By Keith Idec
Deontay Wilder wouldn’t bite.
When asked on a recent conference call if he sees any similarities between him and another 6-foot-7 heavyweight who got exposed it what turned out to be his only title shot, Wilder politely dismissed comparisons to Michael Grant. Lennox Lewis overwhelmed Grant, dropped him three times and knocked him out in the second round of their April 2000 heavyweight championship match at Madison Square Garden.
The 6-7, 250-pound Grant, a former college football player, was 31-0 (22 KOs) entering the Lewis fight, but nothing during the first 5½ years of his career prepared him for fighting Lewis, then the best heavyweight in boxing. Grant was 27 when he challenged Lewis and had stopped Andrew Golota in his previous fight.
Las Vegas’ Bermane Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KOs) isn’t as good as Lewis was then, yet Wilder’s detractors consider the Tuscaloosa, Ala., native ill-prepared for their Jan. 17 fight for Stiverne’s WBC championship because Wilder has knocked out mostly journeymen or worse while building his perfect record (32-0, 32 KOs) and still hasn’t boxed beyond the fourth round in a pro career that began six years ago.
“I don’t like people to compare me even if it was to the greatest fighter in the world,” Wilder, 29, said. “Richard Schaefer said I was one of the hardest-hitting heavyweights in history. But it ain’t doing me no justice to say I have a style or to compare me to [someone else]. It ain’t doing me no good when I get in the ring. What Michael Grant done, that was his legacy, that was his journey. My name is Deontay Leshun Wilder. Nice to meet you guys. That’s my name.
“What God has for me is a whole different plan than what Michael Grant had going for himself. I don’t care what he’s done. I’m on a different path. Everybody can’t have the same destiny, have the same glory. This is my time. This is me. When people compare me to other people, I like the compliments whether it’s good and bad. But I don’t want ‘em because I’m making my own legacy. I’m building my own thing. I’m building my own foundation. I’m Deontay Wilder, baby. Nice to meet you.”
Showtime will televise the Stiverne-Wilder fight from MGM Grand in Las Vegas as the main event of a Showtime Championship Boxing tripleheader.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.