Deontay Wilder is rightly considered the most devastating puncher in the world today.
He underscored that reputation with a sudden, one-punch finish of Robert Helenius in the first round of their bout on Saturday.
It was an extraordinary shot. Wilder reared back onto the ropes and chopped a short right down. The punch didn’t look like much at first glance but left Helenius flat on his back, his eyes wide but knocked out cold.
“When I hit him as you can see I was going for another one and it was so fast, it was fast for me. I didn’t even know how devastating it was until I seen him fall on the canvas,” Wilder said afterwards.
“I didn’t know I did what I did. Because we’ve been training for certain things to become muscle memory so when I see certain events happen in the ring, my body just reacts, just responds. Sometimes when you’re in the ring, you don’t see what other people see on the outside. My body just reacted.”
Wilder’s trainer, and former opponent and sparring partner, Malik Scott said of Wilder: “He’s the most dynamic fighter in the history of the sport. It’s not coming from gossip, I’m going off what I’ve seen.
“He did that backing up. He did that tonight backing up, he did that setting traps, having tonnes of humility. The best heavyweight in the world and the most dynamic fighter in the history of the sport.”
But that awesome punching power weighs on Wilder too. He had sparred Helenius before and knew him well. He feared for his opponent after that stoppage.
“My heart goes out to him and hope he’s doing okay and he’ll be able to go back to his family because this is a tough business that we’re in,” he said. “I’m just trying to support my family as well. This is what we sign up to do.”
Wilder continued: “Yeah that’s a great knockout, making history and stuff like that, but how much is that man going to suffer? He may be alright right now, a little bit but what about the next day? What about two weeks from now? What about a month from now, maybe years from now?”
Tearful, Wilder thought of Prichard Colon, the fighter who was left with a life-altering brain injury after a 2017 contest.
“You all don’t understand what we go through. I don’t even know him like that. But I’ll always be an advocate for us. This man will never know what it feels like to be somebody’s father and that’s the most precious thing in the world to be somebody’s father,” he said.
“This man will never have a chance of living again because he got in the ring to support his family. But now his family have got to take care of him for the rest of his life. He probably was the breadwinner of his family and now they’re looking, seeking for help.
“That’s why you can’t play this. This is serious.”
He demanded respect for every boxer. “I always have concern for all fighters,” he said.
“I’m a big advocate for fighters because we get done wrong. This is not a sport. A sport is something you play. You don’t play this. We risk our lives for you guys’ entertainment,” Wilder declared.
“That’s why I tell people you’ve got to respect all fighters. People always go on about records and all this. ‘He lost and he’s a bum’ and all that. Well you get in there then. Because you don’t play this. You can’t play this. We demand respect at all times for every fighter that steps in the ring, I don’t care what their record is, I don’t care who they are or where they come from.
“I just did a job. I’m great at what I do. [But] I don’t mean to take people away from their lifestyle.”