Deontay Wilder’s explosiveness makes him a unique heavyweight threat

A year and a day ago Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder put on one of the great heavyweight title fights in recent memory. Wilder has not fought since that memorable night in Las Vegas Fury won by stoppage in the 11th round in a classic bout which had more momentum shifts than a grandfather clock.

But in those 366 days, we’ve learned that at worst, Wilder is the third best heavyweight in the world, and possibly the second best. He will return to action on Saturday (9 p.m. ET, Fox Sports PBC Pay-Per-View) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York when he fights Robert Helenius in the main event.

Helenius is 31-3 with 20 knockouts and at nearly 6ft 7″ with a reach of 79″, he has the size to cause problems for Wilder.

Before Wilder’s three-fight streak against Fury, in which the first was a draw and Fury won the last two by stoppage, the general thinking was that a big guy who could box could pose a problem for Wilder.

However, the consensus now is that Wilder’s power is so overwhelming – he’s dropped Fury four times in total across their three bouts – that it would take an all-time great boxer, or someone with a crazy combination of size and boxing ability – to handle it to become with him.

Helenius is definitely not a great boxer of all time, nor does he have a crazy combination of height and boxing skills. Unified Heavyweight Champion Oleksandr Usyk can to be a great boxer of all time and we know for sure that Fury has that crazy combination of size and boxing ability that makes him a problem for everyone.

But apart from Fury and maybe Usyk – there’s no such thing as Usyk could dodge Wilder’s deadly power shots for 12 rounds despite being a good boxer – there’s nobody in the game who could handle the power and pressure that the savage entails.

Wilder and Helenius once trained together, although Wilder doesn’t see it as a factor.

“Sparling and fighting when it really counts are two different things,” Wilder said. “Sparring is more of an exercise. If Robert feels like he can keep up with my show, I have to take his word for it. It will bring more excitement to the fight.

“I’ve never met Helenius when it comes down to it, so who knows what he’ll bring. Everyone knows that fighters train harder than ever when they face me. Hopefully we can spark that excitement [Saturday].”

Wilder is in a nice position to claim the title again. He’s open about his second reign and it’s likely he’ll be favored over anyone else in the world as Fury.

Usyk is a brilliant boxer as evidenced by winning the undisputed cruiserweight title and defeating Anthony Joshua twice. Joshua is a massive man and a powerful puncher, but he’s nowhere near the attacker or finisher that Wilder is.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 22: Deontay Wilder media day training before his fight against Robert Helenius on October 15 at the UFC Apex Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 22, 2022. Credit: DeeCee Carter/MediaPunch /IPX

Deontay Wilder trains ahead of Saturday’s fight against Robert Helenius in New York. (Photo by DeeCee Carter/MediaPunch/IPX)

Joshua rocked Usyk in the second fight but he didn’t have the next gear to move on and finish the job. Wilder sure does.

He’s spent a lot of time preparing at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas and feels enriched since his second loss to Fury last year. That’s scary considering what he’s been able to do so far.

“I can only speak about what I did in training and sparring,” said Wilder. “I would say I look fantastic. I haven’t lost any steps. If anything, I’ve improved, going back to basics and adding new aspects to my skillset. It’s really about applying some things that I haven’t worked on before, so much.”

Helenius says all the right things and understands what he’s getting into against Wilder. But as NBA legend Allen Iverson so eloquently said so many years ago, “We’re talking about training.”

There’s no guarantee Helenius can do the same in a fight just because he survived sparring with Wilder.

“It’s hard to say if I felt Deontay’s power in sparring because of the headgear and bigger gloves,” admitted Helenius. “I think it’s more about his speed. Some people hit with a lot of power, but I think his best quality is explosiveness.”

That explosiveness has helped him to a 42-2-1 record with 41 knockouts and a 41-0 record with 40 knockouts against everyone but Fury.

And if Wilder is to reign as heavyweight champion again, explosiveness will be the primary reason.

Deontay Wilder, left, knocks out Tyson Fury of England in a heavyweight boxing match Saturday October 9, 2021 in Las Vegas.  (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)

Deontay Wilder, left, knocks out WBC champion Tyson Fury of England in a heavyweight title fight October 9, 2021 in Las Vegas. Wilder returns to action against Robert Helenius on Saturday in Brooklyn, New York. (AP Photo/Chase Stevens)

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