Wilder KOs Firtha
“I’m thinking early-to-mid next year [for a world title shot]. We’re trying to line it up now. At the moment I’m ranked number three by the WBC, so we’re in planning right now.”—Deontay Wilder
A game but bloodied Nicolai Firtha managed to take Deontay Wilder into the fourth round in Atlantic City tonight before he was cleanly KO’d at the 1:26 mark.
The first round featured a bull rush by the deceptively strong Firtha (21-10-1), but the Bronze Bomber kept his composure and then proceeded to deck the Akron “Stone Man” twice—once with a jab and then with a short counter right.
After taking surviving several punishing jabs and an assortment of other shots, Firtha seemed to get his legs and be in position to be the first opponent to take the long-limbed Wilder deep, but Deontay would have none of it. Getting his instructions from his savvy cornermen Mark Breland and Russ Anber, Wilder ended matters decisively in the fourth round, setting things up with a series of neat jabs, a hard left hook, a right uppercut, and then, putting the icing on the sequence, a long right then landed squarely on Nicolai’s forehead—and that was that. This was not just a single long right, but it was a shot that punctuated a series of punches demonstrating that Wilder has been improving his tool chest. The WBC Continental Americas heavyweight championship remained safely in Deontay’s hands.
As for the hysterical Barry Tompkins and Mauro Domenico Antonio Ranallo, the mute button resolved that matter but it could not erase the false smiles from professional Showtime cheerleaders Sam Watson and his annoying son. Good announcing doesn’t call attention to itself; Ranallo is constantly calling attention to himself. If there is any criticism to be leveled against Wilder, it might be that the Halloween mask he wore into the ring was simply awful. One other thing, Wilder needs to minimize the showboating; he’s really not funny enough to pull it off.
The obvious question now is who is next for Wilder? Tyson Fury is the most intriguing possibility, but I don’t see that one in the cards just yet. Rather, I see Chris Arreola, Robert Helenius, or Tony Thompson being more viable. Of course, if Vitali Klitschko retires or is stripped of his WBC heavyweight title because of his recent announcement that he plans to run for the presidency of Ukraine, Bermane Stiverne becomes a distinct and very capable possibility.