by David P. Greisman
Deontay Wilder was supposed to defend his heavyweight title in May in Russia against his most accomplished opponent, mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin. Instead, he’ll be fighting at home in Alabama next week against a foe, Chris Arreola, who admits he doesn’t deserve the shot.
While Wilder is in the ring, the legal fighting over the Povetkin fight fallout continues. Both fighters have sued each other.
It’s been an eventful past two months, but Wilder says he hasn’t allowed the litigation to get in his way. He’s not ignoring it, though.
“I haven’t been on a close watch of it, but I’ve definitely been following it. It’s ridiculous, if you ask me. I’ve got served papers and everything,” Wilder said on a July 6 media conference call. “I’m not letting it knock me off my game and my focus. It’s just part of life. I’ve been through worse situations in life than this. This is just another storm that I have to weather in my life. My skin is tough.”
While Arreola didn’t perform well in his past three fights in 2015 — struggling for a win over Curtis Harper in March 2015, being held to a draw against Fred Kassi in July 2015, and then just barely edging Travis Kauffman last December, only to have that win overturned for a positive marijuana test — Wilder knows the potential consequences of not taking this fight seriously and dedicating too much attention elsewhere.
“When you in the hurt business, you have no choice but to stay focused on the task that lies at hand. If you not focused, you can get knocked out,” he said. “He’s [Arreola’s] been blessed with a third opportunity, and if I was him I would take it very seriously. Another reason we chose Chris, no matter what people say, the guy comes to fight.”
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]