Wilder has knocked out all 29 of the opponents he has faced in his professional career (Photo courtesy of the Bomb Squad).
Written by John Archibald, Resolution Sports
Nearly 23 years have passed since former world heavyweight champion “Iron” Mike Tyson fought in Atlantic City, a one-round destruction of Alex Stewart just two contests after his shocking loss to Buster Douglas. This Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City will get a glimpse at arguably the most devastating puncher to enter the division since Tyson when Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder looks for his 30th knockout victory in 30 professional fights.
“Training has been great, man,” said Wilder, who will meet Nicolai Firtha (21-10-1, 8 KOs) as part of a card that features IBF Light Heavyweight Champion Bernard Hopkins defending his belt against Karo Murat in the main event. “I love fight camps. Training has been intense. I have a lot of great people around me, as far as in the gym and with my strength trainer (Peter Khoury), who is one of the best strength trainers in the world. I love my job. I love boxing. I can’t see myself doing anything else in life but boxing.”
Wilder has knocked out 17 of his 29 opponents in the first round, and only two men who have stepped into the ring with him have seen the fourth frame. The Alabama native, who was the last American male boxer to win an Olympic Medal (2008 Bronze) has needed just 49 total rounds to get rid of his 29 professional opponents, yet he has still been showing steady progression as a fighter.
“I consider myself a professional. If you’re a professional, that means you know what you’re doing,” he stated. “You’re doing things other people can’t do. That’s why you’re a professional, and that’s why it’s your profession. I love it, though. Many people have doubted me throughout my entire career. It goes even farther beyond that, actually. People have doubted me my whole life. People have doubted me, saying I can’t do this or I can’t do that. The greatest reward in life is proving people wrong, not by words of mouth but by showing with actions. Every time people have doubted me, I haven’t had to speak or defend myself with words. My actions spoke louder than anything. That’s what I do as a professional. When people doubt me or say I can’t do something, I go in the ring and show them every time. It will be like that until we get where we’re looking to go, and that’s to be heavyweight champion of the world.”
While his detractors may jump at every opportunity to spit fire in his direction, all Wilder has done meanwhile is steamroll up the heavyweight rankings and made sure to always credit those individuals who have stood by his 6-foot-7 frame.
“I have a great team, great management, great promotional team and a great advisor,” he remarked. “They’ve all been doing their jobs. They’ve been putting guys in front of me to fight who have been increasing my ranking. You know the saying. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. They’re moving me up. A lot of people don’t agree with who I’ve been fighting, but it’s just because (pausing between words) I-make-fights-look-so-easy! I make them look so easy that people start saying ‘Ah, he’s a bum. He must be a bum.’ He wasn’t a bum when this guy fights him, but when Deontay Wilder fights him, all of a sudden he’s a bum because I finish him so fast. But it’s all good. If we weren’t moving up the rankings, then there would be something wrong. I’d have to get my team together and say ‘Hey, man. We have to do something about this. I’m not moving up.’ Every time I fight, I move up the rankings, though. I couldn’t ask for a better team, and we’re just ready to take over the world.”
In addition to the title defense by Hopkins in the feature bout on Saturday night, a second world championship fight is also on tap when WBO Middleweight Titleholder Peter Quillin defends against Gabriel Rosado. Being on a packed card that is being headlined by a pair of world title bouts is something that adds extra excitement to the evening for Wilder, who is also making his East Coast debut.
“It’s always great to fight on a big card,” Wilder confirmed. “I’m excited about coming to the East Coast to fight. I’m headed to the heart of New Jersey. Atlantic City, baby! I’m looking forward to giving my East Coast people a glimpse of me. Those who have not gotten to see me fight are now getting the opportunity. I think it’s going to be a great crowd, and I’m going to build a lot of fans come the night of the 26th. I think I’m going to get a lot of people on board with the Bomb Squad Movement, that’s for sure. I’m just excited. Like I said, I love doing my job. I’m blessed to have the talent to be able to box, a job where I wake up and love to go to work. A lot of people in the world don’t get the opportunity to do what they love as a profession. I count my blessings every day that I get to do that.”
In terms of what all spectators can expect on Saturday night, Wilder says they can anticipate seeing exactly what they have become accustomed to seeing every time that he steps between the ropes.
“Fight fans, supporters, people who have been with me since day one. My haters, people who don’t believe in me. They can all expect the same thing that they have gotten out of the first 29 fights of my career. They can definitely expect… a knockout! That’s what they come to see. When they’re putting on their nice clothes, whether it’s a suit or a dress, they’re trying to see somebody get knocked the ‘F’ out. When you’re dealing with Deontay Wilder, you can expect to not be disappointed for coming to the show. I never go in there with the mind frame to try and knock a guy out. I just let my God given abilities and skill speak for themselves.”
Similarly to how Tyson erupted onto the scene in the 1980’s, Wilder himself looks to stay on the same path that would ultimately return the American heavyweight to prominence in the sport of boxing.
“I definitely want to bring back excitement to the heavyweight division, and I’m definitely going to do that,” Wilder exclaimed. “You talk about Mike Tyson, and he was somebody who was known for knocking somebody out. That’s how he got his big name and why people were drawn to him. They didn’t know in which round he was going to knock him out, but they knew Mike was going to knock somebody out. Now people are feeling the same way about me. People don’t know when I’m going to knock him out, but they know within the first four rounds, somebody is going to get knocked out.”
With just 49 rounds of professional experience, many wonder what Wilder would look like in deep waters. The heavyweight wrecking ball feels that anyone who has concerns about that scenario would be more than impressed to find out what happens under those circumstances.
“I may want to get some rounds in, but I’ll never try to carry anybody. I’m never going to do that,” he concluded. “It would be nice to go 5-6 rounds just to prove to people what I can do. They would find out that when Deontay goes past four rounds, he gets even better. The best way an opponent could get to me would be to get to me early. If you don’t get to me early and let the rounds go, you’ll find that I get even better when the rounds get a little deeper. My muscles start to relax. I start to get more comfortable. I start to put more combinations together. I’m even more dangerous as the rounds go, but people don’t know that.”
The Hopkins-Murat card will air live on Showtime beginning at 9:00 p.m. EST, with Wilder vs. Firtha opening the broadcast.