Deontay Wilder is the heavyweight champion of the world, with a perfect record, and there is a great chance you had no clue about either fact.
Last week, Wilder spoke to the juniors and seniors of Arlington Bowie High School in its auditorium, and one young man was so excited at the champ’s arrival he slept through most of his speech. The kid was dead asleep even though he was sitting in the second row, and Wilder’s speech was loud enough to be heard outside of the auditorium.
That’s how far boxing has fallen in this country.
“I want to bring it back to the golden days of boxing,” Wilder said in an interview following his speech. “It has not been back since 2004 with Lennox Lewis. Everyone knows that as the heavyweight division goes, so goes boxing.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
A boxer saying he wants to “bring back the golden days of boxing” feels like a phone manufacturer who wants to bring back the beeper.
Wilder is 40-0-1 in his career, and said he will fight Tyson Fury this year. And then he wants Anthony Joshua.
Don’t worry that you are not totally familiar with either name. They’re both Brits. Just know that both fights are good for boxing, because both are fights you would want to watch.
“We still have a bit more to go but the fight is definitely going to happen,” Wilder said of his rematch with Fury. “It should be announced very, very soon. The only reason it would not is if their side backs out. As of today, everything is 100 percent ready to go.”
Boxing needs more of Deontay Wilder versus Tyson Fury, and less of Floyd Mayweather versus Spare Bum in Southeast Asia at 2 a.m.. Or Manny Pacquiao versus Old Washed Up Guy Looking For a Check.
WILDER VS. FURY II
For those of you who did watch, Wilder’s first fight with Fury in Dec. ‘18 was exactly what boxing needs. The fight went 12 rounds, and Wilder knocked Fury down twice.
Ultimately, the fight was a split decision.
A sequel to Wilder/Fury is good for the sport.
If Wilder wins, Joshua needs to be his next opponent.
Wilder is not a classic heavyweight fighter - he’s a bit of a wild swinger - but he has consistently shown he will fight anyone. And he has yet to lose. After 40 fights, that has to be worth something.
“I am willing to fight him. This is not us; they know what we want,” Wilder said. “If we can’t come to agreement there will be no fight. I’m moving on with my career. I can’t wait around.”
This is why boxing remains stuck in its niche phase. These guys should be lined up to fight each other. Instead, promoters and agents and handlers all refuse to do what’s best for the sport.
It’s why Mayweather didn’t fight Pacquiao until both were past their prime, in 2015. When they did fight, the product was trash.
“The world knows I tried (to fight Joshua),” Wilder said. “They are trying to milk the people in the United Kingdom. But after the next fight, I’m willing and I am ready. I’m always ready. There will be one champion, and there will be one face. He goes by the name of Deontay Wilder.”
That is some quality, old-school boxing trash talking and woofing.
THE RETURN OF THE AMERICAN HEAVYWEIGHT
People who follow boxing will watch any weight class, but the only way everyone watches boxing is if it’s a heavyweight. The only way people in America watch heavyweight boxing is if he is an American.
The heavyweight division, in this country, has been dead since around the time Evander Holyfield lost a chunk of his ear to Mike Tyson.
Those are the last two American heavyweights that the American public knew on sight.
Wilder is not Iron Mike or Holyfield, but he gets why people are drawn to the sport.
“The heavyweight division is the most serious division because of the power. The repercussions of a punch,” he said. “The head is not meant to be hit in the first place. You are crazy to sign up to do this.
“I am a knockout artist and that’s why people come to watch a fight. They want to see knockouts. I know how to knock anyone out.”
He has 39 times. By any metric undefeated with 39 KOs is impressive.
The trouble, in the U.S., is for more than a decade the heavyweight division has been run by guys from Russia, Syria, Australia, Uzbekistan, South Africa and the Ukraine. Even Canada. How does Canada have a legit heavyweight champ but we don’t?
It’s Canada. I get hockey, or women’s figure skating, but boxing?
American sports fans don’t care about this sport unless the champ is an American.
That has been true from Jack Johnson to Ali to Foreman to Frazier to Tyson.
“No. 1, being in America has been a challenge,” Wilder said. “American (heavyweights) don’t get that shine the way they used to. Being here it’s been difficult to get that exposure and excitement back into boxing. It hasn’t been that way since Lennox Lewis fought (Vitali) Klitschko in 2004. The whole division crumbled. That’s how Floyd got his shine, and he fought (Oscar) De La Hoya and his career bloomed.
“I’m telling you right now this division is stronger than ever. I’m glad to be a part of the movement. We are all a family, and I can’t wait for the Fury fight.”
Maybe if Wilder wins Americans will wake up and recognize the heavyweight champion of the world is an American, and he goes by the name of Deontay Wilder.