By Scoop Malinowski
The American media and boxing powers that be have been starving for a new Mike Tyson/ Muhammad Ali type heavyweight figure to burst on the sporting landscape. A new, explosive, dynamic African American heavyweight destroyer could be a mega money machine, capable of even greater profits than a loud-mouthed, classless, boring, safety-first welterweight like Floyd Mayweather.
On the surface, Wilder appears to be a superstar in the making. The 32-year-old won an Olympic bronze medal in 2008 and has a professional record of 39-0 (38 KOs).
But when you ask ten people on the street, Do you know who Deontay Wilder is, chances are nobody will identify his status as WBC Beltholder. Outside of hardcore boxing circles, Wilder is unknown. And completely irrelevant in American or global sports.
When Mike Tyson was climbing the ranks in his early pro years, his knockouts were so authentically real they made the national news clip highlight reels. Everybody who saw them gasped – and never forgot. But Wilder’s wins are all phony looking. Either the guy goes down from a punch that appeared to not land (Malik Scott) or the opponent stands there and takes Wilder’s punches like a human punching bag, without any resistance or fight back (Bermane Stiverne).
The only plausible explanation for Wilder’s lack of popularity is that the public views him as a fraud hoax, a manufactured fake by a staff of choreographers and handlers attempting to flimflam an actor on the public, one pretending to be a heavyweight kingpin.
Another problem for the Wilder team is that they have adamantly refused to allow Wilder to fight anyone not under their control. Every single Wilder opponent so far has either been a patsy controlled by Wilder’s “advisor” Al Haymon or a patsy controlled by a shell promoter – Haymon pal (or partner?) Don King has served up Eric Molina and Bermane Stiverne twice as punching bags for Wilder. (King and Wilder’s promoter Lou DiBella had dinner together the night of the recent Wilder vs Stiverne II fight.)
Another credibility cracker for Team Wilder is that when authentic top ten heavyweight challengers (not controlled by Haymon) emerged to challenge Wilder, they either conveniently tested positive for a trace of a banned substance (Luis Ortiz, Alexander Povetkin fights both cancelled), or they were outright ducked (Dillian Whyte).
So it’s clear that suspicions about Wilder’s authenticity have overshadowed hysteria about his ring record and performances.
The dreadful reign of the repulsive, disgusting Floyd Mayweather – without a doubt, the all time worst “Face of Boxing” ambassador in ring history – has apparently badly damaged the image, integrity and reputation of professional boxing in the public’s eye. Today, sports fans just don’t care about, or trust, the sport like they used to. A good friend of mine, who was an amateur boxer and owned a boxing gym for over a decade, has no interest at all in current boxing. Sickened by all the boring sparring session-like fights and corrupt decisions, he plays tennis four or five days a week.
Deontay Wilder actually could be the stimulus that could reignite boxing in America. On the surface he looks the part (though he does not speak the part or show the natural class that true champions have). Wilder does throw some mean and violent punches that can do damage. But beating up on tomato cans and patsies is not how stars are made.
To become a superstar in boxing, there’s only one path to take. And it’s a very risky, dangerous path. It’s a path that in one night can end a career and destroy all the best laid plans and schemes of the greediest of connivers and con artists. To be a star in boxing, Wilder has to fight and beat the best. That’s the only way. Wilder has to take the risk and fight Anthony Joshua.
Mere talking about fighting Joshua is a waste of time and energy. Instead of lip service, Wilder has to ACTUALLY FIGHT the clear-cut, undisputed Heavyweight Champion Joshua. And accept the risks. Dare to be great.
Everything else is just spinning wheels and smoke and mirrors. The public has spoken and they don’t care about Wilder beating up tomato cans and handpicked patsies.
The ball is in the court of Wilder and Haymon. Fight Joshua or shut up. And be content as the reigning Alabama State Champion.
(Artwork by David Banegas)