It Ain’t Over…..’Til Wilder Swings

In the waning seconds of the seventh round of last Saturday’s heavyweight championship bout, an unlikely scenario began to unfold. The current WBC champ, Deontay Wilder was being repeatedly forced back to the ropes by Luis Ortiz while being hit flush with damaging lead and counterpunches. Desperation sunk in as Wilder covered up and flailed along the ropes. Although the champ was able to deflect some incoming punches, others carried a heavier burden.

Despite absorbing a vicious beating, Wilder, wobbly, managed to stay on his feet. For the first time in his career, Wilder appeared exhausted and beaten in the midst of his own power outage; within mere seconds, the heavyweight belt was about to change hands.

And then the reprieve.

Referee David Fields did not stop the onslaught, and Wilder weathered the storm to score a vicious knockout in the tenth round.

And what a startling knockout it was.

As Wilder unleashed a vicious uppercut that left Ortiz crumpled on the canvas to close out the bout, he was accomplishing something that we may not see again in a long time. Let me clarify. It was not the knockout that was so shocking, but the place where Wilder was prior to scoring that monstrous KO.

Rewind to the beginning of the fight.

Great fighters can wrestle with difficult moments throughout championship bouts. Few, however, lose the first four rounds, nearly get knocked out in the seventh, and then (behind on all credible scorecards) return to knockout his opponent. Those types of things don’t happen because fighters are not built in the Wilder mode, which is an incendiary blend of power and will. Arturo Gatti, who is still missed to this day, had this similar mindset when he miraculously knocked out Wilson Rodriguez in 1996. Judging by Wilder’s dispirited approach during five of the first seven rounds, it was hard to imagine a realistic scenario other than landing one big shot where he would overcome Ortiz.

By lodging himself in this untenable position, Wilder left himself in desperation mode. What separates him from other fighters trapped in a similar position is that he has the power to overcome any obstacle. Not just a formidable obstacle, but any obstacle. And as impressive, composed, and confident as Ortiz appeared late in the fight, there was always an undercurrent of concern. That same fear is instilled within any Wilder opponent. Even though Anthony Joshua has talent for days and is blessed with more skills than Wilder, he also must be aware. Chances are he won’t see the dormant Wilder who holes up for four rounds only to emerge in pockets in the fight, so he must always be ready. As Wilder proved last Saturday, he always has something left, even when it appears that the show has all but ended.

One Comment

  1. Chris, what an awesome way to use your platform. Let me know if there’s ever anything I can do to help.
    -Matt Silver

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