Deontay Wilder, and when do words go too far to sell a fight?
Deontay Wilder essentially brought to light a philosophical question in terms of boxing viewership with his recent comments linked below – that made the viewer of boxing have to question; how much violence in boxing is too much?
For those that didn’t see Wilder’s media workout at Gleason’s Gym in New York City ahead of his upcoming bout with Dominic Breazeale this Saturday at the Barclays Center, broadcast worldwide on Showtime, well, let us break it down.
Essentially, Wilder said his goal is to kill a man in the ring while boxing, and that in a bitter grudge match between himself and Dominic Breazeale, he would aim for this goal to be achieved. One could look at this as a reflection of people saying dramatically awful things like in rap songs, but not actually meaning it, which is what seems to be the crux of our culture as of late, superficial social media interactions to convey a strategic point anyone? That being said, boxing still has a sketchy history with health and safety, and Wilder’s comments seem numb to the devastation the sport has left some people in.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a boxing lifer, and I love the sport to death, but let’s not act like generations of fighters have been afflicted by irresolvable damage due to the sport I know and love. With Prichard Colon’s case being the most notable in recent memory.
For those unaware, Prichard Colon suffered a brain bleed from damages in his October 17th, 2015 fight against Terrel Williams, Colon would be in a coma for 221 days and essentially will never be the same person, ever again.
Ray Mancini famously beat Kim Duk-koo so bad that Kim died four days after the fight changing fifteen round world title fights to twelve rounds, in hopes of limiting sustained damage. I mean, Wikipedia has a whole page dedicated to deaths in the sport of boxing and nearly every year you see one.
In short, to make light of something that could really happen from your actions in the ring brings up a troubling aspect of how one might think and operate as a person.
A LITTLE BIT CRAZY
Despite being a 2008 U.S. Super Heavyweight bronze medalist, Deontay Wilder is one of the most unconventional fighters in recent memory. Wilder has the most devastating punching power in the last twenty or so years, and the foot speed of a component professional basketball player, allowing him to close gaps and get to places in the ring, that seem unfathomable to his opponents. Mixed that with a good jab that disguises his right hand that has one-punch knockout power.
Wilder is a once-in-a-generation talent, you can’t replicate what he does, but also you have to realize to be as good as he is, he has to be a bit crazy.
Outside of the Bermane Stiverne bout four years ago, in which Wilder used distance to beat Stiverne, Wilder comes in like his name implies wild, and seemingly has a limited game plan. I personally think some of his unsettling remarks, which have happened consistently as he has hit the top of the sport, might be due to the fact that he is literally getting into a fight, based off feel and belief in his power, and less-so on implementation of techniques and skills he has worked, and if that is the case that is a scary thought.
Wilder has so much to like about him. A father, an American-based heavyweight champion seemingly willing to fight any and all challengers, as well as one of the few fighters at the top of the sport asking for drug testing.
It is just that Wilder has a pension for saying something that will be highly scrutinized. This isn’t surprising as that is the cost of fame, and winning typically fixes everything, but to some, it feels Wilder doesn’t take ownership over the words he says, as older writers and fans, know Wilder is viewed as a role model to younger people and his action impact what they do.
It also speaks to the Instagram-type culture we live in, in which the craft is secondary to something that could be made into a meme or a soundbite can be played to describe a mundane task in a humorous fashion.Wilder is just that, quotable and brutal knockouts.
In fact, we have gone this far without stating what makes Wilder so popular, all but one of his fights as a professional have ended by way of knockout. Wilder is essentially what most people want to see when they watch boxing, aggressive with a high likelihood of knockout or something brutal happening.
WHO IS DOMINIC BREAZEALE?
I suppose we should take time to talk about Wilder’s opponent, Dominic Breazeale, who was a 2012 U.S. Olympian in the super heavyweight division but didn’t medal. The bout between two former Olympians has not been promoted as such since Wilder and Breazeale legitimately hate each other and to the average boxing fan, it seems hatred is more important than skill nowadays.
After Wilder knockout Gerald Washington a few years ago, Wilder’s team got into an altercation with Dominic Breazeale in the lobby in which details are sketchy. What emerged were rumors of Breazeale threatening to sue and a whole lot of trash talk between the two.
Breazeale is a limited power-puncher, who reminds me of a limited George Foreman, a behemoth in terms of size, but not a body guy in terms of body fat percentage or bodybuilding aesthetics, who is willing to trade to land his right hand, as eighteen of twenty professional bouts have ended by knockout.
Breazeale lone career loss came to world champion Anthony Joshua, whom Breazeale never let his hands go against and was stopped in the seventh round.
For this fight, Breazeale relocated to Northern California, Hayward, Ca, to be specific, as left his longtime trainer, Manny Robles, for Virgil Hunter.
Breazeale in the build-up to the fight has talked about going back to his amateur pedigree and the fundamentals. As Breazeale is giving up an inch and a half in terms of reach to Wilder, meaning he will have to be deceptive and strategic using his jab, IF Wilder uses his full distance and doesn’t smoother himself, which is a big IF.
Breazeale is largely being counted since he has lost once as a pro, and because he is a soft-spoken fighter, who isn’t known for one-liner or soundbites.
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
The Wilder movement is continuing as he is become one of the marquee stars in the sport of boxing evident by a Tuesday night Deontay Wilder-only media day that probably received a higher turnout rate than the media day for the rest of card planned for today.
Wilder is a figure, who is looking to elevate, and become one of the faces of his generation, which he very much could, but in this instance with greater pay, greater viewership, comes greater responsibility something in the modern era, all athletes seem to push back on, but Wilder just as many as any other.
Deontay Wilder faces Dominic Breazeale at the Barclays Center on May 18th with the televised coverage beginning at 6 PM PST /9 PM EST.