American Heavyweight prospect Deontay Wilder took a step up in class last night in Indio, California in a single round destruction of fading heavyweight contender Siarhei Liakovich. In the aftermath of the impressive victory boxing media blew up with the question “Who should Wilder fight next,” and also where does Wilder rank among American heavyweights. In examing the current batch of American heavys I ,in no particular order, made a list of 5 fighters that Wilder could fight and also guys that are around him in the rankings of American Heavyweights.
5. Dominic Guinn – (34W(23 ko)- 10L-1D)
The 38year old veteran Guinn ,coming off a decision loss to Tomasz Adamek, is still a gatekeeper to the upper rankings of the Heavyweight division having been in some of the better fighters in the division over the years. Guinn would not pose much of a threat to Wilder offensively as he is a notoriuosly low volume puncher but, what lacks in offense he makes up for in toughness and savvy and would hopefully push Wilder into the later rounds of a fight.
4. Steve Cunningham -(24w(12ko)-6L)
The former IBF Cruiserweight champ has been plying his trade at Heavyweight for his past few fights with mixed results. His losses versus contenders Adamek and Tyson Fury are nothing to be too ashamed of and he would more than likely provide a very stiff test for Wilder. Cunningham is not a power puncher at Heavyweight but is a smart boxer and very quick as in the ring. Against Tyson Fury , a fighter similar in size to Wilder, Cunningham was able to box fairly effectively and even drop the Irishman with looping right hand before getting caught by a right against the ropes and stopped in the seventh round.
3. Malik Scott – (35w(12ko)-1L-1D)
Malik Scott is coming off a controversial loss to British heavyweight Derek Chisora and while he wants a rematch Chisora has a september fight in London already lined up leaving Scott available. Im not sure Scott would want to risk a fight against a fighter like Wilder as he ,like Wilder, has built a record against less than name opposition. The Scott fight seems unlikely as Scott would gain little from it but, it is a fight I see Wilder having to work in and Scott is another guy that should be able to push him to the later rounds.
2. Seth Mitchell- (26w(19ko)-1L-1D)
Considered for a time by some in boxing as the best American heavyweight prospect Mitchell’s ascent to the top was slowed by a knockout loss to Jonathan Banks and a bit of a boring performance in the rematch. Mitchell would be the most dangerous test for Wilder in terms of a guy with raw power that could potentially expose Wilder’s chin which ,up to this point, no one really knows much about. Inversly Mitchell may be easy prey for Wilder’s monster of a right hand as Mitchell is a plodding fighter who will not be hard for Deontay to find. Mitchell has a tough fight coming with contender Chris Arreola one which honestly I dont think he will win but, that could be the only way he would face Wilder as a win versus Arreola would make a fight versus Wilder a step back for Mitchell.
1. Chris Arreola- (35w(30ko)-3L)
Arreola has a winnable fight against Seth Mitchell on the horizon but win or lose he may just a step to high for Wilder at this point. Arreola ,like Mitchell, would not be a guy that Wilder has to look for and is always happy in a rough fight. The problem for Wilder is that up to this point we have not seen what he does when he cannot put a fighter away early with his power and Arreola has taken big shots from some of the best and kept on going. Arreola’s rough pressure stlye may also cause problems for Deontay defensivly which is another of his skills we have not really seen in his fights. I really think the Mitchell vs. Arreola loser will the match that Golden Boy makes for Wilder especially if its Mitchell.
Honorable Mention-Bernard Stiverne- (23W(21)- 1L-1D)
I will preface this by saying this fight has no chance of happening next for Stiverne as he has a mandatory shot at Vitali Klitschko, also in the opening I said American heavyweights and Stiverne is based in Canada by way of Haiti but, for me he is the best heavyweight this side of the pond. Im only mentioning Stiverne because in a perfect boxing world, yeah I know right, Golden Boy would match Wilder with him to see if Wilder was the real deal or not. At this point if Stiverne loses his title fight I still think he would be way too much for Wilder to handle as Stiverne is also heavy handed and beat much better than Wilder has faced when he beat and bloodied Chris Arreola.
Deontay Wilder still has a lot to prove as a heavyweight contender but, he has plenty of options here in the states for quality opponents that could propel him into the upper echelon of the division and a possible shot at the probably still champion Klitzschko brothers or the winner of the David Haye vs. Tyson Fury fight.
Shaun Ramirez @supershauntendo on twitter