By Jake Donovan
Deontay Wilder’s name was bound to come up often during this time of the year. The 2012 Summer Olympics are in full swing, with the 12-person U.S. squad (nine men, three women) looking to greatly improve on the poor showing from the ’08 U.S. team in Beijing.
Wilder spared his Olympic teammates the embarrassment of being shut out at the medals table when he managed to capture Olympic bronze in the heavyweight division. The feat came with a touch of irony, as he was the least experienced boxer on the squad.
More irony comes of his career, as his first major television headliner comes during the heart of Olympic season. Wilder prepares for Saturday’s showdown against late sub Kertson Manswell, which airs live on Fox Sports from the Mobile Convention Center’s Expo Arena in Mobile, Alabama.
The bout airs mere hours after the Round of 16 competition will have completed in the men’s division across the pond in London.
As much as Wilder wishes he could be in two places at once, the unbeaten heavyweight finds it far more fitting than strange that both events air on the same day.
“I think it’s a natural fit,” believes Wilder (23-0, 23KO), who fights just three hours south of his Tuscaloosa hometown. “America’s only medalist in boxing from the the Beijing Olympics to be undefeated and headlining a major event from his home state, while the ‘12 team does its thing in London. It works out perfectly.”
For boxing fanatics who prefer to watch as much of the sport as possible, the televised timing couldn’t be better. The late portion of Olympic boxing coverage is due to end at roughly 5:30PM local (Central) time in Mobile, with the doors to open at the venue approximately 30 minutes later.
The Fox Sports telecast is due to air at 9:00PM local time (10:00PM ET), which means Wilder could conceivably check out the latest batch of U.S. Olympic hopefuls before doing his own thing. Whether or not that happens, he’ll continue to root hard for his countrymen, particularly those with whom he already served in past competition.
“I'm tight with Rau’shee Warren and Michael Hunter. They were both on the 2008 team,” Wilder states. “I think they'll do well and bring home a medal. I don't really know the rest of the guys, but I'm pulling for them. Rau’shee will tell them to stay focused and concentrate on the task at hand.”
Hours after the Round of 16 is complete, Wilder will have to focus on his own task at hand. Awaiting him is 35-year old Kertson Manswell, who replaces an injured Kelvin Price. While the 6’7” Wilder usually towers over the competition, he rarely weighs over 220 for any given fight. With that in mind, he is at a potential physical disadvantage against the 6’4, 260 lb. Manswell (22-5, 17KO).
Wilder doesn’t seem very concerned about the physical dimensions of his opponent, or that he’s had less than two weeks to properly prepare for him after previously training to face the unbeaten Price.
“Changing opponents is nothing new to me. It’s happened several times in my career already,” Wilder says, still of the ready-for-anything mindset required to get through the blind-seeding format of many amateur competitions. “I just have to be prepared for whatever comes my way. Camp has been good and I’m ready to go!”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox