By Andreas Hale
Perfection in a boxing ring is boring. But flaws? Flaws are exciting! Flaws make for thrilling fights and engage fans because of their unpredictability. It’s the reason why boxing fans are falling in love with Deontay Wilder because he remedies his mistakes with bone crushing power. But when those mistakes happen, drama ensues. That’s exactly what happened this past weekend against Luis Ortiz and one of the reasons why the world is slowly coming back around to heavyweight boxing.
But let’s talk about near perfection. There are fighters who are so technically savvy that they limit the risks and capitalize on mistakes. While being a grandmaster in chess is an accomplishment, nobody is here to pay for two guys plucking away at each other. Fans want to see the chessboard cleared and one fighter using it to smash their opponent on the skull. We appreciate perfection, but yearn for flaws.
Don’t get it confused, Floyd Mayweather’s technical ability wasn’t the reason why he became such a massive star. To be completely honest, you’ll be hard pressed to find a majority of people who enjoy watching Mayweather compete. The allure is everything that comes before and after the 36 minutes in the boxing ring. Mayweather has mastered that while other boxing technicians have not.
People didn’t want to see Mayweather fight, they wanted to see Mayweather lose. And that’s two very different things. Deontay Wilder is a guy you want to see fight because you really don’t know what’s going to happen. Sure, he’s undefeated and has knocked out every single person he’s been in the ring again. However, watching him work through his flaws is just as exciting as him knocking people out. Against Ortiz, Wilder started out slow and was unable to figure out the Cuban Southpaw. Fans held their breath and waited for the moment that The Bronze Bomber landed one of those power shots and changed the entire fight.
It just took a lot longer to happen and the road to get there was full of twists and turns.
Ortiz capitalized on Wilder’s flaws to nearly secure a seventh round knockout. If there was just a little bit more time or a different referee, that could have been the end of Wilder. To his credit, Wilder has an excellent chin and another fighter would have been staring up at the lights. But the great equalizer finally arrived in the 10th round when Wilder cut loose a combination that put Ortiz down and nailed him with a scintillating uppercut to put him away.
It was one of those fights that showed that there are still raw elements to Wilder’s game. The critics had a field day with the champion’s recklessness and issues figuring out a Southpaw. Oddsmakers have taken those flaws and turned the line to Joshua’s favor. People are arguing that Wilder isn’t really that good and was taken to the limit by a 38-ish year old Cuban.
To that the responds should be simple: So?
The fact of the matter is that the fight was fun to watch. And that’s exactly what boxing needs.
Something similar happened with Anthony Joshua in his fight with Wladimir Klitschko. Although his flaw wasn’t his style, it was his conditioning. Like Wilder, Joshua rose to the occasion, overcame his flaws and turned in an exciting performance that only heightened his stock. Being dropped in the sixth round after emptying his gas tank added an element of drama to the fight that turned it from a good to great fight. Watching Joshua turn the tables on Klitschko and finish him with a right uppercut that nearly tore his head from his shoulders and then put him away in the 11th made it a Fight of the Year contender.
Flaws and someone’s ability to expose them are what boxing needs. And the heavyweight division is one where a single flaw can change everything. Perhaps more importantly, the ability to overcome flaws is an art that goes underrated.
Fighters with flaws will always be fun to watch. The best fights are between fighters with flaws. As much as we love Andre Ward and Floyd Mayweather, they were almost too perfect and often sucked the drama out of every fight they were in. But Manny Pacquiao? He was fun because he was flawed. Even when he was terrorizing weight classes, Manny Pacquiao did things that would make people shake their head. He took risks by darting in and out until it finally caught up to him with a well placed counter from Juan Manuel Marquez that put him into an eternal slumber.
Flaws add drama to boxing. When an opponent finds something to exploit, you had better believe they will attack it. From that point, it’s up to the other fighter to not allow that flaw to spell their demise. If and when Wilder and Joshua meet, Joshua will certainly look at the Luis Ortiz video and the numerous other times that Wilder was reckless or when he crowds himself by rushing in at the inkling that his opponent is hurt. Wilder will most certainly look to test the gas tank of Joshua by dragging him out to the later rounds. It should result in yet another exciting fight because of their respective flaws.