Deontay Wilder is Questioning the Hearts of Other Heavyweights

The WBC heavyweight champion of the world, Deontay Wilder, stopped by Complex to talk about his fight Saturday and a future showdown with Anthony Joshua.

Deontay Wilder Complex Original Lead 2017
Complex Original

Deontay Wilder Complex Original Lead 2017

Deontay Wilder Complex Original Lead 2017

Deontay Wilder wasn’t supposed to fight Bermane Stiverne Saturday. But luck and Wilder haven’t exactly been synonymous with each other in 2017. So the WBC heavyweight champion of the world has to take a detour on the way toward the only goal that matters to him: unifying the heavyweight division.

The Bronze Bomber was supposed to fight Luis Ortiz in a clash of undefeated heavyweights. One of the sexier matchups the heavyweight division could make was going to feature two behemoths slugging it out. But the Cuban product was pinched for performance enhancing drugs in his urine—the third such opponent Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) was scheduled to face that ran afoul of drug testers—and a replacement had to be found ASAP. So Wilder took a mandatory rematch with the only man who has taken him the distance in his professional career as he continues to build toward a mega bout with Anthony Joshua, the IBO, WBA, and IBF heavyweight champion of the world. Fingers crossed it happens in 2018. But this is boxing we're talking about.

Wilder’s been talking about unification for years, dying to get his shot at world domination. One of the biggest talkers in boxing, who regularly backs it up, says he’s ready whenever Joshua is. He’s just not so sure Joshua is.

“I question the hearts of others,” says Wilder. “Are you willing to put up your record and your titles on the line like I am? Ain’t no doubt in my mind. Do you have confidence in yourself like I do?”

Joshua’s promoter in the UK, Eddie Hearn, says he’s ready. But their plan doesn’t include Wilder until later in 2018. So all Wilder can do is stew and take care of the competition in front of him Saturday night at Barclays Center (Showtime, 9 pm ET). Before his first fight since Feb. 25, the champ stopped by Complex to talk about his path toward unification, why his long layoff in 2017 has been a blessing, and why Canelo should have defeated GGG.

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

You’re back in Barclays Center, back in New York. You’re an Alabama guy. But what is about New York that has been such an attraction for you?
The thing I like about New York, especially when you have a talent, they don’t bullshit you. Of course it’s the media capital of the world. It’s a very diverse place. For that, I like it. A lot of people like boxing and when they see Deontay Wilder coming to fight they turn up. They know what they’re looking for and expecting out of a fight. And they want to see a knockout. And that’s what I do. 

You had the opportunity to fight in Russia that got canceled. Where else would you like to fight?
I’ve got a couple of places. I’ve got Africa on my list. I wouldn’t mind fighting in China. I wouldn’t mind fighting in India. India is big on boxing. Just some of the exotic places you don’t normally see. America just ain’t enough. America’s support system for their own is lacking. I just want to change that. If not for myself then for the other fighters that’s coming up. I look out for others that’s coming up. Just like my brother. He’s about to turn pro in the cruiserweight [division]. Things have been easier for him than i. I paved that road so it can be easier for him. Going forward, I want to do that for a lot of heavyweights. If it don’t happen to me, then when I’m going it sparks for the next generation. 

What steps need to be taken to do that?
Best fighting the best. They always say that’s it. People always love to see anything that looks competitive. Or looks like it’ll be a decent fight. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be the best fighting the best because somebody can have an impressive win over somebody else. Boxing is one of those things that is very funny when it comes to people because people are not very knowledgeable about it. Especially in America. In the UK, they’re really on their boxing. Even the kids, even the women can tell you about it.

You’ve had a long layoff in 2017. You didn’t really want it, but has that been trying because you’re a guy that likes fighting?
The only thing about that is I’m satisfied with the layoff because I’m able to rest my arm a little bit more. Now I feel like a totally different person When I first won the title I wasn’t even 100 percent going into that fight. As many fights as I’ve been in, I’ve gone into fights injured and I’m the only crazy person I know that would do something like that. I fought Chris Arreola, I broke my hand, tore by bicep, and had a third degree burn coming in. Who would do that? Who would risk themselves just to fight? But no regrets. I’m a warrior. Mentally, physically. I’ll fight in any condition.

Deontay Wilder Complex Original 2 2017

We’ve talked before about inching closer and closer to a unification bout. Are you getting more anxious as you take the steps to finally, finally make it happen in 2018?
Most definitely. I’ve said if Joshua do his part and then I have my fight, I know I’mma do my part, I don’t feel the peoples don’t want to see any other fight but me and him. It definitely will happen next year in my heart of hearts. I feel like it’s the year for unification. If not him, then it’s Parker. But it’s more likely him. They say they want the winner of my fight. But we’ll see. I think that’s going to be the ultimate key and goal for the heavyweight division is unifying. But I question the hearts of others. Are you willing to put up your record and your titles on the line like I am? Ain’t no doubt in my mind. Do you have confidence in yourself like I do?

When you helped on the broadcast of the Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko fight, did you see anything you hadn’t seen on tape?
There isn’t nothing that sparks my mind. I wasn’t surprised by anything. I think I shocked a lot of people just coming there. People wanted me to react a certain way but I didn’t feel the need to.

But why would they expect that from you?
When it comes to me and Joshua, that’s the fight people want to see. Anything that has to do with me and him, they want to see the preview. I’m not that type of person. He’s not that type of person. It would be so different if he was in America. Unfortunately, it’s good he’s from where he’s from to keep that buzz. Even when I go over there, they swarm me and I’m not even from there. I’m happy for them with what they’re doing, but listen, I can’t wait.

We all can't wait. But who would get your vote for fight of the year?
Man, there’s been so many good fights. Jeez. Joshua fight was pretty good, but I was thinking about the Danny Jacobs-GGG fight. That was a hell of a fight. What was significant about that fight is he’s been through all that. We’re good friends. 

Deontay Wilder Vertical Complex Original 2017

Who did you have winning GGG-Canelo?
I had Canelo winning, actually. For me, he threw the cleaner punches, the more cleaner power punches. GGG, he threw more punches. But I think Canelo was blocking a lot. It was a damn good fight. When you have a fight and people are indecisive in who won, you can settle for a draw in a fight like that. But in reality, nobody wants to see a draw in a fight of that magnitude. Somebody wants to celebrate at the end of the day.

Have you ever seen a scorecard like that?
The first thing that came to mind was scam. With a fight like that, of course it’s going to sell again. Easy. 

Was Mayweather-McGregor good for boxing?
Not for boxing. Well, I would say depends on what type of fan you are. You had your hardcore fans, your casuals, the people who don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. For me, I feel like it depends on what type of person you are to the sport. Because I’m a die-hard fan. If it wasn’t for one of my brothers hosting it at his restaurant, I would have never watched it. But, that’s another money scam. I bet they high-fived in the back.

Do you remember cashing your first professional check?
I remember cashing it. I remember putting it in the bank. I always think about that. Damn, how much was my first check? Probably cleared $1,600. I manage my money well. I’ve come a long way. I’m about thinking it, speaking it. Your words are powerful. Everything I have I’ve spoken it. I visualized it. I saw myself doing it. It’s the law of attraction. I’m a very positive person, I’m an inspiring person. I motivate other people. I like to surround positive people around me. If you’re negative, you’re not going to be around. I can’t have it.

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