Uneasy is the head that wears a crown, William Shakespeare once famously wrote.
Former heavyweight crownholder Deontay Wilder knows all too well the pressure that comes with being a champion.
Wilder’s world title reign spanned from 2015 to 2020 until he ran into the buzzsaw that was Tyson Fury. Wilder lost his WBC belt when Fury stopped him over two years ago, and once again in a rematch nearly a year ago.
Wilder will return to the ring on Oct. 15 in a comeback bout against resurging contender Robert Helenius at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on FOX pay-per-view.
During a recent media workout in Las Vegas, the soon-to-be 37-year-old Bronze Bomber opened up about his renewed energy and focus.
“It feels good. Even in my first reign, a lot of it was my way. But this right here is totally 100% Deontay Wilder’s way,” said Wilder. “I’m in a different position right now. And it just feels great to be in the position I’m in with no pressure. I don’t need the business anymore. When I do it, I do it for my own personal reasons. I’m doing it for the people and I’m doing it for some hardware, some titles.”
Wilder coach Malik Scott said the 2008 Olympics bronze medalist has trained 500 rounds on the pads and 500 rounds only shadow boxing while preparing for Helenius.
“We’ve been doing 30 or 40 rounds nonstop,” said Wilder. “Only time I get water is during the break. I’ve just been doing things like that to challenge myself, doing things that have never been done before, or that you don’t really do in boxing. I wanted to see how my body adjusts to the long length of time without a break. When you can go a long time without taking a break, you’re in shape.”
Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs) will be facing a familiar foe in former sparring partner Helenius (31-3, 20 KOs).
The 38-year-old Helenius is coming off back-to-back one-sided technical knockout wins against the once-touted Adam Kownacki.
Wilder realizes he has to be on his A-game against “The Nordic Nightmare” if he has any shot at making another run at a heavyweight crown.
“I always want a good matchup. Robert has been on a winning streak and he’s here. I’ve been hearing he’s supposed to be the mandatory for Oleksandr Usyk and however that’s laid out, but I know he’s coming with his A+++ game. They always do when they fight me,” said Wilder.
“With Robert, I think he’s gotten even more confident because he’s been sparring with me for many, many years. So we kind of know each other. At this point in camp, we’re trying to do some things that he’s never seen before. And I’m sure he’s trying to do some things that I’ve never seen before. And the one thing I like about Robert is that he has a warrior’s heart, just like me.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.