IT’S tempting to get carried away in boxing. Fighters win a world belt, turn in a few decent performances, and suddenly they’re being compared with the best in history. In the case of Deontay Wilder, the WBC heavyweight champion, it’s indeed tempting to get carried away, at least with his power – which has accounted for 40 early finishes in 41 wins. And the American slugger is not exactly a flash in the pan. He’s been a world titlist since 2015 and he’s unbeaten in 10 championship fights.
The cynics will already be spitting mad that Wilder is being mentioned alongside heavyweight hellraisers like George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Sonny Liston and Rocky Marciano. They will scream that the 33-year-old hasn’t beaten anyone good enough to grant entry to such a debate but, if they dry their mouths and try to stay calm, deeper investigation shows that Wilder has done enough to at least be considered.
Wilder’s world title record of 9-0-1 (8) stands impressively alongside Foreman, Tyson, Liston and Marciano.
1. MIKE TYSON, 12-4 (10)
2. DEONTAY WILDER, 9-0-1 (8)
3. ROCKY MARCIANO, 7-0 (6)
4. GEORGE FOREMAN, 5-3 (4)
5. SONNY LISTON, 2-2 (2)
Yes, we know that Dominic Breazeale, who Wilder smashed to pieces last night, is not remotely in the same league as Joe Frazier (among Foreman’s victims) or Ezzard Charles (who Marciano defeated) but the manner of the “Bronze Bomber’s” victories suggest his power would have been a factor in any era. The way in which opponents fall – not only the collapse but the subsequent splat on the canvas as limbs go all over the show – proves that Wilder is as dangerous as any in history.
Which brings us to Wilder’s ability to find the big punch. He can look so clumsy and raw, yet the bombing of Breazeale – if you count his last round knockdown of Tyson Fury that helped him salvage a draw – represented the ninth consecutive fight that Deontay’s power has played a significant part in the outcome. Even against middling opposition, in the context of the ring legends he’s being compared to, it’s an impressive statistic.
That Wilder is just as likely to land his bombs in the last round as the first also assists his case to be regarded among the hardest hitters in history. For example, while Tyson was at his most dangerous early (all 10 of his world title knockouts came inside seven rounds), Wilder retains that danger across all 12 rounds. In his nine fights, he has scored knockdowns in round one, four, five, nine, 10, 11 and 12.
The closest to him in that regard is Marciano, who won the title via chilling KO of Jersey Joe Walcott as late as the 13th round in 1951 when bouts were scheduled for 15 but, generally speaking, sluggers tend start fast and fade. But in Wilder’s case, he can legitimately end the bout at any moment.
What he lacks, though, is the ability to put his punches together in combination.
If you make Tyson the benchmark of throwing punches in bunches, then Wilder’s ability to throw more than two punches at a time is substantially inferior. Whether he needs to throw more than two punches is arguable; he generally only needs one to land and the fight is as good as over.
Technically speaking, Wilder is the weakest out of Tyson, Marciano, Foreman and Liston but – for one-punch power alone – there’s a certainly a case to put Wilder on top.