The Big Question: Is Deontay Wilder the fourth best heavyweight in the world?

Boxing Monthly
25/08/2015 10:40am

Is Deontay Wilder the fourth best heavyweight in the world? With his reluctance to face serious challengers since outpointing a far smaller Bermane Stiverne - where does WBC champion Wilder rank among boxing's giants? Should we consider Klitschko, Povetkin and possibly Fury as superior big men? Wilder's struggle with the lightly-regarded Eric Molina and another ‘gimme’ defence against unknown Frenchman Johann Duhaupas suggest the charismatic Wilder may be more hype than hope....

At present the heavyweight division is Wladimir Klitschko....and the field. Povetkin is clearly the top contender - followed by a stew of Wilder, Fury, Jennings and Pulev - then an uncooked broth of prospects like Glazkov, Joshua, Parker, Teper, Briedis, Browne, Martin, Breazeale, Washington, etc. 

After his victory over Stiverne, I put Wilder No.3 on my heavyweight rankings behind the champion and Povetkin, but sadly it appears the American has fallen into the Al Haymon abyss ever since.  Should Fury perform well against Klitschko, he may usurp Wilder in the rankings.  In terms of quality of opposition and consistency, Fury has clearly done more and an argument could be made that he ranks higher already. – Michael Montero.

If Deontay Wilder was staying busy and visible by fighting opponents of Duhaupas’ calibre in-between title defences, I actually think it would be a good thing. Fans whose only real exposure to boxing comes from watching highlight reel knockouts in seven second Vine clips would love seeing Wilder do his thing on PBC Saturday afternoon shows and he could quickly build a sizeable fanbase. The problem is that we are being asked to accept fighters like Eric Molina and Johann Duhaupas as legitimate challengers for the famous green and gold WBC heavyweight title belt. They clearly aren’t.

Wilder may have been manoeuvred expertly into title contention but the lack of competition he encountered during his rise is now hurting him. Ideally, he would be racking up title defences against mid-level fighters but his handlers find themselves in a difficult position where they daren’t pitch Wilder into a fight with somebody like Chris Arreola for fear he may lose and send America searching for another heavyweight to compete on the world stage.

If the WBC stand firm and insist the fight with Alexander Povetkin must happen following the Duhaupas fight, Wilder’s reign could well prove to be short one.  I’d rank him as the fifth best heavyweight on the planet behind Klitschko, Povetkin, Tyson Fury and Kubrat Pulev. – John Evans.

It's a sad indictment of the heavyweight division that the WBC champion is not in the top three heavyweights in the world. But in Deontay Wilder's case it's true.

He impressed against Stiverne, his most difficult pro test which he passed with flying colours but defences against Eric Molina and now Johann Duhaupas have been met with rightful derision. I fully understood the homecoming defence but if Wilder had any aspirations about making the boxing public believe that he was the heir to Klitschko's throne then they vanished after the Molina performance. Now he's having another defence in Alabama which is fast becoming a safety net environment to box in. 

Could you really make Wilder a long odds favourite or even the favourite against Povetkin or Fury? There's a convincing argument for ‘no’. I personally believe that Kubrat Pulev has the beating of the American, too.

He's captured the belt, enjoying his moment in the sun and hopefully learning on the job at the same time. These soft defences are hardening his bank balance but what are they doing for his career development? But as long as Wilder believes in ‘Uncle Al’ it's okay, isn't it? Povetkin should follow Duhaupas then it may well be Joshua or a unification.

Wlad is king, Povetkin slots in at second spot with Fury and Pulev following behind. The WBC champion is the fifth best heavyweight in the world. - Shaun Brown.

No, I think 5th best is about right. I would pick Klitschko, Povetkin, Fury and Pulev to beat him with some ease. Bar the win over (a possibly hindered) Stiverne for the belt, Wilder has barely boxed above cab driver (or in Molina's case, school teacher) level. While Wilder was impressive in beating Stiverne he was lacklustre against Molina and was hurt at least once in that fight. His next fight against Johann Duhaupas is a slight step up from Molina but is still not a fight acceptable from a ‘world champion’, unless he was a mandatory. Wilder can punch so I think he'll still win this fight but the clock is ticking on his title reign and, when it ends, it will do spectacularly. - Callum Rudge.

It’s difficult to say because he’s not really been tested. Stiverne was his most capable opponent, and Wilder handled him quite easily. In that fight, he also answered questions about doing 12 rounds, using his jab, and being able to take a shot. But Stiverne is not an A-list heavyweight, so who’s to say how Wilder will get on with the top talent in the division.

Part of the problem is traceable to Wilder being part of Al Haymon’s assumed PBC world domination plan, and his perceived reluctance to do business with anybody other than himself. Haymon may prefer an eventual PBC belt, but he’ll know that Wilder’s WBC strap does have value, and won’t rush his man into anything too risky while the PBC develops.

Back to boxing. How good is Wilder? He’s big, and seems to have the power to stop heavyweights with single shots, which is enough to be a threat to anybody in a lacklustre division where Wlad Klitschko is the only elite fighter. Does Wilder stopping Audley Harrison faster than David Haye count for anything? No. So we’ll just have to be patient with the WBC champion, and likely revisit this in 8-12 months time. – Martin Chesnutt, TKO Radio.

I have no problem with Wilder being ranked second behind Klitschko. Let's be honest, it's currently ‘Klitschko and everyone else’, but Wilder is heir apparent as it stands, with Povetkin and Fury close behind.

For those who are full of criticism, Riddick Bowe was allowed two sub-standard defences before his first proper defence against Holyfield and, as long as it is ONLY the two, I think it's good for American heavyweight boxing, good for Deontay, good for Alabama. He's active, and I like active fighters (plus, when you fight more than twice a year, you are allowed a couple of ‘gimme’ defences because you are still facing decent challengers as often as some inactive champions). – Colin Harris.

For now, I'm still comfortable calling Deontay Wilder the second best heavyweight in the world. That being said, his stock and popularity are rapidly falling.

The longer he refuses to test the legitimate challengers in front of him, the less interest people will have in seeing him fight. It's too soon to write him off at this point and the win over Bermane Stiverne was still impressive. – Shawn W. Smith.

Deontay Wilder has the power, charisma and, most importantly, the nationality to bring some glamour back to the heavyweight division. Wilder's legitimacy as a top heavyweight had always been questioned since he turned pro. Having faced wealth of low-level opposition, the 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist appeared to show he may he a genuine force with an impressive win over Bermane Stiverne to claim the WBC heavyweight title.

A lacklustre performance against Eric Molina - who had no right to be fighting for a version of a world title - once again cast doubts over the Alabama native. Defences against Molina and Duhaupas appear to show his handlers have doubts over his ability to beat a 'live' opponent.

Despite holding the WBC belt, I would rank Klitschko, Povetkin, Fury and Pulev above him. – John A. McDonald.

Photo credit: Heather Durham.