Assessing the Popularity of Deontay Wilder: Is Race an Issue? Part II

Deontay Wilder
Deontay Wilder

The Management of a Future Champion


Read: Assessing the Popularity of Deontay Wilder: Is Race an Issue? Part I

In the summer of 2008 Golden Boy Promotions announced the signing of Deontay Wilder, the first of subsequent contracts that would span the next seven years. During that time he managed to win his first thirty-two bouts by knockout which ultimately led to him capturing the WBC title in 2015. Normally a fighter with the aforementioned resume would have fans foaming out of the mouth in anticipation to see more especially within the heavyweight division.

What was needed in order to peak the interest of American boxing fans? Even becoming the first undefeated American heavyweight champion in 2015 since Michael Moore (1995) didn't increase the buzz because the fans didn't know about it. Shouldn't it be the job of the promoter along with the management team to attract attention to such feats in order to make their fighter more of a draw in the future?

The underlying issue could be the fact that within those thirty-three wins under the Golden Boy banner, only one was against a former champion in Siarhei Liakhovic; whom was the only recognizable name on his resume other than the under-achieving Audley Harrison.

Using the example of middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin from part one of this series, he had a similar resume of the same caliber of opponents within his respective division and was able to avoid “slipping through the cracks.” Tom Loeffler and K2 promotions ceased every attempt to market their fighter to garner the attention of the average fan. In addition, Abel Sanchez (trainer for Golovkin) can be said to have “led the charge” with his outlandish claims of what his fighter is capable of which excited fans enough to stay tuned. Those claims to this day have not been proven but served their purpose as Golovkin has successfully become one of the more popular fighters in the sport before he secured fights with Kell Brook, Daniel Jacobs and Canelo Alvarez.

The Move to Lou DiBella and PBC

It seems given a period in which Golden Boy had rights to an exorbitant amount of fighters, they failed to prioritize Wilder as one of their top fighters thus resulting in a lack of his marketability. This ultimately led to him being one of the many fighters including Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman to make the move to Lou DiBella Promotions under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner in late 2015.

Since the move he has continued his dominance while fighting better opposition and he still lacks the American fan support. It has even gotten to the point where he has been blamed for the cancellation and postponement of fights because his opponents had failed drug tests. Part of this could have been influenced by the scrutiny his manager and founder of the PBC banner Al Haymon was receiving (which could be seen as a racial issue in itself).

At this point it gets harder to ignore the “elephant in the room” as other eastern European fighters such as Oleksandr Usyk and Vasyl Lomachenko continue to get more attention from the American fan base.

Conclusion

While the job of the management team of a fighter is to increase marketability, the fighter still has the job of “self-promotion.” This was a major factor missing from his career while he was signed with Golden Boy and during his first three title defenses. Over the last two years we have seen an increase in self-promotion that in turn landed him opportunities such as an Everlast endorsement deal and a role on the popular reality TV show “WAGS.” However there has only been a minute increase in support for him as the American heavyweight champion. Sure he may not have the great boxing skills of previous world champions (something he admits), but he has one punch knockout power. Aren't boxing fans more drawn to fighters who manifest the ability to knockout their opponents? What is the real problem? Is race an issue or not?

By: Bernard Mukes & EJ "2K" Williams

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