Heavyweight knockout specialist Deontay Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., “will be on” the undercard of Bernard Hopkins’ IBF light heavyweight title defense against Karo Murat “for sure” on Oct. 26 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer informed RingTV.com.
“I’m a world champion. I’m looking forward to coming to anybody’s city,” said Wilder, a 6-foot-7 2008 Olympic bronze medalist who is trained by co-manager Jay Deas and 1984 Olympic gold medalist and former welterweight titleholder Mark Breland. “It doesn’t matter to me where I am, whether it’s in West, East, North or South, you know? Because I like to travel. It ain’t no difference anywhere else.”
Wilder served as a sparring partner for former heavyweight titleholder David Haye before his clash with unbeaten 6-foot-9 contender Tyson Fury was postponed after Haye suffered a cut during his final day of sparring on Friday, Sept. 19.
“David was a little rusty, but when he got into the gym, he really wanted to get into shape. After the days went by, he started to get better,” said Wilder. “That’s why I’m kind of disappointed that the fight didn’t happen when it was supposed to because I really wanted to see what the outcome would have been.”
Wilder, who was not the partner who caused the cut for Haye, gave his view on Haye-Fury, which has been rescheduled for Feb. 8.
“I always felt that David had some problems with taller guys,” said Wilder. “But I felt that, being that he has some speed, that he would have been able to get past Tyson Fury. I think that if he doesn’t get the knockdown, then David Haye definitely gets the decision.”
Haye (26-2, 24 KOs) was last in the ring for a fifth-round knockout of Dereck Chisora in July, and Fury (21-0, 15 KOs) rose from a second-round knockdown to stop Steve Cunningham in the seventh round in April.
Fury also had to rise from being floored in the second-round of a third-round stoppage victory over light-hitting Neven Pajkic (17-1, 5 KOs) in November of 2011.
“You look at the point that every time Tyson Fury fights somebody good, he finds himself on the canvas, even though he has gotten up. So I look at the Cunningham fight, and I always told David that if David touches Fury like Cunningham did, there probably ain’t no getting up for him,” said Wilder.
“The thing about David, he’s so much more experienced in the ring where he wouldn’t have allowed Tyson to lean on him or to do the things that he did with Cunningham. David would have done different little things, or had tricks or a trick. There are things that he knows how do to get through.”
Wilder celebrated his 27th birthday last Oct. 22 in Austria while spending time as the primary sparring partner for RING, IBF, WBA and WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko as he trained for his unanimous decision victory over Mariusz Wach in November of last year.
Wilder had served in a similar capacity for Haye leading up to his unanimous decision loss to Klitschko in July of 2011.
“When you’re sparring with world class people, it’s always good. You’re going to give them your best, and they’re going to give you their best,” said Wilder. “So, it’s always good. You’re always going to gain something from it, whether you get the best of that person, or they get the best of you. It’s always good.”
Schaefer indicated that part of the idea of bringing Wilder to the East Coast was to piggyback on the attention gained there by Maryland-based heavyweight Seth Mitchell, who is 2-1 in Atlantic City after having stopped Chazz Witherspoon there and split bouts with Johnathon Banks. Mitchell lost his last fight by first-round stoppage to Chris Arreola on Sept. 7 in California.
“In boxing, it’s always the little things, just like in the Arreola-Mitchell fight,” said Wilder. “If Seth Mitchell had more experience in the ring as far as knowing what to do in situations like the one that he was in, I think that it would have been a whole different fight for him.”
Meanwhile, Wilder has begun focusing on a title run, particularly that of WBC beltholder Vitali Klitschko, a 42-year-old who may be nearing retirement. Vitali Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs) was last in the ring for a fourth-round stoppage of Manuel Charr on Sept. 8 of last year.
“It’s interesting for me to see what Vitali’s going to do, because if he’s going to make that cut, then I definitely want to be one of the guys who fights for that spot. I think that they’re trying to position me into being in that spot right there. It’s looking more likely that I would get a shot at that vacant belt. So we’re aiming for a shot at the title some time during the early part of next year, man,” said Wilder.
“It’s full throttle. I’m more focused than ever, and it’s about my time. We’re in agreement with my advisor, my manager. Everybody’s ready. These next couple of months should definitely be interesting in the heavyweight division, especially with the opponents and stuff like that. I think that you’re definitely going to see me as one of those guys fighting for that belt, for sure.”
Photo courtesy of Deontay Wilder.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]