Heavyweight Champion talks disappointment of another opponent's failed drug test and promises to make statement against mandatory challenger Bermane Stiverne Saturday night on Showtime.
BROOKLYN — When he was able to slow down, when the cameras were gone, and the media throng had disappeared, Deontay Wilder, sans his press conference hype face, spoke in a calm, easy tone, making salient points about himself and his predicament.
You see, Wilder is considered in some circles as the best heavyweight in the world. He holds a prestigious title that proves it. He just can’t seem to get a break.
Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) will be embarking on a rematch with Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs), the only fighter to ever go the distance with the “Bronze Bomber,” this Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Showtime).
Wilder is the heavy favorite—and he should be. But Wilder was originally scheduled to face undefeated Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz, who had to pull out of the fight after testing positive for a banned substance. In 2016, Alexander Povetkin, another Wilder opponent, tested positive and left the Bronze Bomber in the same situation.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” Wilder said, aside from the media horde that had filled Barclays a month ago, announcing Stiverne as a replacement for Ortiz. “All I want is a chance against the best, and I think, no, I know that I deserve that.
“It is frustrating when a fight that you’re preparing for, that you’re really looking forward to having because you know you can shine, suddenly gets pulled away. But I will tell you this: situations like this make you stronger. They test you. When adversity hits, I can say I’m battle-tested, because how many times can a champ go through what I have?
“Hey, maybe what’s happened to me I have to take as a compliment. These guys have to go outside and try and gain every advantage they can over a fighter like me, because deep down, they know they can’t beat me. They need as much help as they can get to beat me.”
“ I owe the fans great fights and after being what I’ve been through, it’s something that I owe myself. No one has seen the best Deontay Wilder yet. That’s still to come. ” WBC Heavyweight World Champ Deontay Wilder
To this, Stiverne bristles. The Haitian-born, 39-year-old hasn’t fought in two years.
“They're not factors to me. Those factors are for people like you and the people that's out there,” said Stiverne, who got up off the canvas after a first-round knockdown to beat Derric Rossy by 10-round decision on Nov. 14, 2015. “Age is nothing but a number. I can't say that I'm not inactive. I mean when it comes to fighting to be in the ring, you could say that. But as far as being inactive, I haven't been inactive; I've been in the gym all day every day.
“But hey, I'm not trying to look for excuses. But what I'm telling you is this second fight is going to be a whole lot different fight. There's going to be a whole different ending.”
There is something Stiverne still may not understand about Wilder, whose oldest daughter, Naieya, was born with spina bifida, the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States. Wilder fights for far more than just himself each time he enters the ring.
“It’s where I get my strength,” Wilder said. “Be a parent and have a doctor tell you your child may not walk. If you can’t be inspired to be the best you can be, nothing will ever inspire you. Naieya is not only with me, all of my children are with me every time I fight. It’s like someone is trying to break into your home and harm your family. You’re defending them.
“That’s the attitude I have every time I go into the ring. This is my mandatory and I have to get this out of way and get Bermane out of way. He’s just been focused on this one man and his name is Deontay Wilder and I don't understand it; I don't understand it.
“But at the end of the day, all fighters get what they ask for. They get what they ask for. And come November 4, he asked for it and he shall receive. We must do what we have to do. If he feels like he's ready, then we shall see. This time around, I don't want any of his excuses. I can't deal with the excuses no more, man. I'm tired of the excuses; I'm tired of being the blame.
“I'm just ready to get this behind me and just past me and to see what's next. I owe the fans great fights and after being what I’ve been through, it’s something that I owe myself. No one has seen the best Deontay Wilder yet. That’s still to come.”
For a complete look at Wilder vs Stiverne, visit our fight page.