The task on this young man’s shoulders is one of the biggest and most important in the centuries-old history of boxing.
Wilder must succeed where the likes of Chris Arreola, Kevin Johnson and Eddie Chambers have so far failed; he must reignite interest amongst the modern American audience in heavyweight boxing.
For too long now, casual boxing fans in the States have been put off by the Eastern European invasion at the top of the heavyweight rankings, with an apparent conveyor belt of upright, boring fighters coming along and suffocating a division that was once electrified by the likes of Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Sonny Liston.
Wilder, a 25-year-old from Tuscaloosa, Ala., needs to electrify it once again. A bronze medallist at the 2008 Olympic Games, he has all the tools necessary to thrive in the landscape of today’s heavyweight division.
He is a huge man, standing at 6’ 7” and generally weighing in somewhere around the 22-pound mark. A childhood playing basketball and football ensures he is quick and light on his feet, with good hand-eye coordination and hand-speed marking him out as the first really athletic American heavyweight in over a decade.
He has so far been brought along gently, cruising to 16 wins in a row and knocking out every single opponent he’s faced. He is signed with the promotional juggernaut that is Golden Boy, the brain child of Oscar De La Hoya, and they have been very cute so far in their dealings with the potentially lucrative Wilder.
Every promotional picture has an American flag draped over his broad shoulders, and the nickname ‘The Bronze Bomber’ is a shameless tribute to legendary heavyweight champion ‘The Brown Bomber’ Joe Louis.
But someone as savvy as De La Hoya will know the financial gem he has in Wilder. He has the looks and the talent to become the next great heavyweight champion, and can single-handedly revive America’s love-affair with top-class heavyweight boxing.
While there is an argument that he isn’t the best fighter on the list at the present time, there is no argument that he is the most important heavyweight of his generation.