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Is Deontay Wilder the Real Deal?

Kelsey McCarson

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Deontay Wilder

“Excuse me, Holyfield, but I am the real deal, too.”

Deontay Wilder is a fascinating individual, so there’s never a shortage of reflection-worthy material available after his media roundtables. Whether in person or on the phone, Wilder is one of the best interviews in boxing. He speaks with such joyous emotional clarity and he self- advocates with such strong and evangelical belief that even the previously mentioned Evander Holyfield would probably have agreed to share the his “Real Deal” moniker with Wilder had the fighter not already come up with his own.

But how real is he?

Wilder, aka “The Bronze Bomber,” is set to face Tyson Fury on Dec. 1 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It’s easily the biggest and most important fight of his career, a showdown against former unified champion Fury, who some still consider to be the lineal heavyweight champion.

“This is my time to shine,” said Wilder during that same recent media teleconference in which he compared himself to Holyfield. “This is my coming-out party–somewhere I was supposed to have been a long time ago…”

Admittedly, I’ve never quite understood how Wilder’s team landed on calling him “The Bronze Bomber.” I understand that it ties Wilder to his bronze medal winning performance in the 2008 Olympics while simultaneously paying homage to another Alabama-born fighter, the immortal Joe Louis, aka “The Brown Bomber,” but Wilder’s professional aspirations have always been to be the very best heavyweight in the world.

Why forever tie him to the legacy of coming up short?

That prophecy has been a bit self-fulfilling so far. As good as Wilder has looked over his 10-year professional career, he’s never been seen by the majority of people in boxing as anything other than the third or fourth best heavyweight in the world. To his credit, Wilder seems unfazed by it, noting that those he sees as denying the truth about what he is as a professional fighter are simply coming late to the party that is already happening.

“I was born to do this,” said Wilder. “And the more and more I have fights, and the more and more I’m able to display my talent among the world, the sooner everyone will realize that I am special. I am something that’s a gift from God.”

A gift from God? That’s a bold statement, and while God’s supposed gift to the boxing world has largely gone unappreciated by the masses, it’s hard to say right now that what Wilder says isn’t true. Just because Wilder isn’t considered the best heavyweight in world, doesn’t mean he might not be someday soon.

Still, with a glossy professional boxing record of 40 wins against zero losses, and a sparkling gold and green World Boxing Council heavyweight championship belt, Wilder often ends up being ranked behind both unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and former lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury as the third best heavyweight titleholder in boxing.

Honestly, Wilder was probably even considered fourth best by some pundits until he knocked out Luis Ortiz in March, and it was only begrudgingly that they conceded that he was a better fighter than he appeared to be at first (or even many) glances.

From a certain point of view, Wilder’s boxing life to date has been entirely about exceeding expectations. No one in 2008 predicted Wilder, who had just started boxing in October 2005, would even come close to medaling at the Olympics. And many people were sure the previously undefeated Ortiz would be his undoing earlier this year, too. Or that it would be Bermane Stiverne before that. Or someone else before that.

Show of hands, please. How many believe Wilder will be thoroughly outboxed by Fury?

Perhaps many are raised because Wilder, 33, from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, looks more like an incredibly gifted natural athlete who just happens to beat people up for a living than he does an actual world class professional fighter. If you’ve seen any of Wilder’s fights, including his seven WBC title defenses, you probably understand why.

Wilder doesn’t fight like any other boxer.

Here are some examples, of which, many more could be put forth: He throws wide and looping punches like he’s never been taught proper form. He carries his hands down low like his brain has no concept of defense. He frequently remains still after throwing punches to admire his work rather than pivoting away from danger like any sane and reasonable person would do.

Wilder just looks–at least in comparison to pretty much every other heavyweight champion who ever lived–to be a different kind of fighter. To put it bluntly, he looks plain wrong.

I’m not sure it’s really Wilder’s fault. After all, most world champion boxers had that special someone in their lives who provided them with what in retrospect seems like a stroke of brilliance in bringing them to their local boxing gym early enough in their lives for it to matter. Even for the rare champion who has to wait for that special middle school bully to urge him into the fold, the common theme among pretty much all world champion boxers is that whatever road they took into boxing, that road came their way before they were 20 years old.

“I just do what I do,” said Wilder about his strange looking technique, one he’s used to win every single fight to date. I’ll say this about Wilder. All he does is win, and no amount of complaining about how it looks or why it shouldn’t work has affected him in the least.

That has to mean something.

Everyone who was first at doing anything was probably ridiculed for doing it wrong. While Wilder doesn’t fit the paradigm of how a heavyweight champion is supposed to look, how many more title defenses does Wilder have to win before people start admitting that maybe it’s the perception of him that is the flawed and not the fighter himself?

After all, Fury will be the most decorated and skilled fighter Wilder has ever faced. He’s a heavy puncher, possesses a great jab and knows how to use movement and defense to befuddle his opponents. Would beating Fury be enough to turn the tide?

It’s interesting to listen to Wilder talk about his unorthodox boxing style. Wilder, a gifted athlete with incredible power and insane speed says he’s more about function over form.

“Everybody can have some type of special ability about them, but if you can’t use your powers, then you’re useless.”

Wilder sure can use his, and that special ability he has is perhaps the single most important attribute any fighter can possess. Wilder knocks people out.

But Wilder doesn’t knock people out the way the boxing world is accustomed to seeing it done. While Fury is a fantastic boxer by traditional measures, it’s hard to see how well that traditional measure will work for him when it’s so obviously failed for every other single fighter who tried it on Wilder before.

More importantly, who does Fury bring in for sparring that can mimic what Wilder does?

“You’ll never find that, especially when they’re dealing with a fighter that’s awkward and don’t go by the textbook,” said Wilder.  “See, I never been by the textbook. My style is what it is, and I love my style. And if somebody can come and give me a challenge and beat it, my style will always remain the same because nobody can understand it. No one could figure me out, and that what’s it all about.”

We’re all so quick to judge and point our fingers at all the things we think Wilder does wrong. That’s certainly a large part of human existence, but if he’s so terrible at boxing why is he the WBC heavyweight champ? Why is he undefeated? How did he beat Ortiz?

I’m not sure Wilder really understands what he does on fight night. I am certain almost no one else does either. Neither of those things really matter.

Just because Wilder doesn’t fight like Louis or Holyfield or any other heavyweight champion who came before him is of no consequence to Wilder. And just because the rest of us who see boxing as geometry and mathematics can’t make heads or tails about how he keeps winning fights doesn’t mean we’re all right about it anyway and that Wilder’s success is wrong because it doesn’t fit our expectations about what’s right.

Things don’t have to look real to be real. The thing that makes something real, a world class boxer or anything else, lies in its realness; not in the ability of something outside of itself to perceive that it’s real.

Maybe Wilder is the real deal after all.

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Odds Review for Friday’s Boxing on Telemundo

Miguel Iturrate

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boxing odds
South Florida promoter Tuto Zabala Jr has a seven fight card planned for the Osceola Heritage Center in Kissimmee this Friday, February 22nd that sees three undefeated prospects headline the show. For more than two decades, Zabala Jr has promoted the sport in Mexico and Florida and Friday’s event will air on Spanish language Telemundo in the United States, so check your local listings for start times.
A pair of ten round bouts hold the main event spots as undefeated Yomar Alamo faces veteran Manuel Mendez at welterweight and likewise unbeaten Carlos Monroe takes on Jonathan Tavira in a middleweight bout.
The 23 year old Alamo is from fight hungry Puerto Rico and he is considered a key piece to promoter Zabala Jr’s plans to run shows back on the island. The 28 year old Mendez once carried the ‘prospect’ label as well but Mendez is 1-3-1 in his last five fights. The experience of being in there with the likes of Sonny Fredrickson (19-1) and undefeated Johnathan Navarro (15-0) will make him Alamo’s toughest test to date. The welterweight division is crowded and Alamo is going to need to keep winning beyond Friday to get noticed, but he already banks on the fervent support of his “boriqua” crowd. Promoter Zabala Jr may be wondering if matchmaker Ruben DeJesus picked the right guy in Mendez. Alamo’s record in Puerto Rico looks to have a good bit of fluff. He didn’t face an opponent with a single pro win until his seventh fight. He faced 40 year old vet Edwin Lopez in 2016, but Lopez hurt his hand in the first round and could not continue, so Alamo is largely untested.
Middleweight prospect Carlos Monroe looks to go 12-0 as he steps in to his first bout scheduled for ten rounds. Veteran Jonathan Tavira provides the opposition for the 24 year old Monroe, who turned pro in December of 2017 and notched 10 fights in calendar year 2018. Monroe has been brought along carefully, as the combined record of his 11 opponents stands at 46-98-8. Tavira has been in there with the likes of Arif Magomedov, Dario Bredicean and Esquiva Falcao, all undefeated fighters on the way up. Tavira hits hard but he has been stopped five times in his six losses, so look for Monroe to improve on his eight KOs to date.
2016 U.S. Olympian Antonio Vargas looks to improve to 10-0 in an eight round bantamweight bout against Lucas Rafael Baez (34-17-5). Vargas was originally scheduled to take on Wilner Soto, a veteran with a 21-5 record and he was a big favorite in that match-up.
Below are the current lines as we start off fight week.
Fri 2/22 – Osceola Heritage Center – Kissimmee, Florida
Welterweight 10 rounds –
Manuel Mendez(16-4-1) +160
Yomar Alamo(15-0)         -210
Middleweight 10 rounds –
Jonathan Tavira (17-6)            +550
Carlos Monroe (11-0)             -1050
Bantamweight 8 rounds –
Lucas Rafael Baez        +1150
Antonio Vargas            -2450
(Opponent change for Vargas, line should be similar for new opponent Lucas Rafael Baez)

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Blake Caparello Looks To Grab WBA Regional Belt This Friday

Miguel Iturrate

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Caparello
This Friday night in Australia, light heavyweight contender Blake Caparello returns to action as he faces youngster Reagan Dessaix for the WBA’s Oceania title in the main event of a planned six fight card at The Melbourne Pavilion.
Dessaix currently holds the belt that Caparello held back in 2017, and the 22-year-old is hoping a win on Friday will put him on the international radar. It is where Caparello, who enters this fight as a 32-year-old, has been and hopes to get to again.
Those are the basics of Friday’s main event, the youngster Dessaix making a significant leap in competition level as he looks to get ranked internationally, while the veteran Caparello is hopeful a win will propel him closer to another world title shot.
Caparello laid claim to the IBO’s world title at 175 pounds back in October of 2013 when he won a comfortable unanimous decision over veteran Allan Green. Caparello, who was 17-0-1 at the time of the Green fight, went on to an introductory fight in the United States, and a win there saw him earn an August of 2014 title shot against WBO champion Sergey Kovalev.
Caparello has to feel he was close to a world title as he had the feared Kovalev down in round one before the “Krusher” took him out in round two. Since then, he has fought Isaac Chilemba and Andre Dirrell, extending both ranked veterans the full fight distance. The March of 2018 loss to Chilemba was for the WBC’s world title, and Caparello managed to go 2-0 the rest of the calendar year.
Green, Kovalev, Dirrell and Chilemba. The bottom line is that Dessaix had a solid amateur career in Australia, but there is no one with resumes like the men Caparello has faced when asked to step onto the world scene.
The WBA’s current world champion is Dmitry Bivol (15-0), who is making the fourth defense of his title in March against hard hitting Joe Smith Jr. The veteran Caparello could mount a case for a mandatory shot against either man with a win on Friday, while Dessaix would likely have to keep fighting and winning before earning a shot at a world title.
The co-feature bout is for the Australian title at 154 pounds and sees 31 year old Billy Klimov facing Joel Camilleri. Camilleri is favored as he has had a lot more professional experience than Limov, who turned professional at 29 years old. Strictly regional stuff here.
Both fights have lines at some of the sportsbooks. Check out the numbers as they were at the start of fight week below.
Fri 2/22 – The Melbourne Pavilion – Victoria, Australia
WBA Oceania Title
Light Heavyweight 10 rounds –
Reagan Dessaix(16-1)         +255
Blake Caparello (28-3-1)    -365
Australian Title
Super Welterweight 10 rounds –
Billy Limov (4-0-1)     +200
Joel Camilleri(16-5-1) -280
Check out the link for the live event right here. http://www.epicentre.tv/events/blake-caparello-v-reagan-dessaix/

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Will Fury’s Deal With ESPN Torpedo The Fights That Fight Fans Want to See?

Arne K. Lang

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Fury's deal with ESPN

For the past few weeks, boxing fans have been led to believe that the rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder was ever so-close to being a done deal. But in the world of professional boxing where Machiavellian characters seemingly hold all the positions of power, nothing is ever a done deal until it’s finally finalized. Today’s announcement that Tyson Fury has signed with ESPN is the latest case in point. It’s a three-fight deal that will reportedly earn the Gypsy King $80 million if he can successfully hurdle the first two legs.

As Thomas Hauser has noted, what we have in boxing today is something similar to leagues in other sports. There’s the Top Rank/ESPN League, the Matchroom/DAZN League, and the PBC/Showtime/FOX League. We would add that these are intramural leagues. Occasionally there’s cross-pollination, similar to when the Yankees play the Mets in a game that counts in the regular season standings, but basically the boxers in each league compete against each other.

We have no doubt that WBC/WBA/IBF heavyweight ruler Anthony Joshua will eventually fight Wilder and/or Fury, but it now appears that these matches, when they transpire, will have marinated beyond the sell date. The action inside the ring may mirror the Mayweather-Pacquiao dud.

A match between Joshua and Wilder is already somewhat less enticing than it would have been if it had come to fruition last autumn. The odds lengthened in favor of Joshua after Wilder’s raggedy performance against Tyson Fury on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles.

True, the Bronze Bomber almost pulled the fight out of the fire with a thunderous punch but he was out-slicked in most of the rounds and it wasn’t as if he was fighting a bigger version of Pernell Whitaker. Before that fight, casual fans were less tuned-in to Deontay Wilder’s limitations.

It was reported that the Wilder-Fury rematch was headed to Las Vegas or New York, but that Las Vegas fell out of the running when the State Athletic Commission insisted on using Nevada officials. Fury was the one that balked.

In hindsight we should have seen that this was fake news. No Nevada officials were involved in Fury-Wilder I. The judges were from California, Canada, and Great Britain. The California judge voted against Fury, scoring the fight 115-111, a tally for which he was excoriated. The judge from Great Britain, like many ringside reporters, had it draw. The TV crews, especially the crew from Great Britain, left no doubt that Fury should have had his hand raised and the controversy made the hoped-for rematch more alluring.

So who will be Tyson Fury’s next opponent? Speculation immediately centered on Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev.

Pulev, who turns 38 of May 4, sports a 26-1 record. He was slated to fight Anthony Joshua in October of 2017 but suffered a torn biceps in training and was forced to withdraw. In his most recent bout he outpointed Hughie Fury, Tyson’s cousin. He’s currently ranked #1 by the IBF.

On Dec. 8 of last year, Bob Arum announced that he had hammered out a deal to co-promote Pulev. It was subsequently reported that Pulev’s first fight under the Top Rank/ESPN umbrella would be against Finland’s Robert Helenius on March 23 in Los Angeles. Six days ago, the distinguished European fight writer Per Ake Persson told his readers that the fight had fallen out, ostensibly because the parties could not come to terms.

Tyson Fury is the most charismatic white heavyweight to come down the pike since Gerry Cooney and the big galoot is bigger than Cooney ever was as he has avid followers on both sides of the Atlantic and Cooney didn’t have social media to enhance his profile. I have little doubt that ESPN will recoup their investment in him. However, deals in boxing are never consummated with an eye on uplifting the sport – on patching things up with the disaffected – and here’s yet another example.

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