Deontay Wilder: The Next Great American Heavyweight?

Teddy MazurekCorrespondent IAugust 21, 2008

Team USA’s performance in Beijing was the worst showing in U.S. Olympic boxing history.  Much has been written on whose shoulders the fault should be put on, but frankly I am getting tired of the blame game.

To put it simply, team USA will be bringing home only one Olympic medal.

But following the boxing from Beijing wasn’t a complete waste, right?

Before the Olympics I knew little about Deontay Wilder, who at worst will win a bronze medal in the heavyweight division.  Wilder will fight August 22 in the semifinals against Clemente Russo of Italy. 

One medal for team USA is bad, but if you could pick from what division that medal would come from, wouldn’t you pick either the heavyweight or super heavyweight division?  If a medal came out of these divisions, then most likely that fighter would fight professionally as a heavyweight. 

The time that Americans started to lose interest in boxing was around the same instance when there was no unified heavyweight champion (especially no American champion or contender). Do you see in what direction I am leaning towards?

Deontay Wilder may be the solution that boxing enthusiasts have been looking for to increase the popularity of the sport.   I know.  Deontay Wilder as the next American heavyweight champion, you must be kidding? 

Obviously it is a huge stretch, and Wilder could not become a champion for at least four to five years at best (assuming he goes pro after the Olympics) but keep in mind there are a lot of things that benefit his chance of becoming the top American heavyweight and even a champion.

The two major things that benefit him are his skills as a boxer and the lack of American contenders in the heavyweight division.

Deontay Wilder started fighting when he was almost 20 years old, and now he is an Olympic medalist at 22.  Wilder burst onto the amateur heavyweight scene with only 16 amateur fights and soon won the 2007 Golden Gloves Tournament.  A month later he won the 2007 U.S. National Tournament and cruised through the U.S. Trials.  Wilder’s ability to start boxing late in age but reach success in the amateurs in a short period of time reflects his skills as a boxer. 

At a height of 6’9’’ and weighing in at 201 pounds, Wilder has the potential to be a dominant force in either the cruiserweight or heavyweight division.  Specifically Wilder’s height and reach separate him from most of the top boxers that he will have to fight on his journey to stardom.

While Deontay Wilder has the potential talent to be a star, more importantly he has lady luck on his side. When Deontay Wilder decides to turn professional he will see that little stands in his way of becoming the best American heavyweight. 

There are many American journeymen in the heavyweight division such as John Ruiz, Monte Barrett, Calvin Brock, and Hasim Rahman, all of whom should be retired before Deontay Wilder rises that high in the rankings. 

The only fighters that Wilder might fear are Eddie Chambers 31-1, 17 KOs, Chris Arreola 24-0, 21 KOs, and Chazz Witherspoon 23-1, 15 KOs, however his height and power should prove too much for these contenders. 

While it is a stretch at this point to say that Deontay Wilder will be a heavyweight champion, it would not be surprising to see Wilder as the best American heavyweight in five years or more.