There were fighters from just about each era who were known as brutal, ferocious punchers. Jack Dempsey, Max Baer, Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston, Cleveland Williams, Earnie Shavers, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Gerry Cooney, Mike Tyson, David Tua, and the Klitschko Brothers—Vitali and Wladimir—were each given credit for being among the hardest hitters of their day. We’ll even throw Ike Ibeabuchi onto that list. As it turns out, we just may be witness to the single most-potent sleep-inducing champion boxing has ever seen.
His name is Deontay Wilder. We didn’t say he was a great fighter. We said he may be the single, most-potent sleep-inducing champion boxing has ever seen. We believe that. So should you,
As far as his boxing skills are concerned, Wilder is a flawed fighter. He often pushes his jab. He also paws with it. Rarely does he throw combinations. Of course, when he has an opponent in trouble, he becomes Windmill Wilder. But, my Lord, can he punch with his right! Can he ever punch!
Going into the seventh round of Saturday’s night’s WBC title defense against Luis Ortiz, Wilder was behind on the scorecards of all three judges. One of them—Nevada’s Eric Cheek—had given him two rounds. The other two judges—veterans Dave Moretti of Nevada and New Jersey’s Steve Weisfeld—each scored only one round for Wilder.
Of the 20 members of the media we asked, ALL had Wilder behind. Three had scored not one round for him. None had given him more than two. This writer had given two rounds to Wilder.
For six rounds, the trimmer-than-we’ve-ever-seen Ortiz had backed up Wilder, outboxed him and outlanded him. But, as Wilder noted, “With my crazy power, all I have to do is land once.” And once he did.
That shot—naturally, a right—came with six seconds remaining in the seventh round. Ortiz had just backed Wilder up, his last shot being a left which curled over Wilder’s right shoulder and behind his head. Wilder threw a lazy jab. Then another one. Then two more. Although they had little power on them, they seemed to momentarily obscure Ortiz’ vision. Then came Wilder’s Weapon of Mass Destruction: His right cross. That’s all Wilder needs. Wilder’s right cross landed high on Ortiz’ left cheek. Ortiz dropped onto his back. He sat up at referee Kenny Bayless’ count of “FIVE” and pushed his mouthpiece—which was dislodged by the punch—firmly back in his mouth. He rolled over onto his knees with his fists on the canvas by “EIGHT.” He slowly rose as Bayless’ hit “NINE.” At “TEN,” Ortiz was not yet in an upright position.
“YOU’RE OUT,” Bayless motioned with his hands. There was no complaint from Ortiz. Or his corner. Or anybody else. The knockdown was a clean shot. On his feet, a groggy Ortiz was steadied by Bayless as the ring was quickly flooded by the cornermen of both fighters, by commission members and by members of the fight’s promotion.
At the post-fight press conference, Ortiz said, through an interpreter, “I felt I could have continued. I think the referee stopped it too a little too fast.”
Thinking Bayless stopped it too fast only showed how hard Ortiz was hit. I recalled the night of January 16, 1999–in that very ring in that very arena—when Mike Tyson fought Frans Botha.
Tyson knocked Botha down in round five with a single right. Botha arose and beat the count of referee Richard Steele, but when he wobbled and did so with unfocused eyes, Steele rightfully stopped it.
I was working with Botha that night, part of his team which included manager Sterling McPherson and cutman Jacob “Stitch” Duran.
In Botha’s dressing room, Botha—who was nicknamed the “White Buffalo”—looked at me and asked, “Randy, why did they stop the fight?”
“You wobbled when you arose from the knockdown, Champ,” I said to him.
“What knockdown?” he asked of me as the rest of Team Botha listened, adding, “Nobody can knock the Buffalo down!”
We all looked incredulously at each other, then at Botha. He had no recollection of being dropped by Tyson’s howitzer of a right. That was Ortiz’ reaction to his knockout loss, Wilder’s second one-punch knockout in a row. Last May, Dominick Breazeale, who had been stopped by Anthony Joshua in round seven in 2016 for his only loss, was stretched by a single Wilder right in the opening round in the Barclays Center.
Other single-shot, right-hand knockout victims against Wilder were: Kelvin Price (2012), Sergei Laikhovich (2013), Malik Scott (2014) and Artur Szpilka (2016). When Wilder lands his right, opponents fall.
Can he do the same to Andy Ruiz, Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, Dillian Whyte, Joseph Parker and the rest of the world’s Top-10 heavyweights with just one punch?
We’ll have to wait no further than the first quarter 2020, when at least one of those names—most likely Tyson Fury—will climb in the ring against the WBC Heavyweight Champion.
The Fury fight will be a rematch, the third rematch of Wilder’s career. In his first career rematch, Wilder faced Bermane Stiverne. It was their first fight, in January 2015, which made Wilder the WBC champion. In that fight, Wilder took a 12-round unanimous decision from Stiverne. In the rematch 22 months later, Wilder knew all he had to know about Stiverne.
A straight right dropped Stiverne in the first round. From there, the Windmill Wilder dropped Stiverne twice more before referee Arthur Mercante Jr. became a human flag, attaching himself to Wilder’s back as he stopped Wilder from pounding Stiverne through the canvas.
In March 2018, Wilder faced Ortiz for the first time. At a career light 214 3/4 pounds, Wilder fought—not only Ortiz that night—but the flu, as well. He came incredibly close to losing his title that night, being shaken up several times early in the fight and staggered in the seventh before reaching deep to pull out a 10th-round TKO.
As he did in his 12 rounds against Stiverne, Wilder learned from his mistakes. He knew that Ortiz is a legitimate contender, regardless of his age, which was reported to be anywhere from his early 40’s to his late 40’s. He also learned to avoid a punch-for-punch shootout. As mentioned earlier, Wilder is a flawed fighter, still lacking in many of the basics. Despite that fact, his heart, stamina, height and lighter-weight speed—coupled with his Weapon of Mass Destruction—combine to make him an undefeated world champion.
“What if somebody can avoid your right hand?” it was asked of Wilder at the post-fight press conference.
“Let them try,” replied Wilder. “Let them all try. The one guy I decisioned didn’t make it out of the first round in the rematch.”
Then talk of the other man who lasted the distance—Tyson Fury (D 12)—came up.
“You see what I do to guys in rematches,” said Wilder. “I put them to sleep. I put Stiverne to sleep. I put Ortiz to sleep. I intend to put Fury to sleep, as well. He’s going to get hurt next time. He’s going to get hurt and he’s going to get knocked out. There’s no getting away from that, unless, of course, he refuses to fight me. Maybe he’ll just stay in the WWE. It’s a lot safer for him over there.”
Is Wilder right? Will Fury get knocked out? Wilder has already knocked him down. Twice! Will the rematch—and you know about Wilder in rematches—see Fury counted out or stopped in the manner that 41 of Wilder’s opponents have been?
There are those who believe that Wilder is the hardest (right hand) puncher in heavyweight history. Others say “Not yet.”
Will they say “yet” if Fury goes down the way Ortiz, Breazeale, Stiverne and 38 others have?
I think it’s time. No, he’s not a complete fighter. Yes, he has his weaknesses. Everybody has his/her weaknesses. We’re not talking Wilder’s weaknesses here. We’re talking about his strengths. Especially one of them. His right-hand punching power.
He’s the one!
There’s a new charitable organization which is about to launch in boxing, and it’s called “Friends of the Champ.” The money raised by the organization will go solely to helping ex-fighters in need. Their kickoff banquet will take place on Sunday, February 16, from 11:00a.m.-4:00pm at the Cambria Hotel in White Plains, N.Y.
My longtime SiriusXM partner Gerry Cooney will be given a well-deserved Humanitarian Award at their initial banquet for his endless charity work. I’ll be telling you more about this new organization over the next few weeks. We welcome them and all they promise to do for ex-fighters in need.
Recent Activity: Saturday night at the Twin River Event Center in Lincoln, R.I., CES Boxing (Jimmy Burchfield) put on a club show which featured the comebacks of local attractions Peter Manfredo and Brian Barbosa. Manfredo, a popular resident of Providence, R.I., hadn’t fought since May 2016, when he battled to an eight-round split decision draw against 15-7-2 Vladine Biosse. After three years off but never far away from the gym, Manfredo has decided to give it one more shot. So, at 170 pounds, Manfredo sold a slew of tickets and faced 11-7-2 Melvin Russell of Kentucky—who brought four consecutive losses, and six losses in his last seven fights, into the Twin River ring. Manfredo got him out of there in 1:19 of the first round. Let’s see what promoter Jimmy Burchfield plans next for Manfredo…As for Brian “The Bull” Barbosa, he hadn’t fought since dropping an eight-round decision to Vincent Miranda in April 2013. The fight was at light heavyweight, a far cry from when he made his debut in 1991 as an 18-year-old welterweight at the Providence Civic Center. He eventually captured the USBA & WBO NABO Middleweight Titles, but the big shots never came. He packed it in after failing a post-fight drug test in 2003. A comeback win followed in 2011, but he was 38, and 171 pounds. Another win followed six months later, at a trimmer 168 pounds, and he knocked his heavier opponent out. Then came his unanimous decision loss to Miranda and another retirement. Now, at 46, Barbosa is back for one more try. On the Twin River card, he won a majority decision against Tim Cronin. Cronin weighed 175. Barbosa weighed 179. Cronin was winless in his last four fights. Barbosa won on a six-round majority decision, upping his record to 32-7 (23). We can only hope he took the fight so he could say he won his final bout.
You’ve been hearing talk about Floyd Mayweather coming back. Is he really coming back? If he does, who will it be against? Join us next week he in COMMISSIONER’S CORNER as we delve into the possible comeback of the self-proclaimed TBE, Floyd $$$ Mayweather.
PUBLISHER GIFT IDEAR HERE: The Commish wrote a great book, did you know?