Deontay Wilder wins championship fight in Birmingham without right hand

Deontay Wilder wins championship fight in Birmingham without right hand
Deontay Wilder, left, uses his left hand to defeat Chris Arreola in Birmingham last year. (Nik Layman/Alabama NewsCenter)

Deontay Wilder’s defense of his World Boxing Council heavyweight title was in the fourth round when the champ felt a pop or pull in his right arm.

And, of course, he kept fighting.

“That’s what he does,” manager/trainer Jay Deas said following Wilder’s technical knockout of challenger Chris Arreola Saturday before an announced crowd of 11,974 in Legacy Arena at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

“The last four rounds of the fight,” Deas said, “Deontay was really a one-handed fighter.”

In the ring following the fight, Wilder said he injured his right hand and tore his right biceps. From that point on, he sparingly used his right hand that has long been his most devastating weapon.

“I had to fight like a champion … and display my jab,” he said.

This is the second time the Tuscaloosa native has damaged his right hand in a pro fight. The first came in his January 2015, 12-round decision over Bermane Stiverne in Las Vegas when he broke the hand, requiring pins to be inserted to repair it.

Saturday, Wilder provided a fashion tribute to Muhammad Ali, who died June 3. The former champion was pictured on the front of the shirt and pants Wilder wore as he entered the ring.

“Floats like a butterfly” was printed on the back of one pants leg with the picture of a butterfly. “Stings like a bee” was on the back of the other with a picture of a bee.

Wilder’s blows – primarily his jabs – injured Arreola, closing the challenger’s left eye and leaving the right eye swollen as well.

“I got one of the best jabs in the world, because I have super trainers,” Wilder would say later. “I got Mark Breland, who showed me all kinds of ways to throw my jab. I got Russ Ambers who shows me techniques. I have Jay, my long-time trainer on everything, and of course I have Cuz Hill, who gives me great work on the mitts.”

At least twice, Wilder seemed to invoke the flair of Ali. He swiveled his hips as though making light of Arreola’s body blows.

“He’s a happy guy and he starts doing these dance moves,” Deas said. “He decided to incorporate it. I just saw it as he’s getting his groove.”


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A seven-blow Wilder flurry sent the challenger to the canvas in the fourth.

“The fourth-round knockdown was a situation where he just hit me with the perfect shot,” Arreola said. “Nothing I could do about it.”

Another onslaught from the home-state boxer ended the round.

As the bout went on, Wilder seemed increasingly anxious to start each round. He didn’t wait for the bell to signal his return to battle; he generally was there before the 10-second warning that the bell was imminent.

The challenger remained on his stool until the last instant each succeeding round through the eighth. His corner stopped the fight before the bell signaled the start of the ninth.

Through eight rounds, Wilder was ahead on all three scorecards. Two judges scored it 80-71 and the third 79-72.

As Arreola held his young son, Wilder was asked about facing the winner of the upcoming Wladimir Klitschko-Tyson Fury fight, or perhaps Anthony Joshua.

“My goal is to unify the division,” Wilder said. “I’m one of the baddest, hardest-hitting heavyweights in the business. Right here from Alabama, baby. I came a long way. So whoever’s got those belts, that’s who I want. It don’t matter if I got a broke hand, got a torn muscle, I’m going to fight like heavyweight champions do.

“Of course I want the Furys, of course I want the Joshuas but the question is, Do they want me?”

Those or other possible bouts will have to wait on the results of Wilder’s trip to UAB Hospital.

Speaking to reporters outside Wilder’s training room, Deas wouldn’t speculate how long Wilder might be sidelined. He did note that his charge had come back from the prior broken hand in just two months.

Deas said Wilder was frustrated by his injury, especially after having gotten back on track after his previously scheduled fight was called off when Alexander Povetkin tested positive for meldonium, a banned performance-enhancing drug.

“We’re going to let the doctors do what they do and whatever they tell us, we’ll follow to the letter,” the trainer said. “We were hoping to get back in before the end of the year. As of right now, we still are hoping to get back in before the end of the year. When we get the report, we’ll know what we’re looking at.”

In a video to fans on his social media accounts Sunday, Wilder said he had punched Arrela so hard with his right hand that the pins in his hand were bent into a V-shape. He said the torn bicep also required treatment.

According to stats from CompuBox, Wilder landed 152 of his 346 punches (43.9 percent) compared to Arreola’s 52 of 188 (27.7 percent). The champ had the edge in jabs – 81 of 209 (38.8 percent) to 13 of 72 (18.1 percent) – and power punches – 71 of 137 (51.8 percent) to 39 of 116 (33.6 percent).

Wilder’s was a balanced attack with 10 jabs per round and nine power shots per round. Arreola landed seven power shots per round.

Wilder is now 37-0 with 36 knockouts, while Arreola is 36-5-1.

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