As Deontay WIlder prepares for his February 25 return, he casts his eye over the progress of the division and gives his verdict on Joshua-Klitschko
DEONTAY WILDER is ready to unleash his healed right hand upon the heavyweight division after recovering from injury. The WBC champion – reportedly returning to action in his local Birmingham, Alabama against Poland’s Andrzej Wawrzyk on February 25
– has been watching the weight class closely after being injured during a one-sided July victory over Chris Arreola.
Wilder’s long term target remains unification, and he expects that process to start when he meets the winner of the April showdown between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko.
“Joshua is at the top level, and my heart tells me he will beat Klitschko,” Deontay Wilder told Boxing News
. “I still believe that father time is at Klitschko’s door but I think he still has a little bit left in him. It was an embarrassment that he got beat by Tyson Fury. You’re looking at a champion who ruled the division for a decade and all of a sudden you get a loss. Just describing it in my situation, being undefeated, if I had a loss my heart would go to my stomach so I imagine if I was champion for a decade? It would be the lowest feeling of the low.
“I think the fact Klitschko sparred ‘AJ’ before, and he wants redemption, we may see something. On the other hand, ‘AJ’ is young, strong and just as tall and most of the time in those situations the young guy prevails. Sometimes when you get dethroned, it’s best to stay away. The young guy is fresh, he’s studied you, he knows every move that you have. So you may think that you still have it, but your body and mind is too slow. It’s going to be an interesting fight. Overall, it’s good for the division, I’m glad this fight is happening, and make sure you all look forward to see me take on the winner.”
Wilder has been WBC king for almost two years, dethroning and outclassing Bermane Stiverne in January 2015, but has received criticism for the selection of his challengers since his coronation. Before thrashing Arreola, 31-year-old Wilder halted Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupass, and Artur Szpilka – three contenders largely unknown to the boxing public before they challenged the “Bronze Bomber”. And with Wawrzyk – originally rumoured as a Wilder opponent back in August – lined up for his fifth defence, Deontay could be set for a backlash again.
“I don’t believe ‘You’re going to suck because I don’t know you’, that’s just the ignorance of your average boxing fan,” Deontay Wilder responded. “Some of these fans feel like they got to have heard of the fighters or they got to be a known name – but sometimes you don’t know anything about the best fighters. If you look back from now until way back in time, most of the foreign guys you knew about until they made a big splash. Nobody knew who Manny Pacquiao was until he made a name for himself. I wish fans would stop criticising fighters because it takes a lot to get in the ring.”
“Overall the heavyweight division is looking good,” Wilder reported about the division’s recent progress.
“I had Andy Ruiz beating Joseph Parker, you got Luis Ortiz, they all got the capability. You got David Haye, they’re all great fighters. Suddenly everyone is looking nice, that’s the status of the heavyweight division right now, and that’s what keeps me training.
“People see me everywhere, but rest assured my mind has never left boxing, it never leaves the gym. I’ll be in my hotel room working on little things, working on my footwork.
“The scene has gotten hot now, everyone is hungry, everyone wants what you have. So you have to stay hungry, and one thing about me is through all my accomplishments, I’m still hungry because I haven’t finished my goal, and that is to be undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. I want to defend for a couple of years, and then after that, I’m out of here. I’ll give it to the rest of the guys that I watch on the way up, and I will cheer for them.
“There’s so many great guys in this division and I just thank God, that it’s finally alight.”