Tuesday, July 19, 2016

After Another KO Win, What’s Next For Wilder?

Unbeaten WBC Heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder has continued dismantling nearly all opposition that has been placed before him. After three successful title defenses including one earlier this year over Artur Szpilka, Wilder would make the fourth defense of his world title against former world title challenger Chris Arreola on July 16th at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, AL. Arreola, who was making his third attempt to win the WBC Heavyweight crown was brought into the picture following current WBC number one contender Alexander Povetkin testing positive for the banned substance Meldonium, which led to the cancellation of what would have been a mandatory title shot against Wilder back in May.

Although some might have thought that the circumstances which led to the fight against Povetkin falling through may have had an effect on Wilder’s performance against Arreola, the champion would produce one of his best performances. For eight rounds, Wilder largely dominated Arreola with his jab and kept him at distance. Wilder scored a knockdown of Arreola in round four with a combination to the head of the challenger and was in command from start to finish.

What impressed me about Wilder’s performance in this fight in particular was how he was able to remain disciplined in his approach and did not go too aggressively for the knockout. Wilder instead controlled distance and used lateral movement to keep Arreola from being able to get on the inside and land anything effective. Seeing their fighter suffering the effects of a gradual one-sided beating that was dished out by the champion, the fight was stopped after the eighth round by Arreola’s corner to prevent the “Game” longtime contender from suffering further punishment.

For Wilder, it was his fourth successful title defense and his thirty-sixth stoppage victory in thirty-seven professional fights. In some ways, this fight was similar to a recent World Heavyweight championship fight between current undefeated International Boxing Federation (IBF) world champion Anthony Joshua and Dominic Breazeale on June 25th.

Much like Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, a knockout artist dished out significant punishment to Breazeale over six and a half rounds before knocking the previously undefeated challenger down twice to force a stoppage in the seventh round. Although Wilder was not able to get the referee to stop the fight as Joshua was able to do when he fought Breazeale, Wilder’s performance against Arreola was no less dominant as his IBF counterpart.

There are two questions that surround Deontay Wilder coming out of this fight. The first question is what will happen with regard to the World Boxing Council (WBC) and its designation of Alexander Povetkin as its current number one contender. Even though the WBC has yet to make a determination with regard to its number one ranking in the Heavyweight division as of this writing, this observer believes if Povetkin is deemed ineligible due to the failed drug test, which led to the cancellation of his title shot against Wilder that a logical solution would be to hold an elimination tournament of sorts with the second, third, fourth, and fifth rated contenders in the WBC’s Heavyweight ratings to determine a new mandatory challenger for Wilder. Two of those fighters, current WBC number two rated contender and former world champion Bermane Stiverne and number five rated contender Johann Duhaupas have both faced Wilder before and it would be interesting to see if a fight between the two could lead to a potential rematch for one of the two down the line. The number three and four rated contenders Kubrat Pulev and Joseph Parker could each pose an interesting challenge for Wilder if either of them were to emerge out of a tournament like scenario as the new number one contender.

The second question is obviously what is next for Wilder? For his part, the champion stated after his victory over Arreola that he broke his right hand as well as suffered a torn right bicep during the fight. Although it is unclear as to how severe those injuries are as of this writing, it is important to remember that Deontay Wilder has been a fighting champion since winning the WBC world title from Berman Stiverne in January of last year. It is rare to see a world champion in any division defending their title four times in a little more than a year regardless of how quick those title defenses might be in terms of how long those fights last.

Even though Boxing fans are likely looking for unification of the Heavyweight division, I believe Wilder should take time and let his injuries heal fully before planning his fifth title defense. Whomever that defense will be against is anyone’s guess, but in this observer’s eyes, if a new mandatory challenger in the WBC Heavyweight ratings has not been determined, a possible option could be a potential unification clash with IBF champion Anthony Joshua.

For a division that has lacked excitement for some time in the eyes of some, there is not a more “Exciting” scenario than for two fighters, both unbeaten, both of whom are knockout artists, each with a claim to the World Heavyweight championship being pitted against each other. It is something that would be welcomed by Boxing fans.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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