“So… Nice coat. Deontay you look like the heavyweight champion of the world. You just might be the most charismatic heavyweight champion we've had since Muhammad Ali.”
Yours truly, producing a genuinely authentic Wilder on the podium at the post fight press conference in the bowels of Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It’s November 4, 2017, and WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has just gone modern caveman on Bermane Stiverne.
What a difference just two years makes. You should've seen him; the champ is blushing as the room goes, “Whoa.” It’s a moment — and a night, that will stay with me always. I had every intention on rolling the dice in Las Vegas to watch Wilder (42-0-1, 41KOs) drop a spade and neuter Luis Ortiz (31-2, 26KOs). It’s just not how the cookie crumbled.
The hardest part of being who you are, is not knowing exactly who you were or what you'll become. You don't know who you're influencing or who finds you relevant enough to study with a fervor. Greatness is a process, and it’s the job of those charged with guiding it with delicacy to mold it into cast iron transcendence. Conversely, the easiest part of knowing who you were, is coming to terms with who you'll never be — Never Again. At once the “Bronze Bomber”, a woefully flawed ring grifter with flailing strokes of power, Wilder has truly become a wistful “Bomb Squad!” of seismic grit; mighty and able enough to rub out dangerous ring guerillas in a single pound.
I pressed play on an old track — one approximately 13 years old made back in Tampa, well before I even knew it was a town full of Trump cards. Watching a “So Fly” Wilder speak during a PBC preview promo, I just had to run it back, one week before his 7th round scaling and ultimate detonation of King Kong.
When I think about the music I made back then and what I'm capable of now, it’s a weird sort of dichotomy; I wouldn't be capable of “back then” in the right now. Not even two years ago. Wilder's Golden Boy “back then” painted a country boy's contrived back story, accompanied by a ring restraint and a pearly white smile ensconced in a steel frame designed for the NBA. He had no idea what he was capable of, but old footage reveals a hoped for golden destiny in testing waters. Today, he's an aerodynamic Shaq going Diesel after the dunk, with all the swagger of a southern rap god, gold ass grill and all. So much of what urban denizens will do in this “Game of Life” is coded in street bravado university speak, where ascension meets dissent at the poker table with a recidivistic admiration and sardonic respect. I thought Wilder's style showed an evolved maturity.
Suits Taylor made
New Aviator shade
To the place around the way
Where all the players play
And all the ladies say, “Hey”
And shake they titties
in a city we call Tampa Bay
You can't be humpin honey buns
If you ain't got honey funds
How you gone be hunky
Huntin p*ssy wit a 100 ones?
Y'all know what we hear for
Guys tell us why you fly
We stay fly
cuz ladies like guys
wit a lot of style
make em smile
and you got a dime
So Fly (So?)
So fly (so?)
so fly (ss..)
“I won't have no mercy on him. We know its coming, but we don't know when its coming. But when it do come, BoOm baby good night!”
Deontay Wilder, “So Fly” for real, all weighed-in at 219 lbs with Wild Thoughts about some things he might do to Luis Ortiz because of his superpower
Can some of you hardcore fight fans see Deontay Wilder going “Bomb Squad!” on Merciless Ray Mercer? I'm just saying. I just got around to watching Saturday night's showdown this afternoon. It was that kind of weekend. You know it's a wild time on front lawns in my neighborhood and in the eardrums of the unsuspecting when I miss the entire first half of the New England Patriots Vs Dallas Cowboys game in Foxboro, MA. Hell, I'm supposed to be there. After the Patriots win a war of attrition, I come across a story where Wilder makes the rather bold assertion that he is, “The hardest puncher in boxing history”. Sure, he'd spent six rounds getting essentially jerked around by Kong, before spilling a monster as a more apropos “One-Time”. But isn't this going too far? If he's right about this (he might be) and I'm right how charismatic he is (I think I am), then why does he not effect the PPV richter scale even remotely close to the way Mike Tyson did?
His origin story ain't sexy enough. There's no cloud of nasty hanging in the balance that conjures aura beneath the surface. Once you know someone's from a place of flawed dimension, in a way taboo that augments special ability realized, an endless fascination ensues that if delivered right — will captivate. Tyson “had it” at 13. Wilder's still sort of looking for it at 34. And can we really see him fairing well in Tyson's 80's rolling into the 90's? I'm not even going to travel into 70's, that ain't fair. Let's just go all over the place with this.
I hope you know I'm for the takin'
You know this cookie is for the baking
Kitty, kitty, baby, give that thing some rest
‘Cause you done beat it like the '68 Jets
Diamonds ain't nothing when I'm rockin' with ya
Diamonds ain't nothing when I'm shinin' with ya
Just keep it white and black as if I'm ya sister
I'm too hip to hop around town out here with ya
Rihanna, Wild Thoughts, describing a celestial talent in a stone age jag off chamber, too far behind to catch her on the chessboard of romance or life
So what to make of Wilder? His record is out of this world, yet he's mooned historically. Because Tyson Fury went Lazarus, his moment became His. He's Jack Johnson, but not as skillfull and without a Mann Act, right? He wipes the floor with the 1920's and probably the 30's too (hey, size matters), but do we really believe he pulls the pin on that overhand grenade of his and gets rid of “The Rock”? I don't think so. Larry Holmes? On paper, there's no way Wilder wants any of that sauce. The jab alone short circuits the “Bomb Squad!” But then again, Holmes was available for all of the Nyquil in his right hand. Same with Lennox Lewis. Same with Riddick Bowe. With Wilder, you wonder what happens with a grinder of stocky proportion. I think Evander Holyfield would be a nightmare. Looking at Wilder momentarily going King Kong after Ortiz goes “Ape Shit” in the 4th round, its clear that he's affecting Deontay to the body and has a wider medley of skills.
What if that's Tyson striking his rib cage with left hooks? Do we honestly think Wilder could “One-Time” Tyson? Let's take this to a more basic nuts and bolts level, considering what we haven't seen opposite a Carlos Takam or a Alexander Povetkin type due to politics and scandal. What would he look like in front of a still grimey, counter-striking defensive genius in James Toney at heavyweight? All we have is the Tyson Fury appetizer, if we're really being honest about this folks. And I'm not alone in thinking he lost that fight (including himself), but we're all of the belief in what he's capable of doing to Fury, easily.
I just can't help but wonder if he's too far behind on what would be his race on the chessboard. For all that he is, was all the earlier jerking around via promotional saga enough to circumvent all-time great consideration? An Anthony Joshua fight seemed a hormone stirring pinup on a ceiling of PPV glue. Now, that's left Wilder forced to rip down the collage in favor of whom? As Bryson Tiller might ask in a figurative sense, who's the cat out there now for the taking?