By Jake Donovan
The early returns from Deontay Wilder’s 1st round knockout of Audley Harrison suggest that the American will have a tougher fight impressing critics than he’s been given from any of his 28 opponents to date.
Wilder wasted no time in unloading on Harrison, cornering the Brit before eventually flooring barely a minute into Saturday’s heavyweight clash at Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England. Harrison arose to unsteady legs, prompting referee Terry O’Connor to halt the contest after just 70 seconds of action.
“I always train for the long run,” Wilder (28-0, 28KO) said after the bout. “I expect the best to come out of the opponent. It was a great camp. It was my first time in Sheffield. It brought that much more excitement to perform in front of the fans.”
The dueling heavyweights spent time together during training camp last year, when Harrison was preparing for a showdown with David Price. The friendship formed had no bearing on the training habits for this fight. Wilder came in with the same ferocity that has been the case in each trip to the ring through four-plus years as a pro.
There was early concern of Wilder still being raw, boasting minimal amateur experience despite the Olympic pedigree. The early portion of his pro run suggested an earn-as-you-learn pace, but has always remained confident of being destined for greatness.
“When I go in the ring, I know my opponents think, "Man, he got power." Just like Mike Tyson, his opponents were taken out mentally. My purpose is so much higher; my heart is so much bigger. My desire is what takes me far.”
The American heavyweight made his first trip outside of North America since capturing Olympic bronze in the 2008 Beijing Games. His medal-winning effort spared the 2008 U.S. boxing squad the embarrassment of being shut out, though such was the fate of the 2012 U.S. male boxing team in London.
Wilder felt for that group, so much that he wants to continue to serve as an ambassador for his nation. The fight with Harrison carried a lot of pride for the 6’7” Alabama slammer, who would love a chance to add another stamp to his passport in the near future.
“I took another step and gained more fans,” Wilder said of the trip across the Atlantic Ocean. “Each step is the next step. This is my year. Everyone has their due season. It may not come when you want it, but this is my time.”
Another young, unbeaten heavyweight is making similar claims. Wilder is well aware of the noise coming from this corner of the world and has no problem settling such differences in the ring in his very next fight, even channeling his inner poet in issuing his next challenge.
“Fee, fi, fo, fum; I’m the man with the right hand bomb. Who will be the next one,” Wilder rhetorically asked before answering his own question. “Ty-son… Fu-ry - where oh where… oh where can he be? For he's the next man I want to see. Sheffield, England do you agree?”
Fury is coming off of a 7th round knockout of former cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham last week in New York City. The unbeaten Brit overcame a 2nd round knockdown to score the knockout in his NBC-televised stateside debut.
Wilder still has yet to be extended beyond the fourth round of any given prizefight. The win over Harrison marked his 16th career opening round knockout.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox