by David P. Greisman
Deontay Wilder spoke to BoxingScene.com on Oct. 25, prior to him stepping on the scale for his Oct. 26 bout with Nicolai Firtha.
BoxingScene.com: How much footage have you seen of Nicolai Firtha?
Wilder: ďI havenít looked at no footage. I can only go by real life. I only saw him in the [Wladimir] Klitschko camp with me. I can go off that, that heís definitely a tough guy. He took a lot of punches from Wladimir. The thing about it, he donít move his head.
ďI think thatís a big risk, a big issue as far as being in the heavyweight division. The division is based on power. You got these strong guys throwing punches at you, and 95 percent of the time theyíre landing because youíre not moving your head. That can be a problem, especially with a guy with my stature that is all about power. But other than that, heís an awesome guy outside the ring. Heís a tough guy inside the ring.Ē
BoxingScene.com: How important for you is it to get knockout No. 30 with win No. 30?
Wilder: ďItís very important. After my 15th knockout, I started thinking like, ĎHey, man, itíd be cool if I can get to 30 knockouts with zero losses. I had set a goal. This is going to hit my goal for me. After this knockout, I donít care if I get no more knockouts. We know thatís not going to happen. Itíll be a goal that Iíve accomplished. Iím always setting goals for myself. Thereís no greater than watching yourself accomplish that goal. I like to set a goal so high that the naked eye canít see it happening. And if the naked eye canít see it happening, then itís labeled impossible.Ē
BoxingScene.com: What is that goal, then, after knockout No. 30?
Wilder: ďIíll set an even higher one, and that goal is getting a belt. But not only getting a belt, but staying undefeated. But not only staying undefeated, but being undefeated with all knockouts after I attain that belt. Itís going to be hard.Ē
BoxingScene.com: In terms of seeing yourself as the future of the heavyweight division, how important is it that it passes to you directly from the Klitschkos, or are you OK with waiting for them to retire?
Wilder: ďNo, no. I want them. I donít want them to retire. Iím ranked No. 3 for the WBC now. Thatís why Iím hoping that after this fight, we try to do something. Iím not looking past Firtha, but just planning. If Vitali stays, what better fight to see? Do you want to see [Bermane] Stiverne vs. a Klitschko, or Deontay Wilder vs. a Klitschko? And Iíd probably get 100 percent, all votes, of Wilder and a Klitschko. Thatís why weíre trying to make our mark before he [Vitali] goes.
ďIím still in a win-win situation. Letís say he retires, and now youíve got the No. 1-No. 2 fight, which would be Stiverne and [Chris] Arreola. OK, they fight for the vacant belt, and Iím still next in line. Theyíre not going to enjoy it long, because Iím right around the corner, and Iím definitely going to take it. Either one. But itíll be more of an honor to take it from the guy thatís been holding it longer in the division. Thatís what I want to do, because I know if I get the first one out of there, the other brother always comes to avenge the brotherís defeat.Ē
BoxingScene.com: Youíve sparred with Wladimir. Have you ever sparred with Vitali?
Wilder: ďIíve never sparred with Vitali.Ē
BoxingScene.com: You mentioned the WBC rankings. Vitaliís the WBC titleholder. Do you prefer him over Wladimir?
Wilder: ďIt doesnít matter. I want them both. But the thing is, Vitaliís more on the verge of retiring, because heís in politics and wants to be president. It only makes sense to get him first. Wladimir, I think heís got about five more years left in him. I donít think heís going to retire no time soon. It only makes sense to get Vitali because his mind is like 98 percent made up with what he wants to do. But the thing about it, it doesnít matter who comes first. If Wladimir comes first, thatíll be great.Ē
BoxingScene.com: What have you learned from watching other heavyweight prospects, and not just American prospects, come and go?
Wilder: ďIt just keeps you humble as a fighter to know that youíve got to stay on your shit, man, youíve got to stay on your game. Youíve got to keep training. You canít look past nobody. I donít know what goes on in their camp. I just know what goes on in my camp. I donít have no yes-men in my camp. I donít have no people around like, ĎOh, you the champ. Oh, you good. You this and that.í
ďOf course I get it every now and then, but they come back down and say, ĎAlright, Deontay, youíve got to work on this. No, thatís wrong. Do it this way.í And I love it like that. I got an awesome team. The foundation of becoming a champion is an awesome team, not having yes-men in your camp saying, ĎYou the best, you the best, you the best.í Even when they see flaws, they gonna say you the best, because they donít want to knock your confidence on your momentum down. They gonna say whatever it takes to keep you uplifted. But you need the truth, though. The truth hurts sometimes.
ďThe way weíve been doing it, of course weíve been taking it slow and keeping our patience, but weíre not building me to just win the title and say I did it. Weíre building me to win the title and long live the king.Ē
BoxingScene.com: What do you need to improve on still and accomplish after this?
Wilder: ďWhether itís the jab, the feet positioning, everything is always a next level to whatever youíre doing, whether youíre throwing a right hand, throwing combinations, the jab, all that. I donít say itís just one particular thing I need to work on and everything else is good. I feel that everything thatís about me, I can improve that much more. Thereís a lot I can improve on.Ē
BoxingScene.com: Anything else you want people to know?
Wilder: ďMany guys turned us down. One guy in specific that we wanted. Right now, everybody looks at me as they want the money to fight me. Of course, it was a three-week notice, and the money couldnít come off for what they wanted ó they wanted a main event fight. We got an open television bout offer, so of course the money wasnít going to be what people wanted. Firtha came along. He took the offer, others didnít want to fight, and there it is. You got to give him credit for that.
ďI definitely want to show the skills that I have. Iím thinking about not even throwing no right hands in this fight. I want to go the rounds. But I also want to show the skills that I have as far as my jab, as far as spreading my feet, the things that I can do. But the thing is, the problem is, my brain has a muscle memory, so I donít think about throwing my right hand no more. My mind automatically do it, because my mind has a combat mode. I want to show people that I have a hook as well; I donít just have a right hand.Ē
Pick up a copy of Davidís new book, ďFighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,Ē at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon. Send questions/comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.orgTags: Deontay Wilder