On this day after a glorious Thanksgiving, let’s fluff up my bulbous, bulging sack, make it look like a Butterball turkey, and stuff it with an extra special cranberry-flavored load of my gooey, salty truth. We have comments/questions regarding Deontay Wilder– stacked against present and past heavyweights– and the biggest surprises of 2019.
Deontay Wilder vs. History
How can the haters deny Deontay Wilder now? Bronze Bomber is for real and deserves that respect given to everyone but him it seems. The only question is where he rates in history. I got his right hand among the best heavyweight punches in history and the story is still being written on where he belongs on the all-time list, but I think he’s higher up there than the haters will ever give him credit for. Where do you place Wilder on that all-time list?
— Joe Jackson
As I wrote in my Notes from the Boxing Underground column on Monday, I was once one of those serial Wilder critics. I’ve come to terms with the reality now. The guy is no Pernell Whitaker, but he’s very good at what he does and is getting increasingly sharp at building a working, functional skill set around his best attributes. He doesn’t have to be a chess-playing boxing technician to be a great heavyweight champ and, even on his worst day, he’s just one big punch away from turning the tide against anybody.
Having said that, though, it’s hard to measure him against the greats of the past because he’s still building his legacy as a fighter in the here and now. Let him beat Fury and the winner of Ruiz-Joshua 2, maybe one other top 5-level opponent, and then we can talk about his place among the all-timers.
Realistically, if Wilder came up in other eras, he might not have even gotten to the level he’s at today. As raw as he was for most of his career, he might’ve been beaten by gatekeepers and fringe contenders in deeper days of the heavyweight division before even making it to a point where he could earn a title shot.
But that time machine matchmaking fans and media like to do is not my thing. I don’t think it’s possible to make accurate predictions of who beats who from fighters of different eras. Wilder is who he is and should be appreciated for what he does in the present tense against current day fighters.
Deontay Wilder in the Present Tense
I know you were big on picking Anthony Joshua over Deontay Wilder before. What do you have to say now? There’s no way on God’s green Earth that Joshua would be able to handle Wilder. I got Deontay knocking Joshua out inside of 6.
— Rick S.
Yeah, I’m not so sure about my prediction of Joshua over Wilder inside of four. At the time I made my pick, I had not seen the Joshua who resigned quietly and passively against Andy Ruiz or the Joshua who came into the ring jaded and bursting with entitlement. On the flip side, I had not seen the Wilder who walked through the fire to beat Ortiz or held on firmly to self-belief when being outboxed by Tyson Fury. A lot has changed since I made that Joshua over Wilder prediction.
Now, at least until I see what Joshua does in the rematch with Ruiz, I lean towards Wilder. But, taking into consideration how heavy-handed both fighters are, Wilder-Joshua could end at any moment. That’s what makes the fight so intriguing. Of course, the hard part will be actually MAKING the fight.
Biggest Surprises of 2019
We’re getting close to the End of the Year review stuff and I just wanted to toss you a softball for your mail sack. For you, what have been the biggest surprises of 2019? I’m not just talking about in the ring, but when it comes to anything related to the sport we love. Have a great Thanksgiving, brother and thanks for all the work you do in the name of the sport we love.
Honestly, nothing really surprises me anymore. Everything is so choreographed these days that “contender coming out of nowhere to shock the world” scenarios are almost impossible. Ruiz beating Joshua legitimately surprised me, but I wasn’t exactly gasping from the shock. Joshua had been looking ripe for the picking in recent fights and, as I had stated when Ruiz was first selected as Joshua’s replacement for Jarrell Miller, picking the Mexican American was a really shoddy piece of matchmaking from AJ’s people. Ruiz was going to be problematic for several reasons.
I hate to skirt around the question, but I really can’t think of anything that has surprised me all that much. I guess, me finishing another year without getting fired is pretty damn surprising, though.
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