|Deontay Wilder wants big time Heavyweight Boxing back in America - Interview
By Rob Tierney (April 1, 2010) Doghouse Boxing
On March 20th, approximately 51,000 people piled into the ESPRIT Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany to witness Wladimir Klitschko's latest destruction of an American contender. It was an enormous night for European fight fans and boxing enthusiasts around the globe who were fortunate enough to see Klitschko's championship defense. Still, unlike European fans who were provided an opportunity to view Klitschko's 12th round derailment of US contender Eddie Chambers, American fans were abandoned.
In the States, the fight went virtually unnoticed due to the fact that HBO, Showtime, ESPN and virtually every other US network decided to neglect coverage. As a result, some US fans watched on the internet for $14.99 while others waited for numerous websites to post the results. However, one US citizen was motivated to make a difference.
If American fans felt disenfranchised by the lack of US coverage, they weren't alone. United States 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist Deontay Wilder also felt the sting. However, unlike his fellow American fans who continue to feel a sense of hopelessness about the state of Heavyweight Boxing in America, Wilder is in a position to do something about it. After interviewing Deontay on March 25th, I learned of his plan of action to bring big time Heavyweight boxing back to America one impressive victory at a time and it starts this upcoming weekend on Showtime.
RT: Good Afternoon Deontay, how has preparation been coming along for your upcoming fight on April 2nd?
DW: Training's been great. Everything has been coming along just fine. My training has been much more focused now that I know who I am fighting.
RT: Do you know who you will be fighting yet?
DW: Yes, right now it looks like a fighter named Tye Cobb. He is 7 & 1.
RT: Do you have any tapes of him?
DW: No, we tried but we couldn't find anything. However, I am not a guy who usually studies tapes. I just know that if I go hard everyday in training that I will be able to adapt to anything that he could bring my way.
RT: It looks like you could be getting some airtime on cable TV. How does knowing that you could possibly be aired on Showtime next weekend affect your mindset for this fight?
DW: It feels great. This would be my Showtime debut and I know that first impressions are everything. I'm looking forward to it.
RT: Last weekend, the IBF & WBO Heavyweight Championship Titles were at stake when Wladimir Klitschko fought Eddie Chambers in Germany. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough interest in the United States to bring the fight to US television. Most experts chalked this up to the fact that Klitschko and his brother are not US born and American fans have become disinterested in their fights. What went through your mind when you heard the news that the Heavyweight Championship of the World would not be televised on American television?
DW: It made me sad because I am a Heavyweight and this is my division. To me being the Heavyweight Champion of the World is one of the top three things that a person can be. Everybody was forced to watch the fight on the internet. I want to bring boxing back to the days of Tyson when everybody can follow the division.
RT: How do you plan on doing that Deontay?
DW: I feel so confident in myself. I know that I am going to be Heavyweight Champion of the World someday. I just have to keep on being Deontay and one day my time will come.
RT: How important is it for the sport of Boxing to produce a legitimate American Heavyweight Contender right now?
DW: Most people in the United States do not even know who the Heavyweight Champion of the World is right now. That is sad. This could be part of the reason that the Klitschko fight was not available on TV.
RT: A lot of experts believe that the real challenge behind defeating the Klitschko's right now is the fact that both Wladimir and Vitali are about 6 foot 6 and therefore virtually out of reach for most American Heavyweights who struggle to reach them. Considering that you have guys like Nicolay Valuev in the division who measure out at about 7 foot 2, it makes it difficult for most US contenders to compete in this division. I am sure you have heard the phrase "pick on someone your own size." Deontay, you are 6 foot 7. Does the fact that you can stand eye to eye with these men give you a better chanced at upending them?
DW: Most definitely Rob! In addition to being 6 foot 7, I also have an 84 inch arm reach and I am faster and quicker on my feet than a lot of these smaller 6 foot 3 guys. I also am not one dimensional like many other heavyweights who have fought them. I have been given a lot of compliments on my speed and my footwork and I appreciate that.
RT: It is also argued by some that the success of the NBA and the NFL is a huge part of the reason that the sport of Boxing fails to find enough big talent to compete in the division. Not everyone buys into that theory especially considering that men like you have found their way into boxing. How did you get into boxing?
DW: I was always very talented athletically. I had opportunities in other sports such as in basketball, track, etc. However, when my daughter was born and diagnosed with spina bifada I knew I needed to focus my attention elsewhere and support her. Boxing provided a way for me to do this.
RT: How would you compare Boxing to other sports?
DW: Every sport has its ups and downs. Boxing is a whole different world though. I thought I was in great shape until I came to Boxing. I don't think there is anything out there that requires the work ethic that boxing demands. I have seen not only basketball players and football players train with boxing techniques to stay in shape but I have also seen actors do it as well. It's amazing!
RT: Eventually your decision to become a boxer landed you a spot on the 2008 United States Olympic team in Beijing where you won a Bronze Medal for your country. How did it feel to be the sole medal recipient for the USA?
DW: It was kind of bitter sweet. I was excited, joyful and grateful for myself especially considering I had such little experience. Yet, I was sad as well because those other guys worked so hard and they fell short.
RT: What about the guys who finished above you like Italian Silver Medalist Clemente Russo? Do you ever think about getting revenge?
DW: Ever since I lost to Russo I have been praying that he decides to turn pro. If he does, next time I am going to do it my way.
RT: Speaking of turning professional, so far your career has been going great at 8 & 0 with 8 KO's. How hard has it been adjusting to professional fighting coming from the amateurs?
DW: I love professional fighting. Even if I had the opportunity I wouldn't go back. I love fighting with smaller gloves and no headgear. Also, the fact that the refs have less involvement makes it easier to get a knockout. It is a much bigger experience.
RT: At 24 years old with only eight fights under your belt, it's safe to say that you’re probably a few years away from a title fight. When do you foresee yourself fighting for the Heavyweight Championship?
DW: My goal is to have a title fight be the end of 2011. If not by then, then definitely by the start of 2012. I broke my hand a while back and that slowed me down a little. However, I want to go back to the Olympics in 2012 as the Heavyweight Champion of the World.
RT: That is a great goal Deontay. What about possible non-title fights en route to a heavyweight title? Is there anyone you have your eye on?
DW: I want to fight all the fighters in the top ten. I'll fight Chris Arreola, Kevin Johnson or Eddie Chambers. I'll also fight former champions. I'll take on anyone who is ready.
RT: Well Deontay, it definitely sounds like you are ready to escalate to the top of the division in the years to come. I think I speak for all US fight fans when I say that I wish you the best of luck. Is there anything that you would like to say in closing to all of your fans out there?
DW: I'd like to say thank you to all my fans for their support. I love you. Keep on praying and I know that I will see all of you at the top when I am Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Time will tell if the 6 foot 7 native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama has what it takes to be the Heavyweight Champion of the World. Still, while a title shot does not appear to be in his immediate future, Deontay Wilder has already laid the foundation for a solid career and eager American fight fans are taking notice. While most of his professional career has been un-televised thus far, Friday night will be the first opportunity for fight fans to take a peak at the future of Heavyweight boxing in America.
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