Prior to Saturday night’s heavyweight clash with Trinidad and Tobago’s Kertson “The Warrior” Manswell, unbeaten prospect Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., told RingTV.com that he wanted to get some rounds in.
The 26-year-old 2008 Olympic bronze medalist dropped his rival three times in 2 minutes and 20 seconds, his first-round stoppage victory being his 24th knockout over as many wins without a loss.
“We’ve got to get him rounds. We’ve got to get him rounds. But in the heavyweight division, he hits so damn hard, and that one punch can end his fights,” said Eric Gomez, matchmaker for Golden Boy Promotions, who was ringside for Wilder’s blowout win.
“Deontay’s still learning, but he’s got that God-given talent and he’s got all of the tools. He’s got that gift and that ability. But we’ve got to get him guys who can give rounds. That’s what he needs now.”
Wilder has been called “No. 1…among the American heavyweights,” and, “the best heavyweight prospect for winning the heavyweight title,” by trainer Manny Steward, who trains RING champion and IBF, WBA and WBO beltholder Wladimir Klitschko (58-3, 51 KOs).
If anything, the 6-foot-7 Wilder left no doubt that it is time for him to improve his class of opponents, this, before a raucous crowd in a fight that was televised live on FOX Sports Net and FOX Deportes from the Mobile Civic Center Arena Expo Hall in Mobile, Ala.
“I one hundred percent agree with [Steward.] I am, without hesitation, I would say, the best heavyweight that America has to offer. I’m ready for that step up,” said Wilder, who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
“It’s just about telling Golden Boy, ‘let’s do it.’ Tell Golden Boy that I’m ready to fight anybody and everybody that’s out there. I’m ready, and I’ve been ready. I’m ready for the world, and my time is coming.”
Coming off of June’s third-round knockout victory over former heavyweight title challenger Owen Beck, Wilder has said that he has benefited from having worked with Steward, Wladimir Klitchko and his older sibling, WBC titleholder Vitali Klitschko (44-2, 40 KOs).
“Every time somebody fights for the title with the Klitschkos, you know, I’ve been in camp with them, and I hold my own with them as well. So as a result, I’m much calmer and I’m a totally different fighter than when I first started,” said Wilder.
“You’ll see that more as you see me fight more. I work hard. So what’s coming to me, you know, I deserve it. The world saw a little bit of that tonight, but that’s not even half of it. I’m ready for the world.”
Wilder hurt Manswell (22-6, 17 KOs) with the first right hand that he landed, dropped him for the first time with consecutive lead rights, floored him once more with a left hook, and then finished him with jab-right-jab combination.
“Deontay caught that guy with a really great fight hand, and I don’t think that Manswell ever really recovered,” said trainer Jay Deas of Wilder, who weighed a career-high 228.5 pounds to 251 for the 6-4 Manswell.
“I thought that Deontay’s speed was the difference. I thought that his speed just looked really, really good. Deontay’s maintained that speed even though he’s moved up to 228 pounds. I’m looking forward to the future, and I’m really excited about it.”
Although Manswell is coming off a third-round stoppage loss to Alexander Ustinov (27-0, 21 KOs) in March, he has gone the distance over eight and 10 rounds with former world titleholder Ruslan Chagaev and ex-title challenger Cedric Boswell respectively.
“Keep it your mind that this guy just went the distance with Ruslan Chagaev,” said Deas. “So for Deontay to stop him in the first round, which nobody had ever done, I think that’s a great sign for the future, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Deas said Steward got a glimpse of Wilder’s skills while working the mitts with the fighter during a camp.
“We actually went to a clinic that Emanuel hosted,” said Deas. “Emanuel actually had the opportunity to work on the mitts with Deontay. Emanuel enjoyed it and we enjoyed it, and I agree with Emanuel about Deontay.”
One of Steward’s criticisms of Wilder, however, was his level of competition.
“He’s got to get away from fights like that. Forget about the record. He’s got to start fighting some real fighters, and when he does, you know what?” said Steward. “He’ll beat them. So I think that the best heavyweight prospect for winning the heavyweight title is Deontay Wilder.”
Manswell, who is 35, replaced Kelvin Price (13-0, 6 KOs), of Pensacola, Fla., who pulled out of the bout due to a rib injury.
“Roy Jones said it best. It’s not that they’re not any good, it’s just that I make them look that bad,” said Wilder. “Listen, I work real hard. I go 110 percent inside in the ring and outside of the ring. People don’t know it because of my knockouts, but I’m always in top top shape.”
With the heavyweight division being dominated by the Ukrainian Klitschko brothers, Wilder is trying to become the first U.S.-born fighter to hold a heavyweight crown since 2007, when Shannon Briggs briefly wore the WBO’s belt.
In 2006, Hasim Rahman held the WBC strap while the IBF title was around the waist of Chris Byrd. Puerto Rican-American John Ruiz, the first Latino to win a heavyweight belt, held the WBA title from 2001 to 2005.
Vitali Klitschko is coming off a unanimous decision over Dereck Chisora in March that represented his 12th straight win and his ninth stoppage during that run. Vitali’s last loss was more than nine years ago by disputed sixth-round technical stoppage (on cuts) to Lennox Lewis in June of 2003. Vitali, who will next face Manuel Charr (21-0, 11 KOs) on Sept. 8, turned 41 on July 19.
Klitschko’s 36-year-old brother, Wladimir Klitschko, recently earned his 16th consecutive win and his 12th stoppage victory during that time. Wladimir is coming off a sixth-round knockout of Tony “The Tiger” Thompson in a July 7 rematch of his 11th-round stoppage of Thompson in July of 2008.
Deas believes that the next American heavyweight titlewinner will be Wilder, whose dominance is more a result of the former Olympian’s ability rather than his opponents’ relative inability, according to the trainer.
“We are stepping up the competition and the opponents, because Deontay’s opponents, statistically, are better than Eddie Chambers’ and Tony Thompson’s and Seth Mitchell’s and on and on and on. Of the top 25 American heavyweights, look at all of their opponents through 24 fights. He’s fighting the same types of guys that all of these guys fought coming up,” said Deas.
“It’s just that with Deontay, his guys are statistically a little bit better. It’s one of these things where if Deontay was 24-0 with 16 knockouts, you wouldn’t hear a word. But it’s just because he’s 24-0 with 24 knockouts that everybody assumes that he’s not fighting anybody. But why isn’t anybody else knocking these guys out like this?”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]