Deontay Wilder’s Vulnerabilities – This past Saturday night WBC heavyweight title holder Deontay Wilder 38-0 (37) made the fifth successful defense of his title. His opponent, Gerald Washington 18-1-1 (12) was in command of the fight and was clearly getting the better of it until Wilder froze him with a big right hand and then dropped and stopped him in the 5th round. Prior to the bout I was pretty tough on Washington and called him a novice who really didn’t belong in the ring with Wilder.
Well, before he was caught clean on his temple and stopped, Washington looked more like the champion than did the fighter who entered the ring with the title. In fact, for the first four rounds of the fight, you could make a strong case that Gerald Washington never boxed more purposeful and was controlling the fight with his reach and left jab. Wilder was totally befuddled by a fighter who was his equal in physical stature and who was fighting without trepidation as if he belonged. During those first four rounds, Washington exposed in Deontay so many things that his critics have elicited.
Although physically gifted and possessing what appears to be fight altering power in his right hand, Wilder really doesn’t have a defined style and his inability to strategize is glaring. Wilder tends to have an amateurish style and tends to get very wild, especially when he has his opponent in trouble. He’s not a boxer and I can’t say that he is an attacker either. He’s certainly not a counter-puncher and his style doesn’t measure up to being a boxer-puncher, at least in the conventional sense. In addition to that, his balance is bad and he has a tendency to freeze when he’s rattled, as we saw for the majority of the bout versus Washington.
During the entire fight Washington was able to keep Wilder under wraps with just his jab. He was beating Deontay to the punch and at the same time had him looking for an answer offensively – that he never found. That was until Washington decided to stop jabbing in the fifth round and backed off of Wilder and became an observer, thus his undoing.
Wilder can be out-boxed and fight like an amateur but his big right hand, at least up to this point in his career, has been the equalizer. Luckily, for some reason in the fifth round Washington began to step away from Wilder as opposed to stepping toward him as he’d been doing during a majority of the fight. Without the threat of a serious jab coming at him, Wilder became bold and cut loose with a right hand that dropped Washington. When they resumed fighting, Wilder flailed away and, to quote Muhammad Ali, Deontay looked like the “Washer Woman” as he tried to finish Washington. After a few glancing blows the referee stepped in and prematurely stopped the fight. But in all fairness there’s no way Washington would’ve survived the round with more than a minute and a half remaining in it.
Yes, Deontay Wilder won and did so by stoppage. But he was being totally out-boxed by a fighter who lacked experience and whose jab could best be described as pawing. Even without the threat of a right hand behind it, Wilder was behind in the fight. Had Washington continued to do what he was doing when he was winning the bout, inching forward with subtle head movement behind his jab – who knows, maybe Wilder loses on points. But Washington gave him the space and confidence to get off and once again the right hand saved the day for Wilder.
Deontay Wilder’s Vulnerabilities
Deontay Wilder has no defined boxing style. Other than looking to uncork the right hand, there’s not much to his style. He has bad foot work and often over-reaches for his opponent. This leaves him open, but as of yet it hasn’t cost him. However, a fighter the likes of say IBF title holder Anthony Joshua, who is disciplined and punches with great form and balance, would probably be his undoing.
On the under card of Wilder-Washington, former Joshua challenger Dominic Breazeale stopped undefeated Izu Ugonoh. Breazeale 18-1 (16) didn’t show up in great shape and was dropped in the fourth round, but summoned great reserve and heart to come back and stop Ugonoh in the next round. Breazeale took a pounding from Joshua last June but finished on his feet. Now, due to a lobby altercation after they both fought, Dominic is being mentioned as Wilder’s next opponent. And you know what – Wilder should try to avoid that fight because if Breazeale is in shape, Wilder is certainly not a lock to come out on top.
Actually, Wilder needs to fight Joshua, preferably the day after Joshua fights Wladimir Klitschko. Seriously, it’s not a moment too soon. A fight between Joshua and Wilder with three title belts on the line would be Fort Knox financially, especially if both are undefeated and it takes place in the UK. Joshua and Wilder are both former Olympians and the two most talked-about heavyweights in the world. In 56 fights between them, 57 if you count Joshua stopping Klitschko in April, which I believe will happen, they have 56 knockouts between them. Add to that them being from opposite sides of the pond and a fight between them would be the most anticipated heavyweight title bout since Lennox Lewis of the UK fought Mike Tyson of the US back in 2002.
Moreover, Joshua vs. Wilder has to happen soon. If I’m managing Wilder, I fear he could lose before he gets to the super-fight with Joshua and blow the monumental payday. Conversely, if I’m managing Joshua, I want him to fight Wilder while he’s still undefeated…..because based on what Wilder showed against Gerald Washington and others, Deontay could be no more than a couple punches away from losing to anyone he chooses to fight.
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Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com