REGARDLESS of how it is packaged and presented, whenever a fighter says they plan on “killing” their opponent on fight night it’s rarely a comment well-received.
Insensitive, immature and cruel, it brings the sport into disrepute and, worse, comes with a horrible sense of foreboding. If, for example, the worst was to happen, what would be the reaction be then? How would the fighter responsible feel if their premonition came true?
Deontay Wilder, the WBC world heavyweight champion, has talked about killing Dominic Breazeale, his May 18 opponent, more than once in the build up to their fight. He has been asked if he regrets doing so and frequently said no. He has even gone so far as to explain the comments by taking his critics into the war room that is his mind.
“Not one bit of remorse, because this is boxing,” Wilder told the Daily Mail. “This is what we do. This is what we sign up for.
“People on the outside will never understand this sport. They will never understand what we have to go through and how we break our bodies down. We are fighting for our lives in the ring. Anything can happen. Your head is not meant to be hit in the first place. One little tap can end it all.
“You talk about me killing the guy (Breazeale)? If it happens, it happens. When you are dealing with a situation like this and it’s personal, I don’t mean well for him, nor does he mean well for me. So I speak truth. That’s why people love me till this day. Because I speak facts. I speak truth. I’m a realist and I speak how it is. I’m going to handle my business in the ring accordingly, I promise you that.”
Firstly, let’s get one thing straight: Wilder’s comments about killing an opponent are disgraceful and certainly cross the line of any sort of decency or so-called sportsmanship. He shouldn’t have made them nor should he stand by and be proud of them. Death occurs in boxing, more often than anyone would like, and never should the possibility of a boxer’s death be used as some sort of selling point or shock tool ahead of a so-so fight (or any fight for that matter). You don’t need to “understand this sport” to understand that.
That said, while the killing comments should be torn up, thrown away and ignored, Wilder’s explanation as to why he speaks in these terms should at least be heard, digested and, yes, understood. Because only a fool would dispute the American’s claim that fighters, deep down, are in the ring to hurt other human beings to avoid being hurt themselves and that what drives some of them – admittedly, not all of them – is a thirst for seeing an opponent flat on their back.
Boxing. The Sweet Science. The Noble Art. All are applicable, sure, but it’s ultimately head-punching with an emphasis on rendering another head-puncher unconscious. Some are just better at dressing it up than others. Some, like Wilder, take it to the extreme and suffer for being as unruly and open outside the ring as they are inside the ring on fight night. He’s certainly not right but he’s not exactly wrong, either.
Dereck Chisora has been around the block more than once and knows what it takes to be a decent heavyweight. He has fought some good ones. He has fought many more bad ones.
Oleksandr Usyk, the latest addition to Chisora’s division, is undoubtedly a good cruiserweight – a brilliant one, in fact – but it remains to be seen what sort of heavyweight he will become. Chisora, though, has a pretty good idea.
“Usyk will be a nightmare for everybody,” he said. “The moment he puts his weight on, he will be a nightmare. He has the punching power and the boxing skills. His movement will kill most heavyweights. I think to win with that guy you might have to foul him a little bit with a couple of low blows!”
Usyk, the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO king at cruiserweight, makes his heavyweight debut against former Chisora foe Carlos Takam in Maryland on May 25. Chisora, meanwhile, is out again this Saturday (April 20) in what should be a routine affair against Senad Gashi.
Should both men come through these tests unscathed, we could see a Usyk vs. Chisora fight later this year. So long as the price is right, of course.
“Is he holding hand luggage or a massive suitcase of money?” said the Finchley heavyweight. “I love fighting – whoever wants it can have it. We do the deal, we sign, we get ready for it, we fight. (Joseph) Parker or I might go to watch Usyk – I don’t mind having some of that. I just want to fight. Most people are scared of fighting but, if I could fight every week, I would do.”
With the heavyweight division as open and shallow yet somehow as lucrative as it has been for a while, why wouldn’t you?