Wilder, manager Jay Deas and Golden Boy Promotions Vice President Eric Gomez all confirmed the fighter’s presence on the Showtime card, which will also feature a rematch between WBC super middleweight titleholder Sakio Bika and Anthony Dirrell, as well as a defense by WBC lightweight beltholder Omar Figueroa Jr. against Daniel Estrada.
“This year was one of the first times where I haven’t been too active,” said Wilder. “By this time, I’ve usually had more fights but this is only going to be my second fight of the year. We’re don’t look past anybody. You have to take everybody seriously.”
Wilder (31-0, 31 knockouts) and Deas said a potential opponent is 39-year-old Mike Sheppard (21-17-1, 9 KOs), who has lost five of his past six fights, four by stoppage. Sheppard was last in action for last month’s unanimous decision loss to China Smith.
“Mike Sheppard is not confirmed yet but that is one of the names that has been mentioned. There’s several names out there and he’s one of them but we’re not exactly sure who it will be,” said Deas.
“But this is not a stay-busy [fight]. Absolutely not. It is not a stay-busy fight; it is not a tune-up. It is not a warm-up; it is not a knock-the-rust-off. It is the most important fight of his career.”
Also on the card is former titleholder Jorge Linares, who was last in action for a unanimous decision over Japan’s Nihito Arakawa in March. Linares has won five consecutive fights, three by stoppage, since being knocked out by Sergio Thompson in the second round in March of 2012.
A 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, Wilder is coming off a 96-second knockout of Malik Scott in a WBC eliminator bout in March. The win made him the mandatory challenger to face WBC beltholder Bermane Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KOs) in a bout that is being targeted for November.
“If Deontay does not win this, then there is no Stiverne and there is no G.I. Joe with the Kung Fu grip for his daughters and there is no house on the lake and there is no college fund; there is no tuition being paid,” said Deas.
“There is no anything without this fight. This is clearly the most important fight of his life. There is no such thing as a tune-up when it comes to men over 200 pounds who are trying to hurt each other.”