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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: THE END OF A WILD(ER) RIDE

By Paul Magno | June 03, 2024
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: THE END OF A WILD(ER) RIDE

There was the pipe dream leading into Saturday’s Deontay Wilder-Zhilei Zhang bout in Saudi Arabia that Wilder would “find” the fire he was lacking in his tepid, docile decision loss to Joseph Parker back in December. If “The Bronze Bomber” got his competitive edge back, it would open the door to a long-delayed blockbuster with Anthony Joshua and maybe even one more shot at a world title.

But even those of us who thought it MIGHT happen, were fully aware that the entirety of boxing history tells us it wasn’t likely.

Once a fighter “loses” the fire, once sane doubt starts to creep into their conscious and/or subconscious, once they’ve been through enough war to exact a true toll on their body (Wilder’s two brutal losses to Tyson Fury weighed heavily on his boxing body and soul), all is lost-- and I struggle to recall a time when a “finished” fighter ever willed himself into being “not finished.”

It didn’t take long for savvy observers to see that Wilder wasn’t going to be WILDER on Saturday. Once that realization set in, we were just waiting on “how” and “when” the end would come.

That “how” and “when” came in the fifth round when a lead right hand from Zhang clipped Wilder, buzzed him, spun him around, and created the opportunity for one more big right hand that dropped him and effectively closed the show. Although Wilder would beat the count, he was clearly in no condition to continue. Referee Kieran McCann did the right (and merciful) thing by waving off the contest.

Although this should be the end of Deontay Wilder’s ring career, this IS boxing. This is a sport where a nearly 60-year-old Mike Tyson just had to pull out of a “real” fight with novice boxer/YouTuber Jake Paul because of an old man gastric issue.

I certainly hope sanity prevails in this case and that Wilder lets himself drift off into the sunset.  Like every other fighter who’s gone anywhere in the sport, he deserves peace of mind, good health, and clarity of purpose in the next phase of life.

The fans also deserve some closure on a fighter’s career and the reasonable transition from yesterday’s players to today’s stars.

But, again, this is boxing and there are always some shit-heads burning with weirdo agendas and raging stupidity-- usually lurking far outside the ring-- who feel compelled to live out their personal issues in public.

So, following Wilder’s loss, we’ve had to deal with partisan gloating and supposed fans tap dancing on the figurative grave of a man far more accomplished than them. At least these shit-heads are honest in their shit-headedness, though.

The less bearable part of post-Wilder, however, has come from certain members of media and fringe media who ripped Deontay mercilessly throughout the majority of his career, discredited him, sought to make him a punchline and a laughingstock, but are now “honoring” him for a “remarkable career.”

Don’t ever doubt that there is a racial/social component to much of this shitty behavior (as has been evidenced throughout the history of this sport, where people seem to be fine with black fighters until those black fighters become challenging in some way, buck the system in some way, and move away from being simple, brawling brutes).

These same cretins giving “respect” to Wilder now, only started finding that respect when they thought he was no longer "with" black-owned PBC. And that “respect” has gone full-bloom now that he’s been undeniably humbled. In certain quarters of media and fandom and when it comes to certain types of fighters, being “humbled” is a prerequisite for adulation and recognition. These people only love certain fighters when they’ve been humbled, when they’re no longer a threat to whatever weirdo shit is being threatened inside their psyches. That's why these same people hate Floyd Mayweather forever. He never gave them that privilege of seeing him humbled.

But I digress.

If you didn’t have respect for Deontay Wilder all throughout his boxing career, then you were clearly riding some sort of agenda-- and you missed out on a wildly entertaining chunk of modern boxing history.

In Wilder, we have a man who gambled on a life in the cruelest of all sports in order to better provide for his disabled daughter. And despite a late, late start in the sport (he began training at 20 years of age), he won a National Golden Gloves title in just his 16th amateur fight, he won the U.S. Olympic trials in just his 21st amateur bout, and then earned a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. He would go on to win the WBC heavyweight title as a pro and successfully defend that belt ten times.

If that’s not a feel-good success story in your eyes, you need to get some therapy or, better yet, just go and fuck off.

Yes, the man was flawed and lacking in technical ability. And I called him on that, repeatedly. Hell, I once even compared his fighting style to that of a drunken tranny in a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot brawl. He should’ve fine-tuned his skill set. His inability to do so made his fall from grace much more abrupt...and brutal.

He also entered into extreme cringe territory when he wallowed in all those lame and unhinged excuses following his loss(es) to Tyson Fury.

But, all in all, Deontay Wilder had an honorable, respectable career and the sport was better with him in it. 

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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