By Alan Hubbard
Is Deontay Wilder the biggest hitter ever among world heavyweight champions?
It is a question I have been asked frequently of late. My answer is that his record (39 ko’s in 40 bouts) suggests that the Bronze Bomber is right up there with the Brown Bomber (Joe Louis, 52 ko’s in 66 bouts)) in the pantheon of punchers.
It is even arguable that the spindly-legged jawbone crusher from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, not far from where Louis was born in the same Deep South US state, is the most awesome puncher of them all.
He can put opponents to sleep quicker than a fistful of Mogadon.
All of which does not seem like good news for champion-at-large Tyson Fury, who challenges for Wilder’s WBC belt in only his third comeback fight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on December 1.
But as Fury says, ”he’ll have to catch me first.” And that certainly won’t be easy if the garrulous Gypsy Giant slips, slides and shimmies as effectively as he did to evade the renowned artillery of Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf three years back. Then he proved as elusive as Sir Percy Blakeney, aka The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Wilder by name, wilder by nature. Devastating Deontay may swing his arms like a windmill in a storm but when he connects it is Goodnight Nurse. Ask Fury’s fellow Brit Audley Harrison and a host of others he has left stricken on the canvas.
I would certainly put him high up my personal list of the biggest hitters in heavyweight history.
‘Furyhas shown he has the nous to keep out of harm’s and play the teasing matador when Wilder comes at him from the bell with those dynamite-fused fists flailing’
Among heavyweight champions these would include, in no particular order: Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Mike Tyson, Sonny Liston, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Jack Dempsey, Jack Johnson, and both Klitschko brothers,Vitali and Wladimir.
Of the modern champs Tyson (Mike that is) was probably the most feared. At his peak for the first half dozen rounds he was surely the most venomous fighter ever seen.
Both Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno could bang a bit too, as can Anthony Joshua when he is up against it. And let’s not overlook ex-WBA champ James ’Bonecrusher’ Smith, once a Bruno nemesis.
But why no Muhammad Ali? Like Larry Holmes, the Greatest was a quicksilver jabber, a slicing, snappy puncher, not a particular powerhouse. Though George Foreman might demur after that deceptive right hand sent him corkscrewing to the floor as they rumbled in the jungle.
Of the big hitters outside the world heavyweight championship Americans Earnie Shavers, Ron Lyle and Gerry Cooney were exceptionally heavy-handed, as was our own dear old ‘’Enry Cooper with his legendary left hook ‘ammer.
Ali will testify to that, though he said Shavers was the hardest puncher he had ever faced.
Shavers’ rib-cracking body shots left Ali passing blood for days and were a major contribution to the champion’s eventual demise.
Their epic clash over 15 rounds at Madison Square Garden exactly 41 years ago was the most damaging of Ali’s career outside The Thrilla in Manila..
”Earnie hit me so hard it shook my kinfolk back Afica!”, Ali said memorably afterwards.
Yet the most potent heavyweight puncher I have seen was the three-times Olympic champion Teofilo Strevenson, the Cuban I dubbed ‘Castro’s right hand man.’ Sadly that fistic thunderball was never tested against professional chins.
So Mr Wilder is in good company. Not that talk of his concussive capability fazes Fury, rightly described this week by Boxing News as ‘the most fascinating heavyweight of his generation.’
And he certainly will be engaged in a truly fascinating confrontation on December 1.
They used to say that in America visiting fighters needed to knock ‘em out to get a draw. When push comes to shove, so to speak, and the ongoing ring rhetoric from both has subsided, that may well be the situation for Fury in LA.
I hope not because he has shown he has the nous to keep out of harm’s and play the teasing matador when Wilder comes at him from the bell with those dynamite-fused fists flailing.
Fury v Wilder is live and exclusive on BT Sport Box Office, December 1st. For more info go to btsport.com/boxoffice
LAST WEEK I wrote here that a guy named Josh would be named again as Boxer of the Year at the annual British Boxing Board of Control awards dinner in London.
I was right – but I got the wrong Josh.
I had hoped, it would be Josh Warrington but surmised it would be Anthony Joshua. Instead super-lightweight Josh Taylor got the nod.
Good luck to him. But I maintain that Warrington, who actually won a world title, would have been the most worthy recipient.
Warrington’s dad Sean O’Hagan –some character – was also edged out by Frampton’s new mentor Jamie Moore as Trainer of the Year.
And Josh’s pulsating world title contest with Lee Selby was beaten at the post by that in Walsall last May between Jason Welborn and Tommy Langford.
An odd choice that, I thought. So did Dereck Chisora who stormed out of the room in pique that his own contest with Carlos Takam was overlooked.
Some curious decisions all round in my view.
Ireland’s Katie Taylor as Overseas Fighter of the Year? I am a great advocate of women’s boxing as visitors to this website will know, but did this smack somewhat of political correctness?
SADLY, ONE OF MY journalistic colleagues when I worked on The Independent, James Lawton has passed away aged 75.
We covered many big fights and Olympics together. He was a caring, gifted award-winning writer who crafted so many beautiful phrases and was passionate about sport and boxing in particular. A colossus of our game and a great companion.