I AM pretty sure the majority of British viewers that watched Deontay Wilder defend his WBC heavyweight title against Eric Molina where wondered how far away Anthony Joshua is, in terms of ability and development, to the champion. Well the answer for me was he is ready for him now.
That surely isn’t Wilder at his best, or is it? His defence looked close to non-existent, his power over-hyped, his stance too wide, and his hands too low – at least in comparison to top world heavyweight champions of the past. I am not saying throw Joshua in with him now, but there didn’t seem to be too much to fear from Wilder, and there’s not long to go now.
Molina looked like he was afraid of him from the off, and reminded me of a journeyman thrown in as a substitute at the last minute to make the numbers up. But he settled to even hurt Wilder in the third round, yet he was so surprised by his success he thought he was dreaming and couldn’t follow it through. Imagine Fury in there instead; he would have him eating the jab, and sleeping on the right handers.
I think just because Wilder is an American and a heavyweight the perception is he has to be feared. I know he has a lot of early finishes to his record, but so has Joshua, and both are guilty of beating up overmatched opponents. The media build up these fighters from abroad into Superman, the fighters themselves read about it, and if you hear enough, for long enough you will start to believe it. This happened to a large extent with Mike Tyson – he destroyed a lot of opponents early on in his career, got his reputation, then he got an entourage that were just as loud as him and it was safety in numbers. At the weigh-in and the lead up to the fight they were always around and louder their presence threatening and when the fighter got in they ring Tyson did the rest, it is something I have witnessed at first hand. He was a very good heavyweight but not great. Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, and Buster Douglas all beat him well. Deontay Wilder is just an ordinary heavyweight that is from America where they used to turn heavyweights out like hamburgers but that has all changed. Now we turn the heavyweights out on this side of the Atlantic and they are just as good and some even better.
I can’t finish off without giving Lee Haskins a mention. Well done lad, now there is a guy that has put in the hard yards, I remember refereeing Lee about nine or 10 years ago for the Commonwealth title and he has stuck at it, he has come through all his ups and downs, good and debatable decisions and believed in himself. I wasn’t too impressed with his opponent – the Japanese Ryosuke Iwasa – as I expected more from him. Saying that, Haskins’ lateral movement never allowed him to settle and then they good night Vienna pill put him out of his misery. It will be a longer flight back for the Japanese fighter, and a short drive for the new Interim IBF bantamweight champion.