NO, it’s not the Wilder most boxing fans want to see doing his thing in a British ring, but, even so, there will be some excited by today’s announcement that Marsellos Wilder, younger brother WBC heavyweight champion Deontay, will make his UK debut at London’s O2 Arena on February 23.
His confirmed appearance comes following yesterday’s news of a heavyweight fight between Joe Joyce and former titleholder Bermane Stiverne and serves to add another interesting angle to a show topped by the super-middleweight grudge match between James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr.
The latest Wilder is a 29-year-old cruiserweight with two knockouts from three pro victories and, like his brother, is already gaining a reputation for heavy hands and a love of the knockout. He fights for a fourth time this Saturday (January 26) in Brooklyn, when he faces Will Florentino on a PBC show headlined by the return of WBA World welterweight champion Keith Thurman against Josesito Lopez, and will then tread a similar path to that of his brother, who stopped former Olympic champion Audley Harrison in Sheffield, England nearly five years ago.
“I feel super-duper blessed,” said Wilder the second. “I’m grateful to get this ultimate experience to be able to go to another country and showcase my talents to another culture. I’m going to give it my all and give it my best for the fans in the UK and represent the U.S.
“It’s going to be great to have my brother, who is the Heavyweight Champion of the World, able to watch me perform in the UK. It brings me a lot of motivation and pride to be able to perform in the UK and represent our last name. That’s amazing.”
His brother, meanwhile, aware of the current popularity of boxing in Britain, is right behind the move.
“I think it’s a grand deal for him to be able to display his talent before the UK fans,” said the current WBC heavyweight champion. “Boxing is very popular there. It’s going to be fun to be able to root him on. It’s going to be good for him to get that experience outside of the U.S. I’m very excited for him. I’m looking forward to coming over there and being with the fans and to show support for that fact that we’re teamed with ITV and we’ll be doing PBC shows there.”
Well, one Wilder is better than no Wilders, I suppose.
It has been nearly two years since we last saw WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman doing what he does best – fighting in a boxing ring – and now, with a fight against Josesito Lopez set for this Saturday, he’s eager to make up for lost time.
The hard-hitting 30-year-old has been riddled by injuries in recent times and hasn’t boxed since beating Danny Garcia via split-decision in March 2013. During this period away, he has watched IBF champion Errol Spence emerge as a dominant force in his division, and kept tabs on Terence Crawford, the new WBO champion, who found little difficulty rising from super-lightweight to welterweight and locating gold.
Suddenly, as he prepares to come back, Thurman, 28-0 (22), has a fresh batch of champions to put in their place.
“When I’m outside of the ring, I’m not the jealous type watching other people perform, but I feel better when I’m here living out my dream,” he told the media ahead of Saturday’s bout with Lopez. “These past weeks, I have just felt so good. I feel fantastic and ready to perform. I’m going to be an active fighter and one of the best welterweights in the world today.
“My ranking, my ‘0’ and my accomplishments haven’t gone anywhere. I’ve been out of sight and out of mind for a little, but I’m back now. You can’t block a star from shining. We’re in the galaxy and shining bright.
“I’m definitely interested in a big unification fight with Errol Spence Jr. When I first met Errol at MGM Grand years ago, I told him that it’s nice to meet him and I can’t wait to get in there and scrap it out. I’m humble, but I’m also honest. I’m a man of my word. It doesn’t matter how many years ago I said it. From that day to this day, it’s a true statement.”
As exciting as Errol Spence and Terence Crawford have made the division in recent months, it’s good to have ‘One Time’ Thurman back. He has been missed. He will be needed.