The WBC heavyweight champ has come in for some flack lately for caliber of opposition
35-0 and counting
Deontay Wilder has faced some criticism over the level of opponents he has faced on route to his unbeaten 35-0 record thus far. The Alabama native has stopped 34 of these fights within the distance but he is still struggling to get the credit as WBC World title holder.
It is true that he has yet to face the world’s elite and, where he is at in his career, he really should have done, but the competition has become tougher in his last few outings.
He became the first man to stop an insanely durable Johann Duhaupas in September, but had Duhaupas had the power to match Wilder then it would have been one hell of a close call. Wilder was hit hard and relatively often in their contest before the 11th round referee stoppage. A real big puncher would have moved ‘The Bronze Bomber’ more, and that would have made things interesting.
The stoppage over Eric Molina didn’t tell us a great deal. However, we did get to see Wilder’s toughness against the hard-hitting Bermane Stiverne at the start of the year. That was the fight that won him his first world title and was his most telling one to date.
Keeping his eyes on the prize
Wilder now believes he is in with a shot at the champ, Wladimir Klitschko. Of course every heavyweight wants that payday, but with a world title around his waist, Wilder has as good a shout as anyone. Tyson Fury is in next as they have been rescheduled for November 28th, although the Ukraine pugilist comes in at 1/4 at the time of writing with 32Red.com. Most pundits and fans expect him to leave the ring draped in as much silverware as he carried into it, although Fury does have a minority of vocal supporters.
The odds from 32Red, 10bet and others indicate Klitschko’s dominance over the years – as well as Fury’s relative inexperience – and most expect him to cruise to victory over the brash Englishman. Should he do that, there won’t be many viable options left for him before he hangs up his gloves. Wilder can stake his claim as one of the only ones left.
Can Jennings test him?
First, though, he’ll need to stay busy and he’ll need to pick up a high level scalp to justify that in the meantime. It looks increasingly likely (according to recent boxing reports) that Bryant Jennings will be the man to test him. Jennings is 19-1, with his only defeat to Klitschko last time out, but he has not been gifted fights or an easy run. He impressed the critics who had him down as a lamb to the slaughter against Klitschko after pushing the champ for the full 12 rounds.
While Wilder’s 35-0 might look more impressive than Jennings’ 19-1 on paper, realistically there isn’t much between the two in terms of skillsets, and only Jennings can say he has really operated at the highest level. Wilder wants to be there, and if he could dispatch his fellow American impressively then there would be no way a huge heavyweight title showdown could then be avoided.
Like Duhaupas, Jennings is extremely tough. He took the Ukrainian’s best and kept moving forward. Right now it seems like the most suitable fight to make if Wilder wants to keep the momentum going instead of waiting on the sidelines for Wlad to become available.
(Image credit: Ring Magazine online)
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