Boxing loves a rare few back. Even the most popular fighters of all-time are seldom universally loved, and those that are hardly last that way. Even the most iconic figure in boxing history, Muhammad Ali, has a fair number of detractors.
But it doesn’t stop fighters from being in love with what they do, and WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder is a man in love with his craft.
“I’m excited about boxing,” said Wilder. “I’m in love with boxing. And I take it seriously. It’s on my mind constantly. They say you have to eat, breathe and sleep it, and I do all of the above. I’m just grateful to be able to compete on an elite level. I’m in love with the sport, so I’m ready to get in the ring each and every time. If the opponent is ready, if my challengers are ready, the champion is always ready.”
Wilder is coming off a Round 9 knockout win over Eric Molina in his home state of Alabama. He hailed the experience as the best of his career.
“I was happy to be able to have my very first title defense, and handle my title defense, in my home state. It was a wonderful feeling. The people responded well. It was a sold out arena. It was wonderful. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Wilder said when promoters leave Las Vegas and head to fighters’ backyards, the fans that come out to the fights are full of passion and the atmosphere is electric.
“They enjoy it. It makes it better for the sport and the fighters. When people are cheering that loud and having fun, they’re looking forward to the next one.”
Most pundits thought Wilder would knock Molina out during the first few rounds, but Wilder said he went into things anticipating a tough night and he got one. He said fighting for a title brings out the very best in people.
“If this was a regular fight, maybe that first knockdown would have been it for him, but he understood this was his opportunity, and maybe the only opportunity he would get in his career, so he was going to do his best to capitalize on it.”
Ultimately, Wilder was too strong and too skilled for the crafty Molina.
“I told people he was going to be tough because I read him as a fighter. I didn’t see fear in him. I saw nervousness as far as him being out of his element…but I didn’t see fear. He proved me right, and he proved a lot of people wrong about him. It made it great. And it was great for my state so they could see me go nine rounds with a great opponent who came to fight and take away my title. So it all worked out great.”
While his next opponent has yet to be determined, Wilder’s next bout will be broadcast on PBC on NBC on September 26. Wilder is excited to be fighting on national television.
“I’m looking forward to PBC on NBC. That’s going to be great for me and my career.”
Wilder said he had a few fighters on his mind that he wants to face in the near future. He mentioned Lucas Browne and Czar Glaskoz by name. Browne particularly has gotten under Wilder’s skin.
“I don’t listen to too much smack, but sometimes people can get on your nerves. I’m a type of person that believes in opportunities, especially if you’ve done enough, and you’re in the rankings to do so, now I want to pull your card.”
Wilder would love a bout against Browne. He mentioned it as possible for September 26, but recent reports have suggested it will be someone else. Still, Wilder seems intent on getting Browne in the ring sometime soon.
“I have a couple guys in mind. I want to pull their card just to get them out of the way. We got a lot of man crush guys—guys that have man crushes on me. Every word they speak in boxing, they have my name in their mouth. I think they go to sleep with my name in their mouth. I think they might even pray, and after their prayer, they probably speak of me. I’m about tired of it. I hear it, and I’m ready to pull some cards to give fans the fights they want to see. I want a tough fight each and every time.”
Wilder suggested Browne doesn’t really believe he can defeat Wilder, but just wants the fight for monetary reasons.
“I’m looking at Lucas Browne. I want to shut his bald-head mouth shut. And man, he’s the man, because he has a man crush on me. I think he’s just looking for the opportunity, for the money part of it. To be honest, he’s a guy that came up out of a garage and stuff like that. Most of those guys are going to look at me as an opportunity for them to try and make a little bit of money. So I want to pull his card. He may be my next opponent.”
Of course, the fight most people are interested in seeing Wilder take is against his No. 1 contender according to the WBC, Alexander Povetkin. The former titleholder looked better than ever in last bout when he annihilated Mike Perez in just one round. To his credit, Wilder said he expects to fight Povetkin by the end of the year.
“Hopefully, that fight can happen this year–definitely this year. We’re looking to go into negotiations around October and maybe we can have [that fight] in December.”
And how would Wilder be ready to step in against the best fighter he has ever faced in such a fast turnaround after an end of September date? Easy. The man’s in love with what he does.
“I’m always ready. I’m always training. I love boxing.”