World champion Deontay Wilder got a firsthand look at the heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, and now he wants a piece of the action.
Wilder was ringside Saturday at London’s Wembley Stadium as part of the Sky Sports broadcast crew. He watched as Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs) scored a fifth-round knockdown, rose from the canvas in the sixth and twice floored Klitschko in the 11th round to gain a technical knockout before a crowd of 90,000 and secure his second world title in the process.
Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) now wants Joshua for a title unification clash by year’s end or in early 2018, and he shared his thoughts on Joshua’s victory and the heavyweight division overall.
Did the Joshua-Klitschko fight live up to the hype, and do you think it will help lead toward the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000?
Most definitely. I spoke to several major outlets here in London about it. This fight lights a fire in the heavyweight division and ushers in a new era for the sport. When was the last time there’s been an undisputed champion in the glamour division?
I feel like boxing and the heavyweight division were in a dark place, but that it’s now been brought back into the light. It’s been like a snail in its shell that’s slowly emerged and comes out. Now we’re in the light, and I can’t wait for my turn to regain the world’s attention.
Is it better for you to go after the bigger fight against Joshua right away, or do you allow him to fight Tyson Fury and you fight Joseph Parker, and then the winners of those fights unify the titles against one another?
Joshua can go ahead and do the Tyson Fury fight, and I want Parker for that other belt. I truly want to unify and my people are working on it. For me, it makes for an even bigger fight, and it’s going to take time to build it up.
So just like Joshua has two belts, I want to come to the table with two belts. When Wilder-Joshua happens, I think we can do well over 90,000 [in attendance], because people are hungry for it and craving it. They’ll come from all over the world.
People respect us more and the money is better that way because it’s a megafight at the end of the year. That’s the ultimate goal. I would go to England. Every time I come to England, they show me love. I have haters, but I have a lot of supporters. A lot of people have opinions that I’m arrogant or stuck up until they meet me. Then they see that I’m a down-to-earth guy and they fall in love with me. I have positive vibes and energy, and that’s what they discover.
Whether we go across the pond or stay here in America, we’ve got options. But I think if Joshua wants to be bigger, he needs to come to America. I think that wherever it happens, though, a fight between Joshua and myself would be so huge that we would make fans of the non-traditional boxing fans.
“ Just like [Anthony] Joshua has two belts, I want to come to the table with two belts. When Wilder-Joshua happens, I think we can do well over 90,000 [in attendance], because people are hungry for it and craving it. ” Deontay Wilder, heavyweight world champion
What was your assessment of the Joshua-Klitschko fight?
In neither the fifth nor the sixth round did I think that the fight was over. These two fighters had this look in their eyes that they wanted to win so badly for bragging rights to be a unified champion.
I had Klitschko winning by about two points before the end of the fight because, amazingly, Joshua started to fatigue and Klitschko was able to come back and buzz Joshua a couple of times. There were a few rounds after Joshua got knocked down that he didn’t seem to be committing to his punches as much.
But then his youth came into play and he got his second wind. He was able to land a succession of punches that really hurt Klitschko and you could see that in his eyes. At that point, I thought the referee did the right thing in stopping the fight. It was time.
Should Klitschko retire now?
I do think that Klitschko should retire. After this fight, he’s earned even more fans than he’s ever had. Age ain’t nothing but a number, but it definitely plays a big part.
Wladimir Klitschko’s got nothing else to prove. I hope that he stops while he’s still beloved by everyone. Klitschko’s name is known and respected by everyone now, so he can go out in a positive light. But if he comes back and fights and gets knocked out, he can only damage his legacy. I don’t want to see that happen.
Can you break down a fight between you and Parker, or between you and Joshua based on styles and skills?
You already know what the hype is about. It’s what I stand for and what I represent. I have a confidence and a will to win that people can’t see. However you think I look in the ring, I love my style of fighting. People have always doubted my style.
Bermane Stiverne is the only man I didn’t knock out and I beat him. It’s a weird, raw style that’s capable of beating anybody. It’s a style that’s difficult to train for because my style is difficult to copy and emulate. I feel like I’ve proven myself.
But even though I’ve done that, I don’t get full credit for it. People are still going to find negative things to say about you, so I enjoy the way that I win and what I’ve done in the heavyweight division. Ultimately, I have power, so the only thing I see against either of them is a knockout.
This division is about power nowadays and I’m blessed to have that. I have God-given power for a reason. It doesn’t matter how I look in a fight, as long as I get that “W,” I could be wild all I want. It’s how I finish, and how I get the win. It’s about getting the job done.
Would you be willing to consider a rematch with Stiverne, your mandatory challenger, or a title defense against another top contender such as Luis Ortiz?
If anything else comes my way, I’m willing to accept the challenge. You can pack arenas, you can sell pay-per-view. All that is fine and dandy, but it’s really time to strike while the iron is hot and get on with unifying the division.
After requiring surgery last year to repair broken bones in your right hand and a tear in your right biceps, how is your health right now?
With my biceps, my hand and my entire body, everything is good. No complaints. I’ve been doing a lot of water activities and staying in shape. I’m ready to go at any given time. I’m ready to start knocking people out once again.
With the right sequence of fights against the right opponents, you can easily sell out arenas regularly after [Joshua-Klitschko]. It’s time to unify the division. That’s the task we in boxing have ahead of us. As of right now, that’s what it’s all about.
- Deontay Wilder