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Is Deontay Wilder Reviving Heavyweight Boxing?

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bermane-stiverne-deontay-wilder-weigh-in-04-photo-by-naoki-fukuda
(Deontay Wilder weighs in for fight against Bermane Stiverne)

Deontay Wilder lived up to the hype Saturday night, taking the WBC heavyweight title from Bermane Stiverne and moving his record to 33-0.  Although the predicted knockout did not happen,  all three judges unanimously gave the fight to Wilder scoring 118-109, 119-109, and 120-107.  Some wonder how Stiverne lasted the entire 12 rounds in survival mode, avoiding the knockout.  As Wilder used his left jab to set up his vicious right, there was no stopping the power of his punch on Stiverne’s end.  The total percentage of punches landed was almost even with Stiverne at 34% and Wilder at 37%, but everything else was far from even.  While both are known for power punches, Stiverne  fell short, only landing 38% to Wilder’s 53%.

Seen in the above video, Wilder has the taunt of Muhammed Ali (1:33-1:40) and shows the power of Mike Tyson (1:10-1:20).  In the post-fight interview Wilder stated “I want to bring heavyweight boxing back.”  Wilder seems to have proven he has the skills, heart, power and motivation to do so.

The heavyweight division has been not so entertaining over the past decade.  The legendary era of Mike Tyson came to a close with a TKO title loss to Evander Holyfield in 1996 and in the 1997 rematch where Tyson would be disqualified for biting Holyfield’s ear. Holyfield held the belt until November 1999 when Lennox Lewis beat him, becoming the undisputed champion. Lewis would follow to defend his title against the best, knocking out Tyson in 2002 and stopping Vitali Klitschko in 2003.  After Lennox Lewis announced his retirement in 2004 it set up Vitali Klitschko to face South African Corrie Sanders in April 2004 for the title. Vitali Klitschko retained the title in 2004 and held on to it until retiring in December 2013.

Although a very talented fighter, Klitschko failed to bring entertainment to the WBC heavyweight division outside of his home country of Ukraine.  Vitali held the WBC title until he would retired from boxing to pursue a political career in the Ukraine in December 2013. Since then, Chris Arreola would gain the title, lose it to Stiverne, who has fallen to our current WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder.

Deontay-Wilder
(New WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder)

It is safe to say this division has not had much press nor has it been much to talk about without an “entertaining” champion.  It also has been a division that until last Saturday night has not belonged to an American for over a decade.  The life that Wilder is bringing to the WBC Heavyweight could bring back the excitement and anticipation we would have for the next Tyson fight. Deontay Wilder is an extraordinary athlete and entertainer with a driving force that pushes him to be the best. Wilder’s daughter, who was born with spina bifida, is a huge inspiration to him. He stated, “She motivates me to keep going because I know that as a nine‐year‐old girl and having gone through everything – the needles and the surgeries – if she can go through that, I can go through the trials and tribulations of becoming world champion.”

Wilder has the mouth to gain your attention and has yet to fail to back it up. He is as entertaining as it gets in the ring and is a true fighter.  When Wilder enters the ring he is there to hurt his opponent, not to win by points and dance around. This is what many would say boxing is about and what has been missing since heavyweights such as Tyson, Holyfield, Lewis etc..  As the now 33-0 champ asked repeatedly to those who doubted him as a boxer “who doubts me now?”