Four Jabs of Born to be Wilder

By Gordon Marino on June 12, 2015
Four Jabs of Born to be Wilder
“I don’t really feel like a champion yet. I still feel hungry. I still feel like a contender.”

Those four flavors of jabs and Wilder’s mighty right hand are sure to test the intestinal fortitude of Eric Molina tomorrow night…

On the eve of the Mayweather Pacquiao fight, I cornered WBC heavyweight king Deontay Wilder just outside the MGM Grand.

“Born to be Wilder” was clad in dark glasses and a few pounds of bling.  Wilder has noted that he is often mistaken for LeBron James and I could see why. There is the size and physical resemblance but he also carries himself in public, or at least in Vegas, like an NBA all-star.

After we settled in, I jabbed him, “Is the title going to your head? You seem a little different than the guy I interviewed at the 2008 Olympics.” Wilder smiled broadly and said, “No way. Honestly, I don’t really feel like a champion yet. I still feel hungry. I still feel like a contender.”

Wilder went on to talk about how thrilled he was to be bringing boxing to Alabama, the native state of Joe Louis, Evander Holyfield, and many other ring greats who never plied their craft in that part of Dixie.

Wilder lives and trains in Alabama and visits gyms across his home state. He effused, “There are more kids coming to the gyms now and new gyms opening up.”  In other words, thanks to Deontay, the football crazed Crimson Tide fans are catching boxing fever—even within his own family. Wilder’s younger brother, who was a gridiron star in college and played Arena football, is now training with Deontay for his first amateur contest.

As is widely known, Wilder sparred almost 60 rounds with Wladimir Klitschko. Commenting on Dr. Steelhammer’s tussle with Bryant Jennings, Wilder said, “In Klitschko’s fight against Jennings, I could see that he is getting older, slowing down a bit.” Wilder emphasized that his main goal is to unify the title. He intends to get two or three more fights under his belt, and then comes the title unification showdown The first of those warm-ups will come tomorrow when Wilder squares off in Birmingham with the much-less-than-menacing Eric Molina.

After praising Wilder for his performance against Bermane Stiverne, I mentioned that he seemed to fall off balance when he threw three- and four-punch combinations.  Are you working on that? I pressed. Taking a smidgeon of umbrage, Wilder snapped back, “Combinations are not a problem. We are working on everything.”

“Come on,” I persisted. “Can you be more specific?” Wilder scooched around in his chair and repeated, “I’m working on everything.” But then he gave me an opening and hinted that as always he is paying special attention to his very rapier jab. The big man boasted, “I have four different jabs.”

Just then, a scrum of reporters came along and my follow-up was blocked. A few weeks later I called Deontay’s boxing Buddha of a trainer, Mark Breland. 

Always calm and generous with his time, Breland chuckled about the balance and combination issue. As for the four jabs? Breland said, “One is a hard stabbing jab that we like to move up and down. Another is a slapping jab that we use when a guy is moving away from the right and we just want to cuff him and move him back. Then there is the up jab, which comes from down low, from the waist with a stiff arm. Then there is a jab that Duran used a lot. With this one you are sliding left and maybe dipping down a little and you shoot your jab across and to the right of your opponent.”

Those four flavors of jabs and Wilder’s mighty right hand are sure to test the intestinal fortitude of Eric Molina tomorrow night. 

A professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College, Gordon Marino writes on boxing for the Wall Street Journal. He is on the board and works with boxers at the Circle of Discipline in Minneapolis, as well as at the Basement Gym in Northfield, MN. His The Quotable Kierkegaard was recently published by Princeton University Press. You can follow him on Twitter at @GordonMarino.

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  1. Darrell 10:00pm, 06/13/2015

    Parker was matched with, and stopped, Nascimento who was not that long off giving Tyson Fury a very rugged encounter.  He & Joshua are just into, or around, double figures in fights fought.  Their time will come.

  2. Kid Blast 08:39pm, 06/13/2015

    Irish, yes indeed. They would bring the water to us during timeouts and we would slurp it down

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 04:09pm, 06/13/2015

    Kid Blast- I believe I read that you played football in college….for sure in high school…..straight question….. do you remember that in “them days” there was a water bucket on the sidelines with a ladle…..I do.

  4. Kid Blast 02:27pm, 06/13/2015

    Well said Irish. I am really getting sick of it.  That’s why I enjoy the Stern Euros and Japanese. They face tough opposition fast and hit the road running. None of this horsecrap like fighting a Molina. Ugh

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:07am, 06/13/2015

    No more scam ass set ups for this guy, Joshua, or Parker….what a fukin’ “sport” where these “warriors"get to pick and choose whichever cab driver, bus boy, hair dresser, or transgender pizza delivery guy they want to mug next…..they are nothing more than glorified KO Gamers…..and the boxing public all said…..ooooh goody!?

  6. Kid Blast 04:53am, 06/13/2015

    CG, Yes he was. A very strange and violent ending to a very strange and violent life, but he could fight.

  7. Clarence George 08:11pm, 06/12/2015

    Eric:  I knew that Christopher Lee had, but not Dusty Rhodes.  RIP both.

    KB:  Wasn’t Hughes yet another murdered boxer?

  8. Kid Blast 04:06pm, 06/12/2015

    James the Outlaw Hughes was an Alabaman I believe.

  9. Eric 01:20pm, 06/12/2015

    Clarence… Did ya hear that Dusty Rhodes passed away yesterday? RIP The American Dream.

  10. Clarence George 12:42pm, 06/12/2015

    Izzy Jannazzo, another native Alabaman worthy of mention.

  11. Kid Blast 11:46am, 06/12/2015

    Thanks Tache

  12. The Tache 10:14am, 06/12/2015

    That would seem to just about sum the whole thing up.

  13. Kid Blast 09:50am, 06/12/2015

    This should be a first round KO. A slaughter. The first big right should end matters.

    Molina has no business in that ring. There are 15 guys who deserve to be in there instead. This kind of garbage to please the hometown sadists is not good for boxing.

    That is all.

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