Deontay Wilder is a world-class trash talker, but is he a world-class fighter? The undefeated heavyweight challenges WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne on Saturday night at the MGM in Las Vegas. The bout will air live on Showtime Championship Boxing.
Wilder has knocked out every opponent he’s faced so far in his professional career. If he does that to Stiverne, he might just be the next great American heavyweight.
And Wilder predicts exactly that to happen on Saturday.
“I’ve got so much power that it’s even scary for me. One thing I really feel is that I’m going to hit somebody, and it’s going to really hurt them. I think this fight is going to be the start of it, because I really want to hurt him. Like I said, I want to beat him to within an inch of his life. No, I don’t want to kill him, but I do want to beat him to the end of it. I want him to feel like he went there and then came back.”
Sheesh. This Wilder guy can talk.
But the 29-year-old can punch, too. He’s separated all 32 opponents from their senses since turning professional in 2008. I don’t care who you’re fighting. If you can knock 32 people in a row out, all within four rounds I might add, you can freaking punch.
Wilder won the 2008 Olympic bronze medal. He calls himself “The Bronze Bomber” and said his alter-ego is a knockout machine.
“On the outside, I’m Deontay Wilder. I’m calm, cool and collected. But on the inside, I’m the Bronze Bomber. He’s not in there to make friends. He’s in there to take somebody’s head off.”
Wilder said he knows how to transform from the nice guy he is outside of the ring to the ruthless mercenary he becomes once the bell rings. If you’ve watched Wilder fight in the past, you’ve seen him demolish his opponents seemingly at will, almost as if a switch goes off inside of him.
“I transform into something else, something not nice—something real evil. And when I win, I come back with that million dollar smile.”
Wilder is the likeable sort. Even though he says outrageous things, he does so with good humor. You can almost hear him smiling through the phone at you as he comes up with these crazy things.
But Stiverne doesn’t like him. When I talked to him a couple of months ago, he told me “trash belongs in the trash,” implying that both Wilder and his trash talk belong in the garbage can.
Whatever the case, Saturday’s fight is the most intriguing heavyweight battle in recent memory. Stiverne is an accomplished and battle-tested veteran who can punch. Wilder is a talented phenomenon who might be the next big thing in boxing.
Wilder dismissed the idea that he’s never been punched by someone with as heavy hands as Stiverne. He said he’s sparred with lineal champion Wladimir Klitschko, among others, and took shots from the world’s best on numerous occasions. He’s not worried about Stiverne’s power.
“This is the heavyweight division. All the heavyweights have power. There are just different levels of power. Not everybody is going to have that extremely explosive power.”
Wilder believes he has the kind of power and athleticism Stiverne has never seen and can’t prepare for.
“I think my level is at the top of it. Whatever power he has, I’m not intimidated by it. Look, I’ve been in the ring with some of the best guys in sparring and training camps and stuff like that. Whether he has power or not, that’s none of my concern. For one thing, you might have power, but you have to hit me. He’s going to find real soon that my athletic skills alone are going to win the fight.”
Wilder said his speed and movement will be too much for Stiverne. He said he’s been an athlete his entire life and that what he does in the ring on fight night cannot be recreated in the gym with sparring partners.
“He’s never, ever, ever been in the ring with a guy like me. They can’t train for me. Who do they have to train for me? They can’t. The only thing they can do is train for how to get knocked out and how to manage my height. There’s nobody out there like me. I’m different.”
It’s hard to tell just how good Wilder might be on film. He obviously has power, but he’s yet to be in a fight where his skill level was tested. He’s yet to show he’s a complete fighter simply because no one he’s faced has made him do so.
Wilder said that theories about how to beat him that are not based on any actual evidence.
“Even on video, you can’t really see anything because none of my fights have gone past four rounds. People think they can hit me on the chin and maybe I’ll go down. But these are all assumptions about me. You can’t prepare for the unknown. That’s the scariest part for [Stiverne] and his camp. How do you prepare for Deontay Wilder?”
It’s a fair question. He’s certainly an imposing physical specimen, and whatever one might believe about his boxing ability, there’s no doubt that he has concussive power.
Moreover, Wilder is always lean and muscular. Like former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, or current lineal champion Klitschko, Wilder takes boxing seriously and always remains in shape.
“One thing about me is that you’ll never find me out of shape. I’m in shape. I’m always at the gym. I consider the gym my job. It’s my nine-to-five. Most heavyweights only get to the gym when they have a fight coming up.”
Wilder said he was at the gym year-round and that Stiverne wasn’t the same type. He believes his dedication to staying in peak condition at all times will also give him an edge on fight night.
“I’ve heard many times, even from the people coaching him, that Bermane is a lazy guy.”
Man, this guy can trash talk. Wilder told me Stiverne would realize once they got in the ring together just how much trouble the WBC titlist had gotten himself into by taking the fight.
“But then it’s too late.”
And what of the naysayers, those who believe Wilder is only a world-class trash talker? That he doesn’t have the talent and ability to back up all these things he says?
“I’m super anxious! Come January 17, I’m looking forward to proving them wrong.”