For an individual that picked up boxing at the age of 19, perhaps the urge to rush Deontay Wilder into a fight with Wladimir Klitschko should be tempered a bit.
Many fighters who started lacing up the gloves before they learned to ride a bike haven’t come close to accomplishing what the 29-year-old known as “The Bronze Bomber” has since he started boxing in 2005. In ten short years Wilder has won an Olympic bronze medal, amassed an immaculate record of 34-0 with 33 wins coming by way of knockout and is the reigning WBC heavyweight champion.
But since he won that title in a stellar performance against Bermane Stiverne in January, critics have started to lose their patience with Wilder. A fight against unheralded Eric Molina followed in June – where Wilder showed some vulnerability before scoring the 9th round KO in front of his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama – and his upcoming fight with another virtual unknown in Johann Duhaupas on September 26 have drawn the ire of fans who want Wilder to step into the ring with Klitschko sooner rather than later.
“The only thing that people have to do is one of the most difficult things in the world: have patience,” Wilder said. “I can’t fight all the top guys in the heavyweight division one right after the other because the division is too small. I’ll run out of fighters and people will still complain because once I’m at the top all that will be left are mediocre guys. It’s a lose-lose situation.”
As fast as Wilder has climbed the ladder, the expectation is for Wilder to never slow down. But the WBC champion still has some areas in his game to sure up before he faces Klitschko and the fight against Duhaupas in the headliner of PBC on NBC will be used as another tune up bout.
“I’m comfortable with the way my career has gone,” Wilder said. But he’s heard the critics of his opposition loud and clear. Especially those that were skeptical of Wilder after the trouble he had with Molina in his last fight. “In boxing, once you go past the first couple of rounds, you’re going to get hit. That’s just part of the game. But I’ll pay any kind of money to sit front row to see if any of my critics would get in the ring and compete on a high level.”
Wilder isn’t necessarily bitter, he just wants people to understand that he’s come a long way in a short time and will eventually become the king of the division like everyone expects him to be.
“I’ve been telling people for years that I’m the right man for this job and will do what no man in this sport has done before,” Wilder said. Keenly aware that the vacancy at the top left by Floyd Mayweather is ripe for the taking, the 6-foot-7 heavyweight with dynamite in both hands and an engaging personality believes that he’ll be sitting in the throne that Mayweather has kept warm for all these years. But in order to be considered as the best in the business, he’s going to have to take down the man who has ruled the heavyweight division with an iron fist for the last decade.
“If you ask me when we will fight the first thing that comes into my head is maybe late September of 2016,” Wilder said when asked if he had an idea when the biggest fight that can be made in the heavyweight division would happen. “I don’t know why that month keeps popping in my head but that’s enough time for us to get our mandatories out of the way and make for a hell of a fight next year.”
But first, Wilder will have to take care of business against Duhaupas in front of his hometown fans on national television. If he looks like the Wilder that has annihilated opponents in a manner that is reminiscent of Mike Tyson, there will be a lot of casual fans hitching their trailer to his bandwagon. Wilder says he feels no pressure to perform but knows how far a stellar performance will go for his career. In his mind, it’s only a matter of time before he becomes the biggest name in boxing.
“I am the next great fighter in this sport that will fill the shoes of Floyd Mayweather now that he’s retired,” he said. “I’m going to fill them fully and so tight that I might get corns on my feet because the shoe is gonna bust.”