Look, there’s a point he’s making when he dumps lighter fluid all over the plastic Godzilla, tells a quick aside about his grandma lopping the heads off lizards and then unleashes a wand of flames worthy of the hell he intends to put his next opponent through.
The most basic reason Deontay Wilder (34-0, 33 KOs) films himself immolating a toy monster popularized in Japanese B-movies and bitchin’ Blue Öyster Cult jams: because Johann Duhaupas (32-2, 20 KOs), the man the heavyweight champ faces in his native Alabama on Saturday, is nicknamed the “Reptile.”
OK, so that one’s kind of obvious.
But there’s something else to be taken from the clip, a more telling point.
“Boxing is nothin’ but a big show, you know?” Wilder exclaims on a recent afternoon. “People love a show, and this is part of the show, taunting my opponent. It keeps it exciting for people. And that’s what we try to do.”
In other words, Deontay Wilder gets it, gets the fact that he’s an entertainer as much as an athlete, with personality and punching power intertwined in the strands of his DNA.
Yeah, we all know boxing is a life-and-death sport whose rigors are not to be trivialized. But at the same time, a little levity is welcomed, and Wilder, "The Bronze Bomber,” has several payloads of that to drop on fans and fellow fighters alike.
He goofs on his opponents.
“I don’t hold my tongue with anybody,” he says.
He has a little fun with those who are initially reluctant to approach a 6-foot-7 man with biceps that bulge like Barney Gumble’s beer gut.
“I get on people a little bit,” he chuckles about easily intimidated fans. “I understand. If I’m not smiling, I don’t look like a guy whom you can just walk up to. But when people get to know me, I’m a pretty nice guy.”
Wilder’s air of ease about himself could even potentially extend to heads of state. Or so he contends.
Word to the wise, President Obama: Should you ever find yourself in the presence of Deontay Wilder, do not ask him to pull your finger.
“We could be in the room with the president, and if he makes a joke that’s just not funny to me, everybody else could laugh just because of who he is, but I’m not going to laugh,” says Wilder, indeed, not laughing. “My dad always told me, ‘If it’s not funny, don’t laugh. Don’t be fake.’ If I feel a certain type of way about a certain thing, I express myself with it.”
Need more tangible proof?
Dig that puddle of Godzilla, currently cooling in Alabama.
For full coverage of Wilder vs Duhaupas, visit our fight page.