Is Deontay Wilder Destiny’s Child?

By Teron Briggs on January 15, 2015
Is Deontay Wilder Destiny’s Child?
“What God has for me is a different plan than what Michael Grant had going for himself.”

The names on Wilder’s record are guys so nondescript they probably had to wear nametags to their family reunions to be recognized…

“I know how to deal with it (pressure). When the kitchen gets hot I can take the heat,” America’s last “next great heavyweight,” Michael Grant, insisted to the throng of assembled media that gathered to listen to the hulking giant speak with Terrell Owen-like confidence ahead of his title challenge against then undisputed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis in April of 2000. In that highly anticipated fight, Grant was knocked down four times in two savagely brutal rounds that saw him melt like processed cheese on an oven range before being mercifully counted out by the referee as he valiantly but unsuccessfully attempted to peel himself off the canvas underneath the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.

Fast-forward 15 years and replace Grant with the man who could be his a-alike, undefeated Tuscaloosa, Alabama heavyweight slugging sensation Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (32-0, 32 KOs), and another promising young star could be in for a fistic rude awakening. In Lewis’ place is the plumper and considerably less talented WBC titleholder Bermane “B. Ware” Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KOs) who will make the second defense of the belt he won by unanimous decision over another former next great heavyweight, perennial runner-up Chris Arreola (35-4, 31 KOs) in April of 2013. The Showtime Network is so enamored with the 12-round title matchup it has placed the fight in a marquee slot on its “Free Preview Weekend.” The promoters of the bout, Golden Boy and Don King, have titled it “Return to Glory,” trumpeting it as a throwback fight reminiscent of the legendary heavyweight battles that took place way back when President Richard Nixon was breaking into office buildings.

“What God has for me is a whole different plan than what Michael Grant had going for himself. I don’t care what he’s done. I’m on a different path,” Wilder adamantly insisted to the press on a recent conference call after being compared to the man Lewis bludgeoned out of contention. As much as the 29-year-old Wilder would like to distance himself from the former title challenger the similarities between the two make that near impossible. Both stand as tall as NBA small forwards, 6’7”, and at one point in their lives, due to their freakish athletic abilities, harbored aspirations of playing professional football before being sidetracked. The most common thread is each entered boxing at a late age, roughly 20, without receiving any formal training during their adolescence. Wilder compiled the more distinguished amateur career, reaching a climax when as a long shot he captured the bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Grant foolishly believed that he was equipped to win the heavyweight title because he had beaten some fringe contenders and twice pulled himself off the canvas to stop the formidable and at the time still sane Andrew Golota. Wilder’s brashness is derived from the fact that he’s knocked out all 32 of the fighters who’ve stepped into the ring with him, though some were so hapless they appeared to fall down at the mere sight of the fearsome former high school wide receiver. When you make bold statements like, “once I knock this guy (Stiverne) out it will be on to the next guy for me. He will definitely go down, I’m going to hurt him bad,” you will garner headlines but do we have any reason to believe Wilder is capable of backing up his tough talk?

In 32 professional fights Wilder has boxed a total of 58 rounds and in my very rough estimation been hit about three times, two of which were jabs. Only twice has he fought more than three rounds in a fight and he’s yet to even hear the bell ring to start the fifth round. The names on his record are guys so nondescript they probably had to wear nametags to their family reunions to be recognized. In what was supposed to be the toughest test of his career, Wilder huffed and puffed and blew down veteran Malik Scott (37-2-1 13 KOs) in 96 seconds in March of last year. Scott spent more time defending himself against accusations he took a dive against the man who formerly employed him as a sparring partner than he did mixing it up with him in the ring. For all the criticism that Wilder has received due to the woeful competition he’s faced, one thing you can’t accuse him of is much like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey—he’s never pulled his punches. The Bronze Bomber has flattened his opponents with an array of different vicious shots made capable by the tremendous power he has in both hands, especially his right. One of his many highlight reel knockouts came courtesy of a short murderous overhand right that dropped the former titleholder Siarhei Liakhovich flat on his back, leaving him twitching on the ring mat while doing the stanky leg. The Olympic gold medal winner has displayed some flaws in the ring: admiring his shots too long after unleashing them, recklessly throwing big punches and abandoning his jab in favor of those power shots. None of the opponents he’s faced thus far in his career have been talented enough to exploit them, until now.

Bermane Stiverne apparently trained at the Derek Jeter School for media relations, which emphasizes giving the press as many innocuous quotes as possible while simultaneously maintaining a Keanu Reeves like demeanor throughout interviews. “I don’t feel any emotions towards Deontay Wilder. The most important thing for me to do is to defend my title,” the first ever heavyweight champion from Haiti recently stated. What Bermane has that Wilder doesn’t is credible names on his record, and competent victories. In June of 2011, he scored a tenth round knockout against veteran trial horse Ray Austin to earn a mandatory shot at the vacant WBC belt (Vitali Klitschko retired as champion) against the once highly touted Chris Arreola. Stiverne, who didn’t start boxing until the age of 19, outboxed the more experienced Mexican heavyweight, schooling him over 12 lopsided rounds, and even flooring the favorite for the first time in Arreola’s career. Almost a year later, in May of 2014 the two met for an anticipated rematch where Stiverne earned an even more dominant victory by knocking out the Los Angeles native in six rounds in his hometown. Despite having five less fights than Wilder, B. Ware has almost 30 more rounds of professional experience. Stiverne’s only career loss was suffered in 2007 to the durable but extremely limited Demetrice King (15-20, 13 KOs) when he was controversially stopped on his feet in the fourth round.  The 36-year-old Stiverne has fought just five times in the last six years because he’s promoted by the still loquacious but partially retired Don King. The controversial promoter stole some of the spotlight from Wilder by promising that if Stiverne defeated Wilder’s challenge he would next match him with the 50-year-old legendary former champion Mike Tyson. Lost was the top rated show on television and Beyoncé was just the really cute girl in Destiny’s Child when Tyson last stepped into the ring.

Whether this attractive looking heavyweight contest will result in a good fight is anyone’s guess, but based on their respective knockout percentages: 100% for Wilder and 85% for Stiverne, this isn’t going 12 rounds.

Follow Teron Briggs on Twitter@TeronBriggs

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Deontay Wilder vs. Malik Scott - 1st Round KO - SHOWTIME Boxing

Bermane Stiverne vs Chris Arreola 2 Full fight 10 05 2014

Deontay Wilder vs Sergei Liakhovich [Full Fight]

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  1. Jack 07:20am, 01/17/2015

    FrankinDallas you are on the money, there is going to be a lot of “crow” to be eaten later tonight. I have been saying that Wilder gets beaten by the first opponent that can “fight a little”, tonight is the night!!!! I will glady show up and eat my portion if we are wrong. Enjoy from Las Vegas.

  2. Eric 10:12am, 01/16/2015

    So this fight has the potential to rank up there with the Ali-Frazier trilogy, the Rumble In The Jungle, Foreman-Lyle, Lyle-Shavers, etc. Sounds like quite a stretch. If Wilder wins, maybe we’ll get to see the real champion, Wlad, starch his old former partner in something billed as a “unification match for the undisputed heavyweight championship.” That would be reminiscent of another heavyweight clash from the Nixon era, Ali vs. his former sparring partner, Jimmy Ellis.

  3. FrankinDallas 10:08am, 01/16/2015

    The “Haitian Hurricane” will destroy the “Tuscaloosa Tin Man”
    within 6 rounds.

  4. Matt McGrain 08:59am, 01/16/2015

    I enjoyed Teron’s take, as always, but there’s a lot of excitement about a fight that is between a genuine contender (Stiverne) and an unranked puncher (Wilder) who has generated an eliminator by virtue of the fact that he is a promising American.  I acknowledge that there might be fireworks, but that’s true of any number of fights.
    Of course, for many, this is NOT an eliminator but for the “world title”.  Just a reminder that the “title” they are fighting for is about as ludicrous as they come and that the way their rankings are devised are basically meaningless.  Bryant Jennings for example, leapfrogged his way up the WBC rankings from #37 in August 2013 to #3 in October. Without fighting.  Without having a fight.  He gained 34 spots without doing boxing. Wilder meanwhile has stormed up to the #1 spot beating atrocious competition.  WBC have been determined that an American would fight for its title because that is where the money is.
    This fight is attractive, but has come about due to corruption at the highest level, and I think that’s worth keeping in mind.

  5. Mohummad Humza Elahi 08:35am, 01/16/2015

    Eric - If it’s a choice between that and being completely separated from your senses like Liakhovich, I know what most boxers would probably do.  Let’s just hope for a good fight, I just can’t see anything other than a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ encounter.  And it could be either guy.

  6. Eric 08:25am, 01/16/2015

    Deontay Wilder has such freakish power that he knocked out Malik Scott with a shot to his forearms.

  7. Mohummad Humza Elahi 01:49am, 01/16/2015

    I say it doesn’t go past 5, someone is gonna be carried out the ring and I don’t think it’s going to be Wilder.  I’m not sure anyone else apart from Wlad will be able to put him to the test, he’s just a freakish puncher.

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