EARLIER today (Friday July 26), a group of young amateur boxers from Fitzroy Lodge ABC in London received a visit from WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Speaking on behalf of the WBC Cares programme – a worldwide initiative set up to enable boxing to give back to society – the charismatic American gave a heartfelt motivational talk to those in attendance, within which he extolled the virtues of the sport.
After explaining to the youngsters how boxing can lead you on the right path in life and help you to achieve your dreams through hard work and dedication, Wilder later commented on the ugly side of the sport when sitting down with the media.
When asked about the reports that surfaced yesterday alleging that Londoner Dillian Whyte – the mandatory contender for Wilder’s WBC title – failed a drug test prior to his victory over Oscar Rivas last Saturday, the Alabama man did not hold back in his condemnation of performance-enhancing drug use in boxing.
“What are these fighters thinking, putting these drugs in their body?” Wilder questioned. “There are side effects – like the rage and being angry all the time. When they take drugs, they’re trying to advance to the top. But don’t cheat your way to the top. I guess some people will do anything to [earn money and] support their family.
“It’s everywhere. They’re testing positive here [in the UK], in America, everywhere. It doesn’t really matter where it is. I’ve had many ups and downs in my career due to guys testing positive for PEDS. I’ve lost a lot of money from it, so it’s a very touchy subject for me.
“This is a dirty game right here, but I have nothing to hide. What I do has been consistent. Over and over again, I’ve proved what I’m capable of doing without using PEDs. I’ve been tested over 20 times this year, so let the good times roll. I don’t have to worry about that.”
Focusing more directly on the allegations that have been levelled at Whyte, Wilder stated: “You’ve got to remember this is his second offence. What’s he going to blame it on this time? An energy drink?! I can’t wait to hear the excuse. Right now, they’re just trying to build an excuse.
“I know certain people have control over certain governing bodies. I know certain things are done behind closed doors – they try to cover it up. When that B sample comes back, it’s gonna get ugly before it gets better.
“It’s just disgusting that [Rivas’] team didn’t know [about the alleged failed test]. I think it’s the worst time for this information to come out because we’ve had two deaths in boxing [this week]. This is an emotional sport, so people are connected to the deaths of these fighters. This is a reality check – we’re risking our lives in there every time. I always say we risk our lives for other people’s entertainment.”
Wilder is of the opinion that, until the authorities get tougher on drug cheats, some fighters will continue to break the rules.
“When you commit a crime, the thrill of the situation is not to get caught,” Wilder said. “There’s no thrill in breaking the rules if you know you’re going to get caught. That’s what it is. If you look at a six-month ban, that’s just regular protocol. Most fighters fight every three to six months, so in banning someone for six months, there’s no justice. You’ve got to give them a stiffer ban. That’s how I look at it.
“I believe in second chances. I believe in giving people opportunities – especially fighters because we come from a poor situation. Boxing is our outlet – the way we can express ourselves, the way we can support our families. We’re all trying to draw that golden ticket. But if you get a second chance and do it again, that’s it. You should be banned for life.”
As well as having his say on the Whyte reports, Wilder also provided his view on another one of his heavyweight rivals from Britain – Anthony Joshua. After losing his WBA, IBF and WBO belts to Andy Ruiz Jnr in a monumental upset in New York in June, Joshua instantly declared his intention to pursue an immediate rematch with his conqueror, with the return bout likely to take place later on this year. Wilder, though, feels that Joshua could be making a severe mistake in going back in with Ruiz straightaway.
“It’s going to be very hard for Joshua now because he doesn’t even know why he lost,” Wilder stated. “He doesn’t even know what shots hit him. He went back to his corner and said, ‘What did I get hit with?’ That’s the wrong question to ask. When you’re a champion, you’ve got to learn on the job. Throughout my whole career, I’ve had to learn on the job, from the Olympics to professionally, I’ve had to learn on the job.
“I can’t blame it on his experience because every time you see him, he’s working out. He’s got all these people with him. He should be at the top of his game and he shouldn’t be going back to his corner and saying, ‘What did I get hit with?’ I feel he should have a warm-up fight [before facing Ruiz again].
“It’ll be a lot easier for me now [to defeat Joshua if a fight is ever made in the future]. I’ve been saying it for a while, Joshua’s mindset is not strong. He doesn’t have confidence in himself. He says he started lifting weights when he was younger because he didn’t have confidence in himself. He had low self-esteem. But looking the part and looking like you can do something doesn’t mean you can do it.”