Don King “Deontay rose to the challenge. He was shades of Ali”







    Don King looked surprisingly pleased in the post-fight press conference on Saturday. The fight which crowned Deontay Wilder, via unanimous decision over Bermane Stiverne, the WBC heavyweight championship of the world was almost certain to upset the man who promotes the dethroned fighter, but King did well to don a smile for James Helder of iFL TV.

    If Deontay Wilder wasn’t currently under the sprawling managerial banner of Al Haymon, I would assume that King had been up to his old tricks again. The aging promoter was renowned in his heyday for walking in with the champion and walking out with the champion, regardless of the result. Many a former belt-holder has been discarded by this ruthless businessman in favor of whichever fighter had just beaten them, something that nowadays is hard to attribute to this congenial old man who wears a constant smile and waves miniature flags wherever he goes.

    In that sense, his flattering comments about Deontay Wilder are in-keeping with his longstanding modus operandi of switching to the side of the victor, even if such a play is not on his mind this time.

    “Deontay rose to the challenge. He was shades of Ali having fun and that was a thing Ali always said; when you’re really fighting, have fun doing it. And so he really emulated and and imitated that, and he did a great job.”

    Wilder did appear to be enjoying himself as he eased over the twelve round distance, something that many onlookers were doubtful he was capable of. Prior to Saturday evening, Wilder has not gone past four rounds in his thirty-two previous outings. Both he and Stiverne traded as many verbal shots as gloved ones, especially when a punch connected. King highlights how his fallen fighter provided the right kind of test for Wilder in his crowning moment.

    “It was a great fight. Bermane was an ideal opponent for him because he was steady, steadfast and on him all throughout the whole fight.”

    Stiverne did not halt his forward march all evening, even if he did abandon his head movement at times. Seeming a stationary target for the bombs Wilder was throwing at him, he did bring constant pressure. When Wilder came within range, Stiverne delivered some explosive hooks on his taller adversary, landing some great shots in the process. He just didn’t manage to get there often enough.

    Then it was time for King to wax poetic as he was asked if it was fitting for a portion of the heavyweight title to be back around the waist of an American fighter, given that it happened on Muhammad Ali’s birthday.

    “Yes it’s a thrill beyond description or depiction and it emulates and imitates the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. So you know, the defeat will make Bermane a better fighter, so he gon’ come back out and go to work to see what he can do, but this is Deontay’s hour now and I’m just so proud he brought it back to Old Glory.”

    That last remark was pretty callous, considering how disheartened Stiverne must have felt after losing the title he was so proud to possess. It is unfortunate that the fight wasn’t a more tightly-contested affair because I would love to see a rematch between these two. Stiverne is the first fighter willing to stand up to Wilder’s power, but with the scorecards as wide as they were (that 120-107 card still makes me feel sick) it is hard to justify a second go-round unless it is a contractual obligation to do so.