There is an American heavyweight boxing prospect who is lately receiving a lot of media mileage for his eye-popping ring record. The boxer’s name is Deontay Wilder, and if you have problems pronouncing his first name, you can dispense with the matter and just zero in on his record which reads a sparkling 31-0, 31 knockouts.
Definitely no typographical error in Wilder’s resume. Nicknamed the “Bronze Bomber,” the 6’7,” 225-pound Wilder has metamorphosed into a beast with catatonic power, knocking out every heavyweight who gets in his way. Last March 15, Wilder scored his 31st straight knockout win by stopping in just 96 seconds Malik Scott. Immediately after the fight, Golden Boy Promotions Executive Richard Shaefer trumpeted Wilder as the second coming of Mike Tyson.
We all know who Tyson is, of course. He was the diminutive slugger who became, at age 20, the youngest World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight champion in history when he demolished Trevor Berbick in 1986. Tyson was the last American to earn superstar status in the heavyweight class, leaving many to wonder if Wilder is ready to follow in Iron Mike’s footsteps.
A native of Alabama, Wilder played football and basketball before focusing solely on boxing in 2005 after his daughter Naieya was diagnosed with a spinal condition. He took up boxing late, but still excelled and won the bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics, becoming the last American boxer to medal in the Games.
Wilder turned pro in November 2008 with a second round knockout of Ethan Cox. Between November 2008 to March 2014, he has built up a 31-0 record, all wins by knockout inside 4 rounds. However, while Wilder’s record is undoubtedly eye-catching, almost all of his opponents have been carefully picked. You got it right; Wilder has been fighting foes in diapers, not boxing trunks.
In 2013, Wilder stopped Briton Audley Harrison in 110 seconds. Harrison was a former Olympic gold medallist who had been a huge flop in the pros. Wilder also stopped former WBO heavyweight champ Siarhei Liakhovich in one round, but the guy was already 37 years old and never carried much pop in his fists. In his most recent outing, Wilder stopped Scott in just one round with a huge straight right. The crowd in Puerto Rico initially cheered Wilder for his effort, but when the arena monitors showed that Wilder’s right hand barely touched Scott’s cheeks, the cheers turned into catcalls. ESPN boxing writer Dan Rafael later wrote: “To many, it looked like Scott took a dive and it’s hard to argue against that opinion.”
It’s difficult to gauge just how good Wilder is because of the doughnut-knitted opposition he has faced. Wilder once sparred close to 50 rounds against Wladimir Klitschko and the reigning WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion came away impressed, but Wilder has not shown anything in actual combat to show that he has the skills to survive a war of attrition. At age 28, Wilder should already be fighting guys who offer more than a pulse. Scott was the most accomplished fighter (70-3 as an amateur and 36-1 going into the fight) Wilder had fought, but the guy still was not ranked in the Top 15 by any of the major organizations in boxing.
Whether Wilder is a fraud or the next big thing in heavyweight division will be known in the coming months. The win over Scott made Wilder the mandatory challenger to the winner of the May 10 showdown rematch between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola for the WBC heavyweight title vacated by Vladimir Klitschko. If Wilder ends up winning the WBC diadem, he will have no other choice but to defend against the best competition available.
* * *
For comments, the writer can be reached at email@example.com.