Johann Duhaupas spent much of his Saturday night serving as the proverbial punching bag against Deontay Wilder, absorbing a mutilating array of shots from the heavyweight champ.
By the end of the ninth round, the Frenchman’s mug had been transformed into a nearly unrecognizable, crimson mess, much to the delight of a blood-crazed, pro-Wilder crowd at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.
And yet after each and every bone-crushing blow, Duhaupas refused to retreat, let alone succumb to gravity.
“His face was becoming disfigured, but the guy had a great chin, kept taking punches and just kept coming and coming,” says the 6-foot-7 Wilder, whose own face took some rare abuse, with an area beneath his left eye ballooning into a large hematoma courtesy of Duhaupas’ relentless jab. “I knew if he kept taking all that damage and punishment, the referee would have to stop it—I just didn’t know when.”
Finally, at the 49-second mark of a debilitating 10th round, Wilder found The Moment when he pivoted into a blind spot on the left of the 6-foot-5 Duhaupas before driving home a savage, head-swiveling right uppercut.
“Being able to swivel and swerve like that and come with the uppercut is a product of my athleticism,” said Wilder of the eighth shot that was among a mind-boggling series of 37 unanswered punches. “That right uppercut was a game-changing blow, coming from a side move that we train to do all the time. I heard him groaning. I knew he couldn’t handle much more of my infighting.”
The crunching blow was the first of 13 successive uppercuts—seven with the right fist and six with the left—that battered Duhaupas backward and into the ropes.
Following that barrage, Wilder landed a left hook with 22 seconds remaining, the first of 12 more consecutive strikes. Then came a big overhand right at the four-second mark that started a wicked, round-finishing four-punch sequence.
“He’s tough, strong, resilient and took a good shot and still came forward, but that accumulation of punches [in the 10th] got him to go backward,” says Jay Deas, one of Wilder’s three trainers, along with former champion Mark Breland and Russ Anber. “Deontay’s worked really hard on his infighting abilities to the point where he’s become the best tall heavyweight infighter since Riddick Bowe.”
That pulverizing assault tenderized Duhaupas for the definitive blow that came at the 2:21 mark of the 11th, when Wilder got full extension on a monstrous right hand and slammed it against the challenger’s left eye and temple, igniting a fight-closing, 12-punch blitz.
“That’s it! That’s it!” referee Jack Reiss shouted repeatedly, stepping in at the 55-second mark and waving his right arm, essentially invoking boxing’s version of the slaughter rule.
“That was definitely a pivotal point when Deontay circled into that uppercut in the 10th round,” Breland said. “That threw [Duhaupas] off completely going into the 11th.
“I always tell Deontay, ‘Do not throw an overhand right; throw it straight,’ and that’s exactly what he did. I told him, ‘Throw two, three or four punches at a time, and if you do that, he’s not going to punch back.’”
The post-fight stats underscore just how dominant Wilder was against Duhaupas (32-3, 20 KOs): The champ had a better than three-to-one advantage in total punches landed (326-to-98), nearly three-to-one in jabs (143-51) and nearly four-to-one in power shots (183-to-47).
“His chin was granite, because that right hand off the jab was definitely landing all night. But when I caught him in that last round and threw that flurry of punches, enough was enough,” said Wilder, who improved to 35-0 with 34 knockouts.
“I had an opportunity to throw that right, got him [on the eye and temple] with a perfect shot, and eventually [Reiss] stepped in and did the right thing. His nose had to be stitched back together with a big thread. When they cleaned that man up after the fight, I could hardly recognize him.”
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