The words are as big as the man currently giving voice to them.
“There’s never been a goal that I’ve set in life that I haven’t accomplished,” says the 6-foot-7, 220-pound Deontay Wilder. “Never.”
As Gandhi once famously said, “Never argue with a Frigidaire-sized dude who hits with the force a Mack truck plowing through a kid’s lemonade stand, brah.”
Besides, Wilder has certainly backed up the aforementioned sentiment in the boxing ring, where he’s 34-0 with 33 KOs.
As he gets ready to throw down with France’s Johann Duhaupas (32-2, 2 KOs) on Saturday in his native Alabama, Wilder took a break to count down his Greatest Hits, spending more time talking about some of his fights than said fights actually lasted.
3 vs Siarhei Liakhovich, August 9, 2013, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California
Former champ Siarhei “The White Wolf” Liakhovich barked up the wrong tree when he agreed to take on Wilder, who proved himself to be the heavyweight pack leader on this night.
Though Liakhovich was a helluva fighter at one point in his career—check out his sensational 2006 scrap with Lamon Brewster, arguably the best heavyweight clash of the past decade—Wilder separated the man from his senses in the very first round, one of 18 KOs that Wilder has earned in a fight’s opening stanza. And this one was easily the most brutal.
“I gave him a seizure and a concussion at the same time,” Wilder says. “It was a scary moment. When I feel my power and that face in my glove, I know for sure that it’s over. And I felt it with him, too.”
The experience left Wilder with a heart as heavy as his hands.
“I want to knock my opponents out, but I don’t want to hurt them to where they can’t go back to their families and their kids,” he says. “When I saw him shaking like he did, I was like, ‘Oh, man,’ because I don’t want to severely hurt somebody like that. I didn’t have anything against the man. But it happened.”
2 vs Kelvin Price, December 15, 2012, at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles
In Round 3, Wilder flicks out his jab.
It doesn’t land.
Then comes an overhand right.
Not only does it find home, but so does Kelvin Price—“home” in this case being a fixer-upper on the ropes, his body as slack as a wind sock on a breeze-less day.
“Oh my god, that was a crazy knockout,” Wilder exclaims, sounding like a kid in a candy store—you know, if candy stores were boxing rings and brutal punches to the dome were 10-pound bags of Skittles. “Just the feeling of when I hit him, the structure of the bones in his face, I felt them in my hand. It was a ‘Wow!’ moment for me. When you get a devastating knockout like that, it’s like, ‘Oh man!’”
It was Wilder’s 26th knockout, but it ranks much higher on his list of favorite KOs thanks to some pre-fight boasting from his opponent, whose mouth ran like a faucet of jibber-jabber.
Turns out, on this night, the Price was wrong.
“I remember meeting Kelvin for the first time; we were in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and he was on my undercard," Wilder recalls. "He did an interview about me, because my name was mentioned to him before and he said he wasn’t ready (to fight).
“But people go bipolar when they get cameras in their face, and his personality changed. He got on camera and ran his mouth. Years before we fought, I said I would knock him out. And I did what I said I would. It’s a good feeling, ‘Man, I told you.’”
1 vs Bermane Stiverne, January 17, 2015, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas
Plenty of boxers hype a fight by playing up their dislike of one another, peddling cubic-zirconium contempt as a means of selling the bout even if there's really no ill-will from either side.
When Wilder and Berman Stiverne met, however, the animosity was authentic.
“With me and him, it wasn’t a game. It was real. Real, real, real,” Wilder says, still sounding a little ticked off eight months after the fact. “That’s a guy I wanted to really, really hurt. I didn’t want to hurt a guy so bad in a long time.”
Stiverne did enough trash talking in the years prior to their fight for his mouth to qualify as a landfill.
Wilder took notice, then took Stiverne out, dropping him in the second round and concussing him en route to a unanimous-decision victory.
“There were many times that I saw that he wanted to quit on that stool. I saw it in his eyes," Wilder says. "He didn’t want to get back up. He only got back up because he talked a lot of smack and he was the champion, and no champion wants to give their title away.”
Stiverne lost the title anyway on a night that was ripe with meaning for Wilder.
“I promised my daughter when she was 1-year-old that her dad would be a world champion,” he says.
For complete coverage of Wilder vs Duhaupas, visit our fight page.