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Wilder vs Duhaupas: Does the challenger have more than a miracle chance?

Johann Duhaupas is not considered a real heavyweight contender, but is there more than meets the eye for Deontay Wilder's next opponent?

David A. Smith

When it was announced that WBC heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder would make his second defense against Johann Duhaupas, there were more or less two reactions from fight fans. The first was general negativity, the feeling that Wilder (34-0, 33 KO) was being fed another non-contender, as we saw in June against Eric Molina. The second was, "Who?"

Duhaupas, a 34-year-old French fighter, is not even well known among the sport's diehard fans. He's fought most of his 11-year pro career at home in France, with stops in places like Switzerland and Luxembourg. But his two most recent fights, held in Germany and Russia, have come against known opposition, and they're worth taking a look at as Duhaupas gears up for his shot at Wilder on Saturday's PBC on NBC card from Birmingham, Alabama.

Duhaupas (32-2, 20 KO) faced Erkan Teper on March 14 this year, losing a 12-round decision in Stuttgart on scores of 116-111, 116-111, and 115-112, with Teper losing a point in the ninth round for pushing, meaning that Teper won nine rounds on two cards and eight on the third.

Here's the full fight:

Duhaupas clearly and cleanly lost this fight, but he wasn't overmatched, really. Teper, now 15-0 after a July knockout of David Price, is a rising contender in the division, for whatever that's worth, and certainly not a bad fighter. But if Wilder is as good as advertised on Saturday night, it's hard to see him having any serious trouble with Duhaupas, a pretty stationary fighter who takes a good shot but is certainly there to be hit.

Duhaupas then took a fight in April against veteran Manuel Charr. Less than a month after losing to Teper, Duhaupas "upset" Charr, a fighter more famous than he is good, winning a majority decision in Moscow on scores of 98-93, 98-93, and 95-95, the latter quite generous to Charr.

Duhaupas, a 6'5" righty, was able to use his height and reach advantages against Charr to control the distance of this fight, winning quite handily. But Wilder, who is 6'7", is not going to plod around and follow Duhaupas around the ring, giving him the chance to keep the fight where Duhaupas would prefer it take place.

Watching these two fights, the two most recent and relevant of Duhaupas' career, it's hard to imagine him as a threat to Deontay Wilder. While this is heavyweight boxing and one big punch from a big man like Duhaupas can conceivably make anything possible, the smart money is obviously on Wilder for a reason. Given the video evidence of their most recent bouts, Wilder looks like the significantly better fighter, even counting some minor struggles against Eric Molina last time out, which mostly amounted to Molina lasting into the ninth round, not so much that Molina actually gave Wilder significant problems.

The hope is that if or when Wilder cruises past Duhaupas, he'll sign for a fight with WBC mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin, largely considered the No. 2 heavyweight in the world right now, behind only Wladimir Klitschko, the only man to beat Povetkin thus far. To prepare for that potential showdown, Povetkin is facing 6'7" Polish plodder Mariusz Wach on November 4 in Russia.

We'll have to see if we get that far, or if both win as expected, if we actually get the fight. But from the way it looks on video, against fighters who aren't much like Wilder, Johann Duhaupas is being counted out for a reason on Saturday. Not because he can't fight a little, and not because he's a truly awful opponent. Duhaupas is merely a bad one, relative to our expectations of "world championship" fights. He does not appear to be at Wilder's level, meaning that the chatter has substance if you want to look into it at all, which in this case is not necessarily required. Duhaupas is a bad bet for an upset on Saturday, but never say never. (Or say never, I don't care.)

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