rounds, I only have to be perfect for two seconds, it’s legit. I proved that tonight as well. We’re still undefeated. We still have our belt. And now we move on to the next phase and chapter in my life. I’m looking to be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.”
There is a measure to the madness, there is tact behind his actions and Wilder is not a typical brawler.
Due to Wilder’s unique gift of one-punch knock-out power, he may want to consider changing his ring moniker. Instead of The Bronze Bomber, he can change his nick-name to One-Punch Man, of Viz Media LLC fame.
For those not familiar with manga/anime, One-Punch Man tells the story of Saitama, a superhero who can defeat any opponent with a single punch but seeks to find a worthy opponent after growing bored by a lack of challenge in his fight against evil.
Only thing is Wilder isn’t a parody; one-punch knock-out ability is reality. A cold dose of reality.
Many great power punchers occupy this current era of boxing; Naoya Inoue, Saul Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Errol Spence, Artur Beterbiev, are among the stand-outs.
From the perspective of pure punching power, while boasting a knock-out ratio of 98 percent, Wilder stands the tallest amongst his peers.
His willingness to seek solid opposition to solidify his stature, is important for his legacy and overall for the state of boxing, even if the results do not necessarily reflect the pound-for-pound rankings.
“When you’re dealing with pound-for-pound, I don’t think it belongs in the heavyweight division,” Wilder said. “We stay in one division. We can’t go up and down, like all these small guys. So, you know, I don’t really consider us having a pound-for-pound. And, you know, you’re always gonna have people say this and say that.
His recent rejection of the dubious WBC branded “Franchise Champion” tag is a breath of fresh air as well. The landscape of boxing is already saturated with titles and tags confusing to many fans, fighters and media members alike.
Quite frankly, the franchise tag looks like a convenient out for the selected fighter to avoid his number one contender. It sounds like at least for the sake of clarity, Wilder is calling for unification.
“The heavyweight division is too small to have so many belts, it should just be one champion… It’s too confusing for the fans. I think I’m the perfect guy for the job.”
You know what’s crazy? Five years ago, @bronzebomber and @GGGBoxing had similar careers, knocking out overmatched foes. Except one was labeled a fraud, the other hailed as an invincible all-time great.
Of the two, Deontay turned out to be the real one. Imagine that.
— Philip Michael (@Philip_Michael) November 24, 2019
While there is no shame losing to an elite fighter, Golovkin has not captured a career defining win, nor holds a definitive victory over an elite opponent naturally in the same weight class. *Note Kell Brook was a natural welterweight.
Comparing trajectories, Golovkin and Wilder appear to be treading in opposite directions.
While some observers it may be blasphemous to compare Wilder to all-time heavyweight greats, it must be restated, he is more than holding his own comparatively to any other elite, active fighter.
And for argument’s sake regarding the heavyweight legends of yesteryear, with 10 consecutive title defenses, Wilder only trails four people:
• Joe Louis – 26
• Larry Holmes – 19
• Wladimir Klitschko – 18
• Tommy Burns – 11
He knocks guys out at any given moment and typically in dramatic fashion. He actively pursues the knock-out. Shouldn’t we applaud that? His devastating finishes go viral, even across the space that is social media. Wilder is doing his part to represent boxing the best way he knows how.
“You know, at this point in time you’ve gotta give me my credit,” Wilder said during the post-fight press conference. “It’s sad that it took me over 40 fights to get the recognition that I truly deserve. Because when people see me, they’ve never seen my style. And I know it took a while to get used to what I display, my talent that I present to boxing. But it’s different than any other fighter. What I do is not textbook. You know, you can’t really teach it. And I think that’s what makes me unique. That’s what differentiates me from the rest of these fighters.”
“Like I said, you know, none of these guys are willing to fight guys 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 pounds [heavier] and still knock guys out like that. And at this point in time, you know, I think I earned my due respect and my credit to say I am the hardest-hitting puncher in boxing history – period. And I earned that over and over again, continuously. Consistently, I do what I do time and time again, give people great fights and great knockouts, and try to fight the best. And still, when I fight the best, do it.”
With Fury in sight for early 2020, Wilder is living up to his promise to run back all of his close, controversial bouts, in effort to eliminate any doubt or confusion as to who the best is. With aspirations of heavyweight unification on the horizon, Wilder’s mission remains plain and simple.
“I want one champion, one face, one name and he goes by the name Deontay Wilder.”
Give him his roses now.
Keith Thurman in Pursuit of Legends and Legendary Status
By: Kirk Jackson
The man known as “One Time” finally has his time across boxing’s biggest stage on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View. The date July 20th, 2019 is finally etched in stone, as former unified welterweight champion and current WBA (Super) welterweight champion Keith Thurman (29-0, 22 KO’s), takes on eight-division and current WBA (Regular) welterweight champion, Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KO’s).
For a large portion of his unblemished career, the Clearwater city-native chased the big fish. He famously chastised Floyd Mayweather (50-0, 27 KO’s) for years, although while managing to conveniently circumvent a looming, menacing, encounter with a shark in the form of current IBF welterweight champion, Errol Spence (25-0, 21 KO’s).
However, en route to unifying the WBA and WBC welterweight titles, Thurman conquered former multi-division world champion Robert Guerrero (35-6-1, 20 KO’s), along with a series of other former world titlists. Thurman culminated his quest, defeating current WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17 KO’s) and former two-division champion Danny Garcia (35-2, 21 KO’s), capturing the WBC welterweight title in a unification bout.
A series of nagging injuries, along with a string of personal events subsequently followed, keeping Keith on the shelf for approximately 22 months. After a successful return bout and bouncing back from nearly a two-year absence, Thurman finally reeled in the catch of a lifetime in the form of Pacquiao.
The question beckons, now that he finally has this once in a lifetime opportunity, can “One-Time” still live up to his moniker under the bright lights of Showtime? Its been a long-time since he delivered on his promise of “KO’s for life.”
Not everyone is Deontay Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KO’s); armed with a right hand possessing the power of Thor’s hammer. And knockouts are not necessary, as of course this is the “Sweet Science.”
But when the fighter professes his love of knock-outs, with several quotes referencing such,
knock-outs should be delivered.
The last time Thurman stopped an opponent was Dec 14, 2013 – stopping gritty Jesús Soto Karass on the undercard of Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana.
In spite of the recent uphill battle, in his comeback bout after two years of inactivity against Josesito López, Thurman is still in a good position to end his KO-less streak against an aging fighter.
“I’m extremely excited for this opportunity to get a fight that I’ve wanted for a long time,” said Thurman at the Los Angeles Press Conference for Pacquiao-Thurman.
“The right circumstances have aligned for it to happen now and I’m grateful for that. Me and my team are looking forward to it. It’s going to be an honor to be in the ring with Manny Pacquiao. It’s going to be fun to go back to MGM Grand in my first pay-per-view with FOX Sports. I believe that Ben Getty would be very proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. He said I’d be able to dominate the welterweight division and be a multi-million-dollar fighter and a star in the sport.”
Thurman also eluded to weaknesses and deficiencies in Pacquiao’s style during the press conference.
“Manny Pacquiao is beatable. He’s been beaten before in his career. He’s a fan favorite and a legend. For me his boxing tactics are predictable. He fights in spurts and you have to take advantage of that. You have to be respectful of his power. But I believe my movement, athleticism and ring knowledge will be able to present him something he’s not seen in all his years of boxing.”
Thurman is in an interesting timeframe for boxing and for his weight class at welterweight. Regarded as one of boxing’s deepest divisions, match-ups of historic proportions remain a foreseeable possibility.
The champion from Clearwater, FL has the opportunity to align his stars with some of the greats of yesteryear and even with those of recent memory. Although the bulk of “One-Time’s” career is embedded in the pages of history, there are still many chapters left to unwind; meaning much is left to be determined and he has the opportunity to construct his legend.
Thurman believes his time is now and that with Pacquiao and Mayweather gone from the sport, it’ll leave him, Errol Spence, Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter as the main guys in the 147-pound division.
The narrative of the eventual fight and the story is the already cemented legacy of Pacquiao, with Thurman chasing his footsteps. Although the focus is on one another, each fighter frequently mentioned in the past, and even still to this day, another legendary fighting potentially fighting into the equation.
“It’s really important to have a (rematch) with Floyd (Mayweather),” Pacquiao told FOX Sports’ Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe during a recent edition of Skip and Shannon: Undisputed on FS1. “Some fans still doubt who won the fight.”
“I still believe I deserved to win. But like I said, I respect the judges. It’s why we want the rematch though; people have a lot of question marks in their minds.”
Not certain many people doubt who truly won the fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather, nor is there much demand to the see the bout, as both fighters are in their 40s.
But as history indicates, whenever there’s a fight with Mayweather involved, typically it generates a lot of money for all parties involved.
Regarding Thurman, in speaking with Sporting News, he mentioned, “There were moments where I kind of knew Floyd (Mayweather) was not looking at me as an opponent toward the end of his career. One of those moments was when I became the WBA (Regular) champion and he became the [WBA] (Super) champion because the (Super) champion is not required to fight mandatories, so I could not force Floyd Mayweather in any position to step in the ring with me.”
“I just don’t think I was on Floyd’s to-do list and then I had a few minor setbacks – not the same as the elbow surgery, but some shoulder problems at that time,” Thurman added.
While referencing Pacquiao and Mayweather, it’s interesting analyzing and comparing Thurman’s career, to the two main legendary figures he is in pursuit of. It’s always fun to compare resumes and speculate right?
Keith Thurman: World Titles, World Title Fights and other feats
• WBA Welterweight (Interim/Regular) Title (July 27, 2013 – January 28, 2015; 5 defenses).
• WBA Welterweight (Super) Title (February 7, 2017 – present; 3 defenses).
• WBC Welterweight Title (March 4, 2017 – April 24, 2018; 0 defenses).
o Vacated WBC Welterweight Title in 2018.
(7-0, 3 KO’s) against world champions.
(5-0, 1 KO’s) in world title fights.
Notable opponents: Carlos Quintana, Julio Diaz, Luis Collazo, Shawn Porter, Robert Guerrero and Danny Garcia.
• Defeated 4 undefeated opponents with ten or more bouts.
• The Ring Magazine Prospect of the Year (2012).
• Winner of 2 World Titles.
Manny Pacquiao: World Titles, World Title Fights and other feats
• WBC World Flyweight Title (December 1998-September 1999; 1 defense).
• IBF World Super Bantamweight Title (June 2001-2003; 4 defenses).
• WBC World Super Featherweight Title (March 2008-July 2008; 0 defenses).
• WBC World Lightweight Title (June 2008-February 2009; 0 defenses).
• WBO (3) World Welterweight Title (November 2009-June 2012; 3 defenses, April 2014-May 2015; 1 defense, November 2016-present; 0 defenses).
• WBC World Super Welterweight Title (November 2010-February 2011; 0 defenses).
• WBA World Welterweight (Regular) Title (July 2018-present; 1 defense).
Ring Magazine Title
• World Featherweight Title (November 2003-March 2005; 2 defenses).
• World Junior Lightweight Title (March 2008-July 2008; 0 defenses).
• World Junior Welterweight Title (May 2009-July 2010; 0 defenses).
• World Flyweight Title (December 1998-September 1999).
• World Featherweight Title (November 2003-March 2005).
• World Junior Lightweight Title (March 2008-July 2008).
• World Junior Welterweight Title (May 2009-July 2010).
• World Welterweight Title (April 2016).
• Has a record of 18-4-2 (9 KO’s) in world title fights.
• Has a record of 24-6-2 (11 KO’s) against former, current, and future world champions.
• Has a record of 5-1 (4 KO’s)* against International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees.
** As of 2019.
Notable opponents: Juan Manuel Marquez (4), Erik Morales (3), Marco Antonio Barrera (2), Chatchai Singwangcha, Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Timothy Bradley (3), Floyd Mayweather, Chris Algieri and Joshua Clottey.
• Only boxer with 5 Lineal Titles.
• Only boxer with world titles spanning across 8 divisions.
• Winner of 9 World Titles.
Floyd Mayweather: World Titles, World Title Fights and other feats
• WBC Super Featherweight Title (1998-2002; 8 defenses).
• WBC Lightweight Title (2002-2004; 3 defenses).
• WBC Super Lightweight Title (2005; 0 defenses).
• IBF Welterweight Title (2006; 0 defenses)
• WBC (2) Welterweight Title (2006-2008; 1 defense, 2011-2015; 5 defenses).
• WBC Super Welterweight Title (2), (2007; 0 defenses, 2013-2015; 1 defense).
• WBA Super Welterweight (Super) Title (2012-2016; 1 defense).
• WBA Welterweight (Super) Title (2014-2016; 3 defenses).
• WBO Welterweight Title (2015; 0 defenses)
• Unified Junior Middleweight Title (2013-2015; WBA, WBC).
• Unified Welterweight Title (2), (2014-2015; WBC, WBA, 2015; WBC, WBA, WBO).
• Simultaneously held WBC Welterweight Title and WBC Junior Middleweight Title (2007).
o Vacated WBC Junior Middleweight Title in 2007.
o Vacated WBC Welterweight Title in 2008.
• Simultaneously held WBC Welterweight Title and WBA Junior Middleweight Title (2012-2015).
• Simultaneously held WBC Welterweight Title and Unified Junior Middleweight Title (WBA, WBC) (2013-2015).
• Simultaneously held Unified Welterweight Title (WBC, WBA) and Unified Junior Middleweight Title (WBA, WBC) (2014-2015).
• Simultaneously held Unified Welterweight Title (WBC, WBA, WBO) and Unified Junior Middleweight Title (WBA, WBC) (2015).
o Stripped of WBO Welterweight Title in 2015.
o Vacated WBC Welterweight Title and WBC Junior Middleweight Title in 2015.
o Vacated WBA Welterweight Title and WBA Junior Middleweight Title in 2016.
The Ring Magazine Title
• World Lightweight Title (2002-2004).
• World Welterweight Title (2), (2006-2008, 2013-2015).
• World Junior Middleweight Title (2013-2015).
• World Junior Lightweight Title (1998-2002).
• World Lightweight Title (2002-2004).
• World Welterweight Title (2), (2006-2008, 2010-2015).
• World Junior Middleweight Title (2013-2015).
• (26-0, 10 KO’s) in world title fights.
• (23-0, 9 KO’s) in lineal title fights.
• (24-0, 7 KO’s) against world champions.
• Has a record of (13-0, 3 KO’s) against former or current lineal titlists.
• Has a record of (2-0, 1 KO’s)* against International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees.
** As of 2019.
Notable opponents: Genaro Hernandez, Zab Judah, Jesus Chavez, Angel Manfredy, Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz, Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao, Robert Guerrero, Arturo Gatti, Shamba Mitchell, DeMarcus Corley, Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo (2), Marcos Maidana (2), Carlos Baldomir, Andre Berto and Canelo Alvarez.
• Fourth boxer to win a world title in at least five weight divisions (Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya).
• Second boxer to win a lineal title in at least four weight divisions (Manny Pacquiao).
• Holds the record for most world titles held simultaneously 5 (WBC, WBA, WBO Welterweight Titles and WBA, WBC Super Welterweight Titles).
• Olympic Bronze Medalist*
• Winner of 11 World Titles.
While comparing Thurman to Pacquiao and Mayweather by the numbers, it looks skewed heavily in favor of the legends. Albeit minor, there are discrepancies with some of the numbers.
For example, Thurman’s title defenses of his WBA (Regular) Welterweight Title are not tallied as official title defenses – at least according to Boxrec. However, that very same title (the world title Pacquiao currently covets) is listed as an official title defense against Adrien Broner across the very same site.
Another question is how the Lineal and The Ring titles are tallied. The Ring title, differing from the four sanctioning bodies (WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO) awarded world title belts since 1922 and have their own championship policy. Again, minor details perhaps not truly important when grading fighters and their respective careers at the end of the day.
Nonetheless, it’s a tall mountain to climb for Thurman, if he truly intends to walk the same footprints traveled by his pugilistic predecessors.
“Manny Pacquiao fought Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao fought Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao fought ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley, so sharing the ring with Manny Pacquiao is like sharing the ring with all of these legends of the past.”
— Sporting News Fights (@sn_fights) May 21, 2019
It’s more than just sharing the ring with a legend. The truly great fighters, want to supplant the other great fighter rivaling them across the corner, each and every fight. Many don’t want to shine amongst the other great stars, they want to shine brighter; shine the brightest.
Come July, spectators will see which star illuminates brightest. The verdict is already out on Pacquiao, but the world will see how great Thurman truly is and if he can catch and surpass the legends he is chasing.
Deontay Wilder Creating his Legend
By: Kirk Jackson
This was predicted. Not the exact detailed description of what was an early candidate for fight of the year between defending WBC heavyweight champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder 40-0 (39 KO’s) and undefeated contender Luis “King Kong” Ortiz 28-1 (24 KO’s).
More so, the bigger picture and potential prophecy unfolding in front of our eyes.
The late Emanuel Steward was on to something when he predicted the future of the heavyweight division before his untimely passing in 2012.
“There’s one kid in America no one speaks of and that’s Deontay Wilder. He was on the Olympic Team (United States) he lost but he’s a big kid,” said late legendary trainer Emanuel Steward.
“I’ve had the fortune of; he has trained with me before, he’s a big kid too, bigger than Wladimir (Klitschko) and he’s got good speed and power and best talent… and best talent is going to be Tyson and Deontay Wilder.”
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) March 4, 2018
The fight itself far exceeded expectations.
Surveying most boxing experts or analysts, most would concur the match-up between Wilder and Ortiz was 50-50 and each fighter possessed advantages that could secure victory.
Both fighters had many questions to answer and both passed every test.
Similar to the fight last year between Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua – featuring analogous backdrops, albeit slight differences; young unconfirmed champion vs. experienced skilled veteran, the young champion tested through the rigors of adversity and the young champion rising to the occasion, emerging victorious.
The fight between Wilder and Ortiz featured various lulls and spots of low-activity, followed by high octane moments.
Both fighters attempted various tactics throughout the course of the match and the lulls in action were due to the mental warfare waged between fighters.
This was a game of chess and a battle of position, angles, adjustments and each pugilist attempting to land their best weapon.
There was a series of back and forth between the two combatants, although it appeared heading into the final rounds the challenger held the advantage.
Ultimately Wilder’s intangibles would hold serve as he secured victory via 10th round TKO in a tightly contested clash of titans.
As Wilder alluded to in multiple post-fight interviews, both he and Ortiz can be proud of their performances.
“A true champion always finds a way to come back, and that’s what I did tonight,” Wilder said. “Luis Ortiz is definitely a crafty guy. He put up a great fight. We knew we had to wear him down. I showed everyone I can take a punch.”
What’s next for Ortiz?
A well-deserved vacation, recovery and perhaps a shot against a title holder depending on what unravels within the upcoming months.
Ortiz was well within the fight, arguably winning despite the scorecards from the three judges who had Wilder ahead and remains a threat to anyone in the division despite his age.
Because Ortiz is older (38), it’s important to make the most of what he has left of his professional career, sooner rather than later.
For Wilder, he answered many questions and continues to build his legitimacy as the no. 1 heavyweight.
From a pop cultural standpoint, it’s fitting he wore the Black Panther inspired trunks. Play-by-play commentator Mauro Ranallo accurately referenced Wilder’s “Vibranium” chin throughout the telecast.
And like the protagonist in the comic inspired action flick King T’Challa also known as the hero Black Panther, Wilder overcame adversity.
T’Challa’s adversity was in the form of Killmonger and Ortiz – just as menacing, played antagonist in Wilder’s story.
There are many Wilder detractors, claiming he has yet to fight anyone of note and that he’s a paper champion. Some critics may mention Wilder’s style and dissect and highlight his technical flaws.
Is he flawed, sure. Name a fighter not flawed.
But Wilder is technical to an extent and there’s a method to his madness. He works to further develop his craft and possesses a few intangibles that cannot be taught.
From a technical standpoint, Wilder has a great jab; sharp, accurate, fast, powerful and multi-dimensional. Wilder utilizes the jab as a range finder.
Although he could not use the jab as much as he wanted against Ortiz, mostly due to the southpaw stance and high skill-level of Ortiz.
Wilder’s jab ties in with his accuracy. It allows him to line up powerful punches with his right hand.
Boxing analyst Paulie Malignaggi details some of the aforementioned skills of Wilder and how it may display against potential opponent Anthony Joshua.
Another underrated skill of Wilder is his control of range and distance. Combined with his athleticism, he can move and keep opponents at the range. Again, much of this was negated by the technically superior Ortiz, but Ortiz is widely recognized at the most technical fighter in the division.
The easiest trait to recognize is his punching power. One-punch, change the complexion of a fight punching power.
Drawing back to the fight between Ortiz and Wilder, the most important punch landed in the fight was a right hand counter from Wilder in the 10th round.
As he was coming off the ropes he took a few back steps, slightly dipped at an angle, changing levels and baiting Ortiz with false illusion, in attempt to create an opening and the tactic proved successful.
This is a tactic fighters utilize in attempt to create openings due to their opponent’s potent defensive skills.
The intellect is there, the ability to adjust is there, rounds 7 through 10 reflect that. Which ties into to Wilder’s most important trait.
His most important intangible is his mental strength. He has the utmost belief in himself (as do most high-level athletes) but he truly believes in victory regardless of circumstance.
Wilder displayed the heart of a champion.
Isn’t that what we want and ask of the fighters we watch no matter our rooting interests?
This particular bout encapsulated a Rocky-esque movie and squeezed it into 10 rounds in Brooklyn over the weekend.
As Wilder was visibly wounded and stunned in round seven, the pressure mounted as Ortiz closed in on what many saw an eventual victory.
With the incoming onslaught, Wilder remained calm, composed, regained his strength in the ensuing rounds and closed the show a few rounds later.
“I wasn’t hurt,” Wilder said regarding that tenuous seventh round. “I was in a whirlwind. I never thought Ortiz had power. I said that before. You know, he had me in that whirlwind and I was trying to get out of that tornado. You know what I mean? He put a lot of combinations together well.
“And I told Ortiz that he’s never been in a fight with a fighter like me – so confident, with a natural killer instinct, with a mindset like mines. You know, I control my mind. My mind is so strong. That’s what meditation comes from. It’s a powerful exercise, exercising your mind. Like I said, I’ve done fought him a hundred times in my mind, through meditation.”
In contrasts to the misguided beliefs of esteemed trainer Abel Sanchez, from a viewership perspective, the Wilder lead telecast was a success.
Especially if we considering the simultaneous airing of the HBO Boxing telecast featuring Sergey Kovalev, peaking at 674,000 viewers.
#WilderOrtiz bout averaged 1.1M viewers and peaked at 1.2M viewers ?
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) March 6, 2018
What’s next for Wilder? Unification is a goal mentioned on numerous occasions and Joshua is the main target.
“I’m ready right now,” Wilder said. “I always said that I want to unify. I’m ready whenever those guys are. I am the baddest man on the planet and I proved that tonight. This solidified my position at the top of the food chain tonight.”
A major hurdle standing as road block on what can be boxing biggest bout since Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, possibly surpassing the buzz and results of the recent Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin blockbuster is Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn. At least according to Wilder.
“We’re ready on this side of the pond,” Wilder told BBC Sport.
“I don’t believe Hearn wants this fight at all. Joshua is like a cow, Eddie Hearn is milking him for every dollar. Hearn knows I’m a dangerous factor to his operation. There have been no negotiations at all, no deal has been offered. But the world wants to see me and Joshua get in the ring.”
Wilder continued, “I don’t think Joshua has enough confidence in himself to fight me.”
When or if the fight with Joshua manifests remains to be witnessed, we as fans can only apply the pressure towards the powers that be to demand this fight.
The end goal for Wilder and for the boxing public is to gain some measure of clarity. In the age of alphabet belts, unification is rarely achieved, but an absolute way to deem who the best of the best is.
Whether this feat for the heavyweight division is fulfilled by WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker, WBA and IBF champion Joshua, by the forgotten former unified champion who Steward famously prophesized or the main man Wilder himself, time will tell which legend unfolds.
One Eye & a Bag of Tricks That Was Philly’s “Gypsy” Joe Harris
One Eye & a Bag of Tricks That Was Philly’s “Gypsy” Joe Harris
By: Ken Hissner
In the 60’s the baddest gym in Philadelphia was the 23rd PAL on Colombia Avenue. Such boxers as “Bad” Bennie Briscoe, “Cyclone” Hart, “Sugar” Hart, “Classy” Al Massey, Jimmy Young, “Boogaloo” Watts, “Smokin” Joe Frazier and the one-eyed “Gypsy” Joe Harris trained there.
“I came to the 23rd PAL from the 39th PAL and was one of the few boxers. The others there liked to go to war. One day in order to see whowas the baddest guy in the gym insteps none other than “Bad” Bennie Briscoe and “Gypsy” Joe Harris into the ring. There was no referee or trainers involved. It was only for about a one when police officer Duke Dugent who ran the gym with an iron hand jumped in the ring pulling the two of them apart! Duke yelled at the two and said NEVER AGAIN! You’ve heard of Philly Gym Wars?
This was best of the best,” said Al Massey.
Briscoe was the AAU 147 champion and had a jab coming up from the floor like a sledge hammer always coming forward. Harris on the other hand was as slippery as you could get using angles (due to the eye) with arms wrapped around himself and weaving around hard to hit.
“He don’t make plans because he don’t know what he going to do until he do it,” said Willie Reddish (trainer). Born in Camden, NJ, word is Harris was “bag snatching” on Halloween and got hit in the right eye with a brick! He was a jokester so when he took eye exams he joked and got by them.
I was there the night Harris was fighting “Irish” Bobby Cassidy, a southpaw, who was holding Harris with his right hand on Harris’ left shoulder and he still couldn’t hit him! He had a bald head and could slip punch after punch.
Harris’ biggest win was over then welterweight champion Curtis Cokes in a non-title fight at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He would be asked afterwards “where’s the party?” He replied “ain’t no party here man, I’m from Philly!”
Today Cokes would have been stripped of his title for he was “nowhere to be found” when Harris showed up in Dallas for the rematch this time for the title! There was no ring in the hotel lobby and Cokes was “out fishing” per the local newspaper with picture in a row boat! Harris would move up to middleweight never to get close to a title fight again.
Harris turned professional in November of 1964 in Worcester, MASS, stopping Fred Walker in 3 rounds. In 1965 he went 9-0. In 1966 he defeated C.L. Lewis over 6 rounds in a bout filled with bad blood between the two of them. In May of 1966 he took on fellow Philly fighter Johnny Knight, 14-4-1 improving to 13-0 with the last 12 fights all in Philadelphia.
In October of 1966 Harris took on fellow Philadelphian Stanley “Kitten” Hayward, 22-2-1, stopping him in 6 rounds though coming off the floor in the third round. Next up was Cuban Jose Stable, 27-8-2, defeating Sidney “Sweet Pea” Adams and C.L. Lewis in NY. Then he defeated Cokes, Philly’s Charley Scott and Hayward in NY before coming to Philly to defeat Dick Turner, 19-0-1. In 1965 he lost in a title fight to Emile Griffith before returning to Philly losing to Percy Manning. He would lose to Harris in 1966.
Harris would go onto stop Knight in a rematch in 1967. Then he had the non-title win over Cokes weighing 151 improving to 18-0 at MSG before returning to Philly weighing 160 defeating Teddy Wright, 46-15-10.He would return to Dallas in the co-feature to Cokes defending against France’s Francois Pavilla. Harris posted a win but was at 158 ½ while 3 months later down to 152 in a war against Miguel Barreto, 15-1, winning a close one. Then coming off the canvas in the ninth to defeat Cassidy and win a rematch with Barreto. In February of 1968 he beat Dick DiVeronica, 38-8, just 6 months to his career ending fight against former world champion Emile Griffith, 55-9 in Philly.
Just before the Griffith fight Harris would marry a bar maid in Atlantic City and disappear showing up at the 23rd PAL Gym. “I only had a week to get him back in shape for Griffith,” said Duke Dugent (ran the gym). He was up to 160 losing to Griffith over 12 rounds. His offense was not there but his defense was. His 24 bout win streak was stopped. This fight set an indoor attendance record in Philly.
Getting back into the ring with Manny Gonsalves was to be his comeback fight when it was finally discovered at the examination he had no sight in an eye. The charade and career for Harris was over. It was blamed on a gym war with C.L. Lewis who thumbed him and Harris hit him in return in the “family jewels!” With a blood filled eye it brought the attention of the physician.
This writer made an attempt to get Harris to either Puerto Rico or Canada where he would possibly be able to fight. I was with him at the 23rd PAL with Dugent and we went to his family doctor to get the records to prove he had been blind fighting for some time but the doctor was not there. I never saw Harris again and he never fought again! Harris was one of the most “colorful” boxers out of Philadelphia in their history! He was only 22 and lived another 22 years before dying from a heart ailment at age 44! He is still talked about in Philly gyms this day.