Wilder: Joshua isn't ready for me
Deontay Wilder's third defence of his WBC World heavyweight title was supposed to be in Russia against Alexander Povetkin. With the cancellation of that fight now wrapped up in legal proceedings, the champion now has a new foe in Chris Arreola. Wilder spoke to Boxing Monthly about Arreola, Povetkin, Anthony Joshua and the division's number one fighter, Tyson Fury.
BM: This is Chris Arreola’s third world title shot, do you believe he deserves a third opportunity?
DW: Personally, I don’t think he deserves a third world title shot, no. But for this situation he’s perfect. It’s at short notice, and when we were looking for a short notice fighter we needed someone with heart and that was going to come and fight. Whether he’s in shape or not Chris Arreola comes to fight, and he can sell tickets. There’s no fight you can find with Chris Arreola that was a boring fight. Yeah, there was a lot of guys names but few was available. Let’s be real: who was going to be ready at short notice? It had to be a guy that can really fight and comes to fight. He doesn’t deserve a third shot but for this situation he’s the perfect guy.
BM: This fight takes place back home for you in Alabama. Your last two fights there haven’t been dull, do you feel as though you have to put on a show when you fight in front of your home fans?
DW: I have to put on a show anywhere I go, not just at home. Fighting at home is the hard part. All your people is going to be there. Whether they’re family or not they’re from Alabama and they’re going to be there. I got the hometown crowd and sometimes I think that’s the hardest crowd to fight in front of, because they expect a lot of things from you and you want to give it to them. No pressure, though. I love fighting at home and in front of my hometown crowd, and I’m going to continue to do it at home. It’s still all fairly new to the state of Alabama. I’ve already made history and will continue to make history throughout the state of Alabama.
BM: Your last fight against Artur Szpilka ended in a big KO for you. Have you thrown many better punches than that right hand which ended the fight?
DW: I’m known for knocking people out, that’s what I do. I’m a master at that, I’m an artist of it. I throw my hands at will so when I see an opening, I throw it. People don’t know but I’m very smart in the ring, I’m very intelligent. The things I can see; the things I’m setting up for. Just because it takes a couple of rounds to set up doesn’t mean nothing. With Szpilka he was an awkward fighter. I haven’t fought a southpaw in years and he was a very awkward guy, and I had to adjust to him and stay tuned to him. The opening that he showed me when I threw the right hand had been there all along. He’d been showing it to me throughout the whole fight. I was just waiting and timing it for the perfect moment. When I threw it and knocked him out that was the perfect moment in the fight.
BM: Speaking of the Szpilka fight how does it affect you when you’ve knocked out an opponent?
DW: I definitely want to hurt my opponent, knock them out and get them out of there coz I’m known for knockouts. But I don’t want to hurt them to the extent they can’t go back to their families and enjoy their kids [and] they can’t enjoy their loved ones. I’m not in it for that reason. Like I said, this is the hurt business. I do want to hurt my fighter and get them out of there as clean as possible. I don’t want to hurt them to the extent they have to go to the hospital and they’re facing near death or anything like that. When that does happen I don’t just feel for them, I feel for their family. And if they have kids, I even more feel for them because I’m a father myself. My kids understand what I do. They know what I do, that things can happen, even my 11-year-old daughter. She doesn’t want her daddy to get knocked out, she understands what a knockout is. When these guys are on the canvas I do feel for them because I don’t want their kids to look at me as a bad guy or someone who hurt their dad. I want them to be able to be proud of their dad, who can get up and go back to their family.
BM: After Anthony Joshua’s win over Dominic Breazeale you called for a unification with the IBF champion. You watched the fight in the Showtime studios in America, what was your thoughts on Joshua’s performance?
DW: I think the young man has been doing a good job with the opponents’ that have been put in front of him. You can’t take that from him. I think Breazeale put up a great fight as well. They love Anthony in the UK. Boxing is a big deal in the UK, I wish it was the same in America. He did a good job. I feel now it’s time to step with the big boys. He’s got the belt. Everybody hollering the fight Wilder v Joshua, and I think it’s about that time. The time to see who’s the man. To establish yourself well you gotta please the American crowd, that’s just how it is. No matter how big you is in another country, America is where it is, where dreams come true and opportunity arises. I think it’s about that time. [Eddie] Hearn [Joshua's promoter] already said he wants to make that fight sooner than later, and I’m ready. Ready to claim the next part of the belts, that’s for sure.
BM: You said you wished boxing was the big deal in America that it is in the UK right now. What’s missing?
DW: In America you have to be already established and on top for people to pay attention. We have so many things going on in America, so many interests. So many different sports that people take liking of. As kids we have so many things going on. Here, you have to be at the top for people to pay attention, like I said. You [UK] guys, if a fighter seems to have any kind of ability or can become a world prospect people jump on board already. People already support and follow no matter what. I think that’s a great thing.
BM: If a fight with Joshua doesn’t happen soon do you have other people on your radar?
DW: My goal is to unify the division. I want to be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. The closer I can get to my goal, the better. With that being said, whoever has the titles that’s who I want. I really don’t want any other guy. I don’t want handpicked [opponents]. Of course I want the best of the best, but I want the guys that have the titles. If you’ve got a title, then I look forward to unifying the division. The person that unifies the division, and has all the belts, that’s the real heavyweight champion of the world. It’ll really spark boxing back to its peak and the way it was back in the day, because right now there’s too many belts. People get confused. You’ve got one title that has a regular champion, an interim champion and you got a super champion. That’s too much! I just want it to be one face, one name and that’s Deontay Wilder.
BM: You’ve had more than twice as many fights as Joshua, have developed more as a fighter and been a world champion longer. Do you think Joshua is ready for you?
DW: Personally, I don’t think he’s ready for me at all. But due to the fact that belt has been pushed on him, when you’ve got a title you gotta be prepared and ready for whatever. Whether he’s ready or not it’s just the situation that he’s in. He’s gotta stay ready at all times because everybody wants what he’s got. When I got my WBC belt, whether I was ready or not, everybody wants this belt. Same rules apply to him. You’re a title holder, you’re not safe with no-one. The champions that have the belts they want the remaining belts. The prospects that don’t have belts… guess what? They want belts. Whether you’re ready or not at this stage in the game, you have to be ready.
BM: The man who has all the belts, Tyson Fury, got very in your face after your last fight. He’s not fought since he beat Wladimir Klitschko. From the outside looking in what’s your thoughts on the Tyson Fury reign so far?
DW: I only worry about myself and what I do. Maybe he [Fury] feels he accomplished everything that he wanted to accomplish. He wanted to beat Klitschko, it don’t matter how ugly the fight was he beat him. Maybe that was his goal, maybe he don’t care about anything else. If he don’t take this sport seriously he really needs to retire because he’s going to get hurt, especially when it comes the time when I fight him. He’s going to get hurt. I’m not in it to make friends or please anyone but myself. I’m coming to knock you out, no matter what. He treats this as a joke, but I don’t play around. Other fighters know that when they see me, when they come in close and look in my eyes, and in my presence, they know that Deontay Wilder don’t play games. He’s the nicest guy in the world but when it comes to boxing he takes it very seriously, he ain’t playing no games.
BM: Do you still want the Povetkin fight? Does he, in your opinion, deserve another opportunity?
DW: I see it both ways. One side of me says he don’t deserve the opportunity. I would like to see legal action; I would like to see the WBC put the hammer down on this situation. On the other side of me, as the champion I’d love to still fight him. He stole something away from the fans and I want to give it back to the fans. I would love to still fight him after everything’s over and done with. It’s even more fire to the flame that make me whoop him worse than I was going to whoop him before.
BM: What’s your opinion on drugs in boxing and what would like to see happen to fighters who conclusively fail drug tests?
DW: Anybody that gets caught with illegal drugs in their system, especially strong drugs and steroids, different things like that they should definitely for their first offence be suspended for two years. The second time they get caught they should be suspended indefinitely or thrown in prison. Why I say that is because boxing is already a dangerous sport without you putting something in your body to enhance. If it’s not vitamins or something like that to keep your immune system healthy, you shouldn’t be able to use anything. This is the hurt business as it is. And for a fighter to take something so that their body can do something that it’s not supposed to do normally, they should be thrown in jail because you’re going to kill someone. Just imagine if I took any kind of steroid in my last fight against Szpilka. I already thought I killed him. I thought I killed him when I hit him. Just imagine if I had something in my system, I would have done even more damage to him. He probably would have been dead, and in this sport we don’t need that. I think fighters that use different drugs, it hurts the sport. It makes people not interested if you’re going to do that. Nothing should be used, period.