Deontay Wilder Returns: Bodog’s Top Five Best Boxing Comebacks
It’s been a while since we saw Deontay Wilder step into the squared circle – over a year, in fact. On October 9, 2021, Wilder tried to regain the WBC heavyweight title in the third chapter of his trilogy with Tyson Fury – who also boasts one of the best boxing comebacks in recent history. Fury had his number, but their fight will go down as one of the greatest nights in the sport’s proud tradition.
We’ll finally get to see Wilder in action again this Saturday (on FOX PPV, card starts at 6 PM ET) when he touches gloves with Finnish veteran Robert Helenius at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. It’s a mismatch on paper; at press time, Wilder is the –900 favourite at Bodog Sportsbook, your home for the best boxing odds in the world.
This is still an important fight. It’s the first step in what Wilder hopes will be a successful comeback to the top of the heavyweight division. And what a comeback story that would be.
Then again, Wilder has only been gone for just over a year. That leaves him just a bit short when it comes to epic comebacks, especially when you compare him to the fighters on our latest top five list here at Bodog.
Not everyone will agree with Ali taking the No. 1 spot, but this isn’t his late-career comeback attempt against Larry Holmes we’re talking about here. This is Ali’s first comeback from exile, after he was stripped of his heavyweight titles in 1967 for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. It would be three years before Ali was allowed to lace up the gloves again.
This comeback story had its twists and turns. After defeating Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena, Ali lost to Joe Frazier in 1971 via unanimous decision, in what was billed as the Fight of the Century. He would have to settle for the lesser NABF title – which Ali would lose to Ken Norton before taking it back in their rematch – until 1974, when he knocked out George Foreman as the +400 underdog at the Rumble in the Jungle. Ali transcended the sport and beyond, and not only is his the best boxing comeback of all time – it’s the stuff of dreams
Sugar Ray Robinson
Still widely considered the greatest pound-for-pound boxer of all-time, Robinson had already accomplished just about everything the sport has to offer when he retired in 1952, after his heat-induced loss to Joey Maxim at Yankee Stadium. So he tried to break into the entertainment business instead.
Despite the help of his good friend, Frank Sinatra, Robinson’s new career was going nowhere. He resumed training in 1954 and was soon back in the ring, where he eventually knocked out Bobo Olson in December 1955 to once again become the middleweight champion.
Sugar Ray Leonard
Unlike Robinson and Ali before him, Leonard was forced out of the ring by an injury; he retired in 1981 after beating Thomas Hearns for the WBA welterweight title in one of the greatest matches ever – a match that left Leonard with a swollen left eye. Then he quickly came back in 1982, only to learn that he had suffered a partially-detached retina.
There would be one more unsuccessful comeback attempt after that in 1984, then Leonard gave it one more try in 1987 against Marvin Hagler, where he stunned the world by defeating Hagler via split decision for the WBC middleweight title, this time as a +300 underdog.
Leonard retired and came back a couple more times after that, ending his career in 1997 with a loss to Hector Camacho, but like Ali, we’re not counting that against him for our top five list. This is all about one moment in boxing history that was well worth the wait, and the road that Leonard took to get there makes his one of the true best boxing comebacks.
Speaking of which, Foreman had his own series of retirements and comebacks, starting in 1977 when he joined the ministry after claiming to have a near-death experience following his loss to Jimmy Young. It took 10 years for Foreman to start boxing again; now on the cusp of 40, he was considered something of a joke, out of shape and fighting tomato cans every month or two while plugging his George Foreman Grill on television.
There was more to it than that. Foreman’s conditioning improved, at least somewhat, and so did his level of competition. It all led to a title shot against Evander Holyfield in 1991, which Foreman lost by unanimous decision, but he didn’t stop there; Foreman (+200) went on to knock out Michael Moorer in 1994 and claim the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles at age 45.
Fury has made a name for himself with comebacks in individual matches – like his most recent win over Wilder. But Fury made a larger comeback in 2018 when he returned from a series of injuries and failed drug tests that derailed his career.
After nearly three years away from the ring, Fury finally got his act together and was given back his boxing licence. He would go on to face Wilder for the first time in December 2018, a fight that saw Fury rise from the canvas in the 12th and final round to salvage a split draw. Fury completed his comeback in February 2020 by taking the WBC strap off Wilder in their first rematch, but something tells us this story isn’t over just yet.
Boxing Betting with Crypto
Now that Wilder is about to start climbing the heavyweight ladder again as he bids to create history and join our list of best boxing comebacks, it’s time to hit the boxing odds at Bodog Sportsbook. If you’re not using cryptocurrency yet to place your wagers, you’re missing out. Crypto (including Bitcoin, Ethereum and all the other digital coins we accept at Bodog) is easily the best way to get your money down on your favourite fighters. You also get super-sized bonuses when you bet with crypto, so check out our Bitcoin video tutorials to find out more, and enjoy Saturday’s big card at Barclays.