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.