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Is Deontay Wilder being developed too slowly?
Todays boxing heavyweight scene doesn't reflect well on America. Take a look at The Ring's heavyweight top ten – the only American boxers present are Eddie Chambers (36-2 18KOs) and Chris Arreola (33-2  28KOs). Chambers has a fight coming up against Tony "The Tiger" Thompson and a win would put him in position for an IBF title fight. Arreola on the other hand doesn't have much going on, and it is only a matter of time before he finds himself struck off the top ten list. The heavyweight division is a desolate place for America.

In this boxing desert we find Deontay Wilder. Since winning the National Golden Gloves, the US Championships and scoring a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Wilder has had to endure the pressure of boxing America's heavyweight expectations. The twenty-five year old from Tuscaloosa turned pro in November 2008 and since then has won eighteen out of eighteen. With a perfect record to his credit, every fight he wins piles on the pressure.

Deontay Wilder has a lot on his shoulders

Not only is there pressure, but there is a lot of impatience too. Wilder has found his name put up against ones much bigger than his, like thirty year old  top-ten fighter Chris Arreola and thirty-nine year old southpaw Tony Thompson. It isn't his promoters bringing these names to him - it is a glory hungry audience baying for either a new heavyweight hero or blood. 

Wilder hasn't taken a step up yet, and to some this is a sign of weakness; he obviously doesn't have the skills to be a top fighter, so his record is being padded by tomato cans. To others, his very gradual rise is a signal of good sense – he is a prospect who we cannot afford to ruin by forcing him into a step up. Which view is correct?

Before Wilder even turned pro he had a lot of hype around him. Like Amir Khan, Wilder came out of nowhere and won a bronze medal in the Olympics. From being a relative nobody he became a recognisable figure. then once Wilder was officially a professional his progress was tracked and his record scrutinised.

It is important to emphasise what Deontay's record means to those who rate him. He has the magic “0” at the end of his record – nobody has ever gotten the best of him. Of his eighteen fights, he also has an excellent knockout rate, all eighteen of them having ended this way. Deontay Wilder's record is what makes him seem such an exciting prospect to most. It would be interesting to see what the expectations of him would be were he to lose his next fight.

Is Deontay ready to step up in opposition?

There is an argument out there that Wilder is actually being developed too slowly – that his current skill level is fathoms above the kind of fighters he has faced. This may be true, because if you look at Wilder's contemporaries such as Tyson Fury and Robert Helenius, they have had fights of a lot more difficulty. Let's compare their last three fights:

Tyson Fury (15-0  10KOs) – Dereck Chisora, Marcel Luiz Nasciemento, Zack Page

Robert Helenius (16-0  11KOs) – Siarhei Liakhovich, Samuel Peter, Attila Levin

Deontay Wilder (18-0  18KOs) – Dominique Alexander, Damon Reed, Reggie Pena

The lists just do not compare. Robert Helenius and Tyson Fury have both fought less than Deontay Wilder, but they have faced and beaten opponents of a much, much greater quality. If Wilder is as good as we have been led to believe, then Wilder's failure to fight capable opposition is one that lies with his overbearing team.

What About Deontay Wilder's Future?

Having only fought Dominique Alexander on August 27th, Wilder is having a rest. But with his fight average being six per year, I would expect to see him in the ring in December. Hopefully, this will be against a fighter of some consequence. Some possible names:

David Price (11-0  9KOs) - The unbeaten British heavyweight who, like Wilder, won a bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics.

David Rodriguez (35-0  33KOs) – Thirty years old, also unbeaten but has also been criticised for facing a lower level of opposition

Shannon Briggs (51-6-1  45KOs) – The thirty-nine year announced recently he wants to make a comeback (read about it here). Maybe this is a fight that would suit both of them. For Briggs, he can prove his comeback credentials. Wilder could use a victory over Briggs to silence his critics. A win over a former champ could go a long way.

So, Is Deontay being developed too slow, or just right?

For an unbeaten Olympic medallist to still be fighting guys like Dominique Alexander after seventeen knockout victories in a row, there has to be something wrong. There is something in Wilder's skill level and development that his team are seeing, and it is something they do not like. If they are taking it slow to iron out a few problems then this is a sensible move. However, it all depends on how serious Wilder's problems are. If they are too big, America may have to wait a while longer for a new heavyweight hero.

What's your view on this - is Deontay's record being padded by easy wins? Or do you agree with the careful approach taken by Wilder's team?


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