Deontay Wilder (34-0, 33 KO’s) will defend his WBC World heavyweight title on September 26th at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, against a little-known Frenchman named Johann Duhaupas (32-2, 20 KO’s).
Duhaupas sits outside the top 10 rankings of all four main sanctioning bodies and has conducted his career thus far almost exclusively in Europe. Never has he been anywhere near a world championship, but now his chance has unexpectedly come.
Wilder’s last voluntary defense came against another uncelebrated fighter Eric Molina, who took time out of his full-time teaching job to lace up the boots and have a crack at what is meant to be the richest prize in sports. One could easily reach the conclusion that Wilder is racking up easy defences for the paydays and the stats, and he won’t have been he first.
Yet, if the perspective shifts from the scorned fan to the wizened trainer, a new, more reasonable point of view emerges to explain why sub-par opposition are being chosen as fodder for a man proclaimed to be a monster.
Peter Fury has trained his nephew Tyson to the brink of shaking up the world as they prepare for their fight on October 24th against the man many consider the actual heavyweight champ, Wladimir Klitschko, for the other three recognised belts.
His stable also holds another promising talent in his son Hughie Fury -who was recently rumoured to have received a clandestine offer to fight Wilder on six week’s notice- alongside American Eddie Chambers.
He is well-versed in the training and handling of the big men and their careers, and in a recent interview with Boxing News Online he said he believes Wilder’s handlers are directing their man intelligently.
“He’s just not ready. When you take all the hype away, that’s the reason they’re getting these opponents.”
“Wilder’s team are doing exactly the right thing with him. They’re not getting involved in the hype themselves; they’re trying to get him the rounds. He’s almost created a problem for himself with the amount of knockouts he’s had.”
Wilder’s biggest appeal is intertwined with the most frequent criticism directed at him. He has shown tremendous power having stopped all but one of his former opponents, but the names of highly regarded pros are a scarcity on his resume. Malik Scott and Bermane Stiverne are probably the only standouts in his win column.
He may have 34 fights, but with a late start in the game, he has essentially been learning on the job since his debut in 2008, aided by freakish athleticism and booming power in each hand.
He has been marketed and handled perfectly and to his credit, he stepped up to the plate by going 12 for the first time when beating Stiverne for the belt, showcasing previously unseen patience and deliberation.
For Peter Fury, there are still improvements to be made but those are expected given the circumstances. Wilder walked into the gym at 18 years old for the first time. He has found himself near the top of the heap very quickly, and it will take more than physical gifts and the skill set he has developed at this point to keep him there. Duhaupas represents an opportunity to develop his craft.
“He’s got the WBC belt but he’s just not ready for the elite champions yet because he’s inexperienced. But he beat the champion, Stiverne, and I think Wilder’s improving, he’s still got a lot of flaws but he’s a work in progress.”
“Duhaupas is a good opponent for him; it’s a good learning fight. He’s not a big puncher; he’s fairly tough so I think Wilder will get some rounds out of him.”
A mandatory challenge looms in the distance for Wilder against the Russian Alexander Povetkin (29-1, 21 KO’s), whose only loss came to Wladimir Klitschko two years ago. There we may see what improvements, if any, Wilder has made, provided the champ comes through Duhaupas unscathed.