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: “I haven’t 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 he’s definitely a tough guy. He took a lot of punches from Wladimir. The thing about it, he don’t move his head.
“I think that’s 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 they’re landing because you’re 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, he’s an awesome guy outside the ring. He’s a tough guy inside the ring.”
BoxingScene.com: How important for you is it to get knockout No. 30 with win No. 30?
Wilder: “It’s very important. After my 15th knockout, I started thinking like, ‘Hey, man, it’d 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 don’t care if I get no more knockouts. We know that’s not going to happen. It’ll be a goal that I’ve accomplished. I’m always setting goals for myself. There’s no greater than watching yourself accomplish that goal. I like to set a goal so high that the naked eye can’t see it happening. And if the naked eye can’t see it happening, then it’s labeled impossible.”
BoxingScene.com: What is that goal, then, after knockout No. 30?
Wilder: “I’ll 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. It’s going to be hard.”
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: “No, no. I want them. I don’t want them to retire. I’m ranked No. 3 for the WBC now. That’s why I’m hoping that after this fight, we try to do something. I’m 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 I’d probably get 100 percent, all votes, of Wilder and a Klitschko. That’s why we’re trying to make our mark before he [Vitali] goes.
“I’m still in a win-win situation. Let’s say he retires, and now you’ve got the No. 1-No. 2 fight, which would be Stiverne and [Chris] Arreola. OK, they fight for the vacant belt, and I’m still next in line. They’re not going to enjoy it long, because I’m right around the corner, and I’m definitely going to take it. Either one. But it’ll be more of an honor to take it from the guy that’s been holding it longer in the division. That’s 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 brother’s defeat.”
BoxingScene.com: You’ve sparred with Wladimir. Have you ever sparred with Vitali?
Wilder: “I’ve never sparred with Vitali.”
BoxingScene.com: You mentioned the WBC rankings. Vitali’s the WBC titleholder. Do you prefer him over Wladimir?
Wilder: “It doesn’t matter. I want them both. But the thing is, Vitali’s more on the verge of retiring, because he’s in politics and wants to be president. It only makes sense to get him first. Wladimir, I think he’s got about five more years left in him. I don’t think he’s 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 doesn’t matter who comes first. If Wladimir comes first, that’ll be great.”
BoxingScene.com: What have you learned from watching other heavyweight prospects, and not just American prospects, come and go?
Wilder: “It just keeps you humble as a fighter to know that you’ve got to stay on your shit, man, you’ve got to stay on your game. You’ve got to keep training. You can’t look past nobody. I don’t know what goes on in their camp. I just know what goes on in my camp. I don’t have no yes-men in my camp. I don’t have no people around like, ‘Oh, you the champ. Oh, you good. You this and that.’
“Of course I get it every now and then, but they come back down and say, ‘Alright, Deontay, you’ve got to work on this. No, that’s wrong. Do it this way.’ 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, ‘You the best, you the best, you the best.’ Even when they see flaws, they gonna say you the best, because they don’t 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.
“The way we’ve been doing it, of course we’ve been taking it slow and keeping our patience, but we’re not building me to just win the title and say I did it. We’re building me to win the title and long live the king.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you need to improve on still and accomplish after this?
Wilder: “Whether it’s the jab, the feet positioning, everything is always a next level to whatever you’re doing, whether you’re throwing a right hand, throwing combinations, the jab, all that. I don’t say it’s just one particular thing I need to work on and everything else is good. I feel that everything that’s about me, I can improve that much more. There’s a lot I can improve on.”
BoxingScene.com: Anything else you want people to know?
Wilder: “Many 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 couldn’t come off for what they wanted — they wanted a main event fight. We got an open television bout offer, so of course the money wasn’t going to be what people wanted. Firtha came along. He took the offer, others didn’t want to fight, and there it is. You got to give him credit for that.
“I definitely want to show the skills that I have. I’m 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 don’t 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 don’t just have a right hand.”
Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon. Send questions/comments via email at email@example.comTags: Deontay Wilder