LAS VEGAS – Deontay Wilder doesn’t put much stock in Tyson Fury’s lineal heavyweight championship claim. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
Wilder considers it a promotional ploy from a former champion who gave up his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles without honoring the rematch clause in his contract to fight Wladimir Klitschko. England’s Fury argues that he is boxing’s true heavyweight champion because he defeated Klitschko by unanimous decision in November 2015 and still hasn’t been beaten.
Detractors and supporters regularly debate the legitimacy of the heavyweight championship lineage, but Wilder promised Tuesday to render Fury an ex-lineal champion in their 12-round rematch Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“I don’t know much about no lineal champion,” Wilder said during an interview with a group of reporters following his “grand arrival” at MGM Grand. “I didn’t even hear it until he brought it up. I don’t even recall hearing him saying it when he beat Klitschko. I only heard of him saying it when he was in his stage of depression and contemplating [suicide] and all this. So, you know, I feel like he brought the lineal thing up to still have some type of acknowledgement, a part of the division.
“Because right now, I can show you my WBC title. Can he do the same? I don’t see it. They’ve even had title fights for the lineal [championship]. But you know, most of the time, the traditional way, we see a belt, we see it put on his waist and stuff like that. So, I don’t see it [with Fury]. But whatever floats his boat. But once I knock him out, you won’t hear nothing else about the lineal champion.”
The 34-year-old Wilder won the WBC title when he beat Bermane Stiverne by unanimous decision in January 2015 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Boxing’s longest-reigning champion will attempt to successfully defend it for the 11th time when he faces Fury again in a FOX Sports/ESPN pay-per-view main event ($79.99 in HD).
Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs), of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, contended Tuesday that another British heavyweight can stake a stronger claim to the lineal championship than Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs).
“So many people [say] so many things about lineal, some people say Lennox Lewis is still the lineal champion,” Wilder said. “You know? So, if he came back, I guess it’ll be two lineal champions. I just don’t wanna get involved in that. You know, it’s already too many belts in the heavyweight division. It’s very confusing to have so many belts, because my thing is one champion, one face, one name. And it’s so difficult. Many people say, ‘Why you never unified,’ or whatever.
“That’s a simple question. If you go back and do your history on that, you’ll see that none of these champions gave me the opportunity to unify because they know what I’m capable of doing. All the other guys had opportunities. And it’s big to get the opportunity in boxing. That’s huge. When you get an opportunity, then you can make something happen. If I got those same opportunities as some of these other guys got, you’ll see one champion, one face, one name right now.”
The 54-year-old Lewis, a FOX analyst who’ll be part of the pre-fight and fight night coverage, retired as boxing’s lineal heavyweight champion after his technical-knockout victory over Vitali Klitschko in June 2003.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.