There is no greater checkmate in boxing than Deontay Wilder’s right hand, a weapon that is cocked and ready in the first minute of a fight and in the last.
Its latest victim, Dominic Breazeale last Saturday night, was the most ferociously dispatched by a punch so powerful that it sent shockwaves down the east coast of the United States to where Anthony Joshua’s preparations are concluding for his own heavyweight title defence.
It was a punch that would have grabbed Joshua’s attention. It was a punch that will inspire Joshua to respond just as spectacularly when he faces Andy Ruiz Jr on June 1, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
There is something so visceral about watching Wilder in the split-second before he unravels the knockout shot that has become his trademark. Whether dominating a fight or struggling on the scorecards, that right hand is flung with total reckless abandon. It has been mocked for its lack of finesse. It also means 40 out of his 42 fights have ended early – 20 have been won inside one round. That’s no laughing matter.
Flattening Breazeale was the most explosive knockout in the long list of flattened men that Wilder leaves behind.
He hurt his challenger and, in the manner that we now expect, forgot he was in a sporting environment and thought he was outside The Dog And Duck.
It was violent and it was thrilling, and now several days on everybody is still debating the outcome of Joshua vs Wilder.
A couple of attempts at landing the big right hand touched nothing but thin air before Wilder landed anything. Has this man never considered a feeling-out process? Apparently not. Then Wilder stung Breazeale, then somehow got hurt himself in the ensuing melee. Wilder recovered quicker, landed an overhand right with the velocity of Jofra Archer bowling line and length, and that’s all she wrote.
Breazeale was criticised for his generous defence but are Wilder’s opponents sometimes frozen by fear, hurt briefly then left worrying about the consequence of getting hit harder?
Perhaps it is worth noting that Wilder was a bit heavier against Breazeale than he was in his previous fight, the draw with Tyson Fury. He has always been a ‘small’ heavyweight but the extra 11lbs might be a more optimum physique for him.
It is definitely worth noting that Wilder’s right hand, the one that inflicts 99 per cent of his damage, has been patched up and rebuilt after serious injury. It was broken during a fight with Chris Arreola three years ago – Wilder was forced to stop punching with it and use only his less threatening left hand. He tore biceps in the right arm during the same fight, and after fighting Fury last December, claimed he had re-injured the same arm during the build-up.