Just how good is Deontay Wilder?
Deontay Wilder collected his 37th knockout and improved to 38-0 when he starched Gerald Washington in the fifth round in front of his hometown fans at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, on February 25.
With a record so pristine and a knockout ratio through the roof, you would think that Wilder would be in the conversation as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
But he isn’t.
And that’s for good reason. Despite the unbeaten record and the highlight-reel knockouts, Wilder still has some ways to go to smooth out the rough edges he still possesses. And this is one of those cases where you can honestly say that Wilder could use a few more fights before attempting to unify the titles.
Immediately there will be those who are critical of this with the suggestion that 38 fights should be more than enough. While that may be true in some cases, it’s not for Wilder. Although he has 38 fights, he has only boxed a grand total of 112 rounds over the course of nine years. That may sound like a lot, but it really isn’t for a professional. That’s ten 12-round fights, something that most fighters can get through in much less time.
And if you watch Wilder, you can see that he still needs polish. Fortunately, he possesses some two-handed dynamite that rectifies any potential problems that he faces in the ring.
This isn’t to say that Wilder is a boxing novice, because he’s far from that and showcased his ability in his one 12-round fight to date, when he dominated Bermaine Stiverne to claim the WBC heavyweight title. However, if you’ve really paid attention to Wilder in his last few fights, it’s evident that there’s still work to do.
This isn’t a knock on him, rather the lopsided heavyweight division that doesn’t have enough middle-tier fighters for Wilder to compete with that can give him a challenge. It’s either Klitschko or guys like Eric Molina and Malik Scott. If Wilder wants to truly be a threat to the winner of Wladimir Klitschko vs. Anthony Joshua, then he needs to bank more rounds with solid competition. And the reason is that he wasn’t really impressive in his last few fights. He may have won each of his past five fights, but he was touched more than he should have been and had his fair share of struggles before he landed a fight-changing punch.
He’ll have that knockout power in his pocket against all of his opponents. However, he still makes a few mistakes that a better boxer would capitalize on. Fortunately, he hasn’t faced anyone who can do so.
Against Washington, we waited for Wilder to end the fight with one punch. However, as the rounds progressed, we realized that Washington had a potent jab that kept Wilder at bay for the first four rounds. Eventually, Wilder figured it out and lowered the boom in the fifth. For his next fight, it appears he’ll be defending his WBC title in a rematch with Stiverne. While some will say that he’s already defeated Stiverne and doesn’t need to face him again, the reality is that Wilder has an opportunity to demonstrate his improvements against a solid opponent. Would he be able to knock him out in the rematch or turn in a dominant performance? Either way, the fight is intriguing.
As a fighter with incredible knockout power, it’s hard to gauge just how good Deontay Wilder really is. We know he’s pretty damn good, but can he be great? Is Wilder the next great American heavyweight who can unify the titles and dominate a relatively stagnant division that is starving for a guy like him to come along and sweep us off our feet?
The physical attributes are there, as is the personality. Soon enough, he’ll get his crack at whomever is the champion so we can find out who really reigns supreme over the heavyweight division. And if he’s able to snare away all the titles, there will certainly be room for him in the pound-for-pound discussion. But until then, let’s be patient with The Bronze Bomber and his progression. He doesn’t need to be rushed into anything.