Deontay Wilder has some of the heaviest hands in boxing. 32 of his 33 opponents can attest to why they call him "The Bronze Bomber."
If Eric Molina isn't careful on Saturday night at the Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Ala., he'll be the 33rd man standing on the wrong end of Wilder's knockout punch.
With a record of 33-0 (32 knockouts), Wilder will put his WBC World Heavyweight Championship on the line against Molina (23-2) in his home state.
Standing 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, Wilder is widely regarded as America’s lone hope at taking down the Klitschko dynasty and bringing the cache that once came with the title “Heavyweight Champion of the World" back to the U.S.
In an interview with BET.com, Wilder, 29, talks about representing Alabama, how his dreams of gridiron glory were re-routed and why he feels he can be the biggest athlete on the planet.
BET.com: You’re definitely the favorite in this fight, but is there anything you’ve seen in watching Molina's previous fights that you’ve never faced before?
Deontay Wilder: There’s nothing that I see of him that I haven’t seen before. I think the guy is very, very slow. I think he’s clumsy at times, too, but I like his heart. I like his will. He comes determined and that’s what I want. I want a guy that feels like he can come and take my belt from me. We still work on some of the same things because we wanna go from good to great. And then when we reach great we wanna go to magnificent and then wonderful.
Being undefeated, how do you keep yourself from getting comfortable?
Boxing definitely teaches discipline, and I look at the bigger picture of things. I’m not where I want to be. I’m a champion of the world but I want more and I know there’s more out there, so it keeps me grounded and keeps me hungry.
A lot of people felt that the Floyd Mayweather Jr./Manny Pacquiao fight hurt the sport of boxing. What would you say to those people?
I would tell them to stop having a poopy party. You can’t please everybody. Everybody is gonna have an opinion on stuff like that, but the thing about it is they’re gonna complain, but they’re still gonna watch what they love and enjoy. There’s always gonna be knuckleheads that wanna give their input. Social media gave crackheads a voice. I think boxing is in a great state, and especially the heavyweight division has come alive and I’m excited to be a part of that.
Do you feel any added sense of pressure fighting in your home state?
No matter where I am in the world, when I fight, there’s never pressure. Fighting at home in front of all my people, it’s definitely is different because, some of the people known me since childhood. If anything I’m gonna have that next level of excitement and anxiousness, like I can’t wait to get in there and fight with pride and honor.
Talk about your pride in bringing the heavyweight spotlight back to the U.S.
It’s really a sense of pride. I set out to be the biggest thing in America. At one point in time, the most famous person in America was the heavyweight champion of the world and if I’m gonna be labeled as a celebrity and have people always watching me and creeping on my social media every time I do something, then I embrace that. The heavyweight champ is supposed to be the most famous person in America and that’s what I’m setting out to be. I’m the man for the job, with my personality alone and the things that I do. People enjoy me. Sometimes I get silly. Sometimes my mind gets a little nasty, but that’s just the sense of humor that I have about myself. Everybody isn’t going to like the guy that goes to church all the time. Everybody’s got a different taste, so I try to mix it up and when I do that, I capture the world and everybody comes together.
With football being a way of life in Alabama and UFC’s rapid rise, how did boxing become your path?
Being from Alabama, you always have a dream of playing [football] for the Central High School cause that was the schools' pride. You go to a game and you see all the people and the band and then you dream of going on to play for the [University of Alabama] Crimson Tide, but when I had my daughter, all that changed. Things don’t always go as planned, but God had another plan for my life and it was to be a fighter. I’m very grateful for that, to have a daughter and to be able to do the things that I’ve done and to be able to see the places I’ve seen and have the things I have...is just unbelievable. I still sometimes sit back and reminisce about how things were and how they are now and just throw my hands up to God and say, “You’ve brought me a long way.”
BET Sports News — Get the latest news and information about African-Americans in sports, including weekly recaps, celebrity news and photos of your favorite Black athletes.
(Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Playboy)