How time flies. A decade ago today, an emerging heavyweight banger named Deontay Wilder had his one and only fight in the UK (so far, but might Wilder return to these shores one day?) Facing 2000 Olympic gold medal winner, the always capable of talking a confident fight Audley Harrison, Wilder took “A-Force” out in the opening round, ending Harrison’s career.
Wilder, then aged 27 and sporting a 27-0(27) record, had not yet faced anyone of real significance. This would not change on the night of April 27, 2013, yet many of us who were there that night went home somewhat impressed by what we saw from “The Bronze Bomber” all the same. The main event was the Amir Khan-Julio Diaz fight, but there was much interest in Wilder.
Harrison, a talented southpaw, was, of course, a household name in the UK, for the wrong reasons. It’s said we Brits “love a good loser,” but Harrison, who had lost in good company six times prior to meeting Wilder, usually going home with a quick KO defeat attached to his record, was seemingly loved by nobody.
Harrison, then aged 41 and having been drinking heavily from the bar at the center of The Last Chance Saloon for some time, nevertheless talked about yet another great fight – as in a truly great and convincing fight. If you were suckered in by Harrison’s conviction, by his eloquence, you’d have thought Wilder had no chance. But those that were able to resist Audley’s considerable charm (and still had, fresh in their minds, Harrison’s recent quick defeats at the hands of David Haye and David Price) were wondering how long it would take Wilder to get “A-Force” out of there.
Anything longer than a few rounds at the most and Wilder would have failed; his UK debut doing nothing to win over his many critics. As it turned out, Wilder needed just over a minute to end Harrison and end his career. Wilder, as we would grow accustomed to seeing in future fights of his, was composed until hurting his man. Then all hell broke loose. Looking for all the world like an out-of-control windmill, one that had been juiced by a few thousand volts, Wilder went berserk as he hurt Harrison with a right hand to the head.
Upon seeing Harrison’s legs dip, Wilder went, well, wild. Swinging with all his might and almost going over himself at one point, the visiting banger put everything he had into trying to rip Harrison’s head off. Audley bravely got back up after having been hammered to the floor by the few shots that did connect, but the ref deemed him unfit to carry on. Nobody but Harrison questioned the call.
But the questions about Wilder remained. How good was he? Could he take a shot himself? When would he meet a genuine contender? We got our answers in time. Interestingly, Wilder called out Tyson Fury in the post-fight interview. As we all know, these two would meet some years later – three times in fact. And maybe four. There has been some chatter surrounding a possible “secret deal” between Fury and Wilder to fight a fourth fight, this time at Wembley, this summer. We will find out in time if there is any substance to this rumor. But might Wilder wind up having his second fight in the UK, some ten years after he first showed us British fans his raw power up close and personal?