To many, heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder is a one-trick pony — land the big right hand and it’s usually lights out for his opponent.
But Wilder, who is an experienced professional with amateur pedigree that translated into a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics, insists that while he, of course, relies on punching power — his best attribute — he is also a well-rounded fighter.
“As a true champion, I know how to adjust to any fighter that’s in front of me. My experience facing fighters of all styles has prepared me for this special fight,” Wilder said on Monday at the Churchill Boxing Club in Santa Monica, California, during his media day ahead of a showdown with lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury on Dec. 1 (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“I’ve had tremendous sparring. Every day I’m making adjustments and getting myself right so I can get my timing and style exactly how it needs to be,” Wilder continued. “If the fight was this weekend, Deontay Wilder is ready to go.”
Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs), 33, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, will be making his eighth title defense when he faces Fury (27-0, 19 KOs), 30, of England, who has won two fights in a row since embarking on a comeback after 31 months out of the ring because of a litany of personal problems that led to his being stripped of the title belts he won by huge upset over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015.
“I feel like I’m at my very best right now,” Wilder said. “Mentally, physically and emotionally I’m ready to go. Everything is perfect. I just want to get in the ring and show action. Tyson Fury doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into.”
Wilder is coming off his most significant victory in March, when he brutally knocked out dangerous top contender Luis “King Kong” Ortiz in 10th round in a fight of the year candidate. Wilder did not have to fight Ortiz. It was an optional defense, one that had been postponed because of Ortiz’s previous positive drug test.
But Wilder agreed to reschedule the fight he had sought out because he wanted to prove to people that he was not afraid to fight a top opponent. And after he knocked out Ortiz, Wilder and his team worked very hard to try to finalize a fight for the undisputed championship with undefeated unified titlist Anthony Joshua of England. However, Joshua elected to go in another direction.
That left Wilder looking for another top opponent for his second fight of the year and the bout with Fury was worked out. Wilder said he is not ever going to avoid the best opposition.
“This is not a game for me. Everyone has heard about what it’s like to be in the ring with me, but until you’re in there, you don’t know for sure that what you’ve been hearing is for real. I’m the best in the world.”
“Luis Ortiz was the most avoided fighter in the heavyweight division and I understand why he had never gotten the title shot before,” Wilder said. “I’m the type of fighter who gives people opportunities and he was the fighter I needed to face to prove to the world what I’m all about.
“This is not a game for me. Everyone has heard about what it’s like to be in the ring with me, but until you’re in there, you don’t know for sure that what you’ve been hearing is for real. I’m the best in the world. I don’t think any heavyweight has been through what I’ve been through. I’m training for a certain type of mission. As a fighter I have to have the mindset that I must be ready for anything. Then, once it’s time for the bell to ring, I become ‘The Bronze Bomber.'”
One thing that Wilder will face that he is not used to when he gets into the ring with Fury is opposing a bigger man. The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Wilder usually towers over his opponents.
That will not be the case against the 6-9, 260-pound Fury.
“Tyson Fury is kind of like a Rubik’s cube, but a Rubik’s cube can be solved,” said Jay Deas, Wilder’s trainer and one of his managers. “Fury is a very versatile fighter who can move, he can box and fight from lots of distances. He’s the total package as a fighter and on top of that he’s strong-willed mentally.
“We have our hands full, but I know that Deontay Wilder is the guy to handle Tyson Fury. Deontay is the right guy to take over boxing and this is the first step in that. Fury is a tall fighter, but it’s really the athleticism that makes him what he is. We believe we’re better off finding more athletic guys who are slightly shorter than Fury, rather than someone his height who is a statue.”
Wilder didn’t sound like he was all that concerned about Fury’s size advantage.
“Fury has height just like me and he also brings an awkward style like myself. He’s rangy, mobile and he believes he’s the best in the world,” Wilder said. “You’ll get two giants who are athletic and move around the ring like no one else in this sport.
“They say that I have the power and he has the boxing skills. We’ll see on Dec. 1. It’s a puncher versus a boxer. I think the puncher is going to box his lights out, and then I’m going to knock his lights out.”