By Rich Mancuso
Deontay Wilder reminds you so much of that throw back fighter who goes about his business and does it with authority. There is no drama with the WBC heavyweight champion who will defend the title July 16th against Chris Arreola at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham Alabama.
Arreola, the 35-year old veteran, and a tough challenger who handles business differently, will be up against the hometown crowd as many from Tuscaloosa,where Wilder, got his start will root for their champion. And, Arreola, 36-4-1, with 31 KO’s will have his share of supporters as he always does.
The Los Angeles California based Arreola, with Mexican descent has a history of being tough and not easy to defeat, and there is that contrast in styles that Wilder, undefeated in 36 bouts is aware.
“One thing about Chris,” Wilder said, “People look back and how he fights. He’s never been in a boring fight. In shape or out of shape he comes to fight with heart and that’s what boxing is about. He comes to fight and for that reason we chose Chris for the next fight.”
Arreola, will make his third attempt at the title and became the short list opponent because Alexander Povetkin tested positive for an illegal drug in a fight with Wilder that was scheduled for May 21st. Fox Sports and the PBC will televise the bout in prime time and the heavyweight title will be in the spotlight.
And that is the way it used to be, boxing and the heavyweight title contested on one of the major TV networks. The heavyweight championship was always the face of boxing and the World Boxing Council, (WBC) title is the most prestigious of the many alphabet soup titles that cause an avid boxing fan to be confused.
Wilder, 30 years of age had had three defenses of his title since stopping Bermane Stivene last January by unanimous decision at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. His one goal, besides retaining the prestigious belt, is to once again unify the heavyweight championship into one premiere champion.
But boxing and because of all the politics and different affiliations, and with the complex business involved, has been trying to unify all the titles and it has not been successful. Bert Sugar, the late boxing author and historian always said about the heavyweight title picture, “Put them all in a lineup and I could not tell you who was who.”
Wilder says about the heavyweight title chaos, that was dominated over a decade by the Klitschko brothers and their titles defended mostly in Eastern Europe, “A lot of people blame the Klitschko brothers. They were inactive in the ring. I can understand they, (fans) didn’t know who the heavyweight champion of the world was. There was a long time of dryness,”
And partly because the Klitschko tandem chose their opponents, the heavyweight division became mediocre and was no longer the face of boxing. Now the sport thrives on the divisions below the heavyweights and that includes the 147- pounders of welterweights among the elite.
“A lot of people get out of boxing because they don’t know who the champion is,” Wilder said as he prepared for another day of rigorous training. He is working hard to become that champion, and tries to dispose his opponents with the knockout punch, the finish boxing fans thrive for.
He says, being the saviour of the heavyweight division is not the message. Though the knockout punch is causing skeptics to look again because Wilder makes a fight exciting.
Wilder has that throwback approach as a heavyweight champion to make a fight exciting and more importantly represents the sport the right way. There is no foul mouth of curse words, no drama outside the ring and boxing needs the positive champion to get back on top.
“Feel it’s my duty to bring it back to what it once was,” he says about the division that also has a champion in the WBA, IBF, WBO, and more. “I can only work what we have today, Boxing has a lot of of prospects who want to become champions.”
He says about Arreola, :We needed a guy that is bringing excitement for a short note Everybody talks about numbers in the rankings. I’m not big on the rankings, Think some of the guys in their 20’s can beat guys on the top.”
However,rankings are the way this sport is structured and the WBC title is the most prestigious of them all. The sanctioning organizations, the WBC being one of them, has mandatory defenses of the title and at times who gets the significant win will get the first crack at taking the elite crown.
An upcoming and surprising heavyweight, Luis Ortiz of Cuba could be on the radar for Wilder.
‘Because he has power,” says Wilder. “That would be a great fight in the near future. If he keeps winning that’s another fight I will bring to the table.” And the PBC, with various networks has the ability to also stage that bout in prime time if it comes down to that.
There is also Anthony Joshua, the 26-year old undefeated heavyweight champion, 17-0 out of the United Kingdom. He has called out Wilder and perhaps that is another fight that could be a PBC event and perhaps at the time one that will unify the title belts.
Wilder says the PBC events have brought boxing back to the exposure the sport needs.
“That’s like the back in the days like it used to be. A wonderful job putting on great shows for fans around the world to see fans favorite fighters fight. I enjoy being on PBC and all the networks.”
PBC has been in the forefront of staging fight cards back on prime time television ,and this past Saturday the CBS Sports Network welterweight title fight between the champion Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter beat out MLB baseball on Fox and other prime time programming in the ratings.
So boxing is getting the needed exposure, but Wilder the heavyweight champion with an 11-year old daughter he loves and cares for, also wants that title to be one. He hopes to be that unified champion because as he says, “That’s what makes this sport corrupted.”
In other words, once champion and that’s part of the goal of making boxing the sport where it once was.
“My goal was always to unify the division for the simple fact that I don’t want people to be confused,” he says. “Who’s who, one face, one title, one name. That’s Deontay Wilder. This is my accomplishment and my duty to change they say heavyweight champion of the world.”
Wilder says: Everybody knows one name, one belt.” The way boxing should be and that goal continues for the WBC heavyweight champion in a few weeks.