Sweet Home Alabama: Deontay Wilder Brings It

By Robert Ecksel on June 11, 2015
Sweet Home Alabama: Deontay Wilder Brings It
“Everything about me is real. I don’t have flip personalities. I’m not a fake person.”

Wilder made me eat my words the night he beat Stiverne, which was a fine hors d’oeuvre for an entrée of crow with collards and hush puppies…

“The combat environment has the effect of flattening out civilian identities. If you’re young or old, or a graduate from Harvard or the son of a farmer from Alabama, or if you’re gay or straight or good-looking or ugly: none of those things matters much in combat, as long as you can conform to the group expectations.”—Sebastian Junger

On Saturday, June 13, at the Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, in a fight televised live on Showtime Championship Boxing, WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs), aka The Bronze Bomber, from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, defends his title against Eric “Drummer Boy” Molina (23-2, 17 KOs), from Raymondville, Texas.

When Wilder defeated Bermane Stiverne in January to win the title, he displayed boxing skills few knew he had. Everyone knew the big guy could knock men out. Few knew he could box. When Stiverne stopped Chris Arreola in May of last year he looked unbeatable. Unfortunately, when he fought Wilder at the MGM Grand, B. Ware looked anything but. He had excuses for the loss, but no excuses were necessary since Wilder was superb that night, more superb than many believed he was capable of looking.

In choosing Molina for the first defense of his title, Wilder by his own admission is taking a backward step. He’s not stepping as far back as Jason Gavern and Nicolai Firtha, for which we can be grateful, but his most meaningful challenges lay ahead.

Molina, who will go down swinging, is on a five-fight winning streak and has starched the last three men he faced, including what has been called “a career best win” over 45-year-old DaVarryl Williamson. His single loss, aside from suffering a first round knockout in his debut in 2007, came against Chris Arreola in 2012, another first round knockout, which is a little too significant to ignore.

In anticipation of Saturday’s fight, Wilder recently met with the press via teleconference call and to describe him as voluble is an understatement. He’s as comfortable talking as he is knocking men out, and no matter the question, however challenging or in most cases not, Wilder holds court like a king in the Games of Thrones.

No one ever mistook Alabama as a boxing hotbed. But Wilder’s first title defense is, in a very real sense, the return of the prodigal son, especially to Alabamans.

“We’re going to make history come June 13,” he said, “by having the first title fight of any division in the state of Alabama, and that’s a pleasure and definitely an honor to me. Sometimes things start with a dream, and they say dreams do come true, but dreams only come true if you allow them to. I dreamt it. I spoke it into existence. I believe in the power of the tongue and I made my dream come true, and now we about to have it, about to make it the biggest thing in the state of Alabama. It’s just a blessing. I’m a blessing to the state of Alabama.”

The win over Stiverne was Wilder’s first fight as a pro to go the distance. However decisive, some people are never satisfied and nothing less than a KO was a disappointment.

“I don’t live my life with pressure,” Wilder said. “I’m an easy-going person. People’s opinions about me don’t matter. I love to box. I love to be able to get in there and perform for the fans, but you can’t please everybody. There are too many billions of people in the world to try to please every opinion. Even when people said things about me, what I couldn’t do, my last fight I proved everything to them. That made me an even more dangerous fighter because now people know what I’m capable of doing. Not only that I’m a puncher, but I can box. I can have fun. I can go 12 rounds and make it seem like it is nothing. I can take a punch. There’s no pressure on me at all.

“I don’t go in there and try to look for the knockout, anyway. I go in there and let my hands go, and if I get the knockout, I get it. I would prefer the knockout, of course. This is a heavyweight division. It’s all based about power. When people get dressed up and come out to that fight, they come to see a knockout. They want to see a couple of rounds or whatever, to see what kind of skill and will that person has, maybe a little heart, and then they want to see the knockout because they’ve got other things planned for that night.”

I have nothing planned after the fight Saturday night, except to write about the fight. But I wouldn’t mind seeing a knockout either, even though I’m not from Alabama.

“To silence the critics,” continued Wilder, “that was such a joyful feeling for me. Some people know what they’re talking about. Most don’t know what they’re talking about, and it was a remarkable feeling to be able to silence the critics. It was even enjoyable to see their faces, to hear their voices, to have to eat their words.”

Wilder made me eat my words the night he beat Stiverne, which was a fine hors d’oeuvre for an entrée of crow with collards and hush puppies.

Wilder may be full of himself—every fighter is entitled to that—but he takes nothing for granted.

“No man can ever feel like he’s bigger than the next person because once you start doing that, you start loosening up, your training starts to get a little lighter because you’re not training, you don’t have that hunger any more, and a lot of things will start to get exposed. I don’t want to be that type of fighter that I feel like oh, I’m at the top now, I don’t have to train as hard as I was when I was a hungry fighter, because I’m still hungry. I’ve still got goals. I’m still looking to do things in this sport to make it bigger and better. I tell people all the time that even though I’m the WBC heavyweight champion of the world, my heart still feels like a contender, and by my heart still feeling like a contender, it keeps me humble. It keeps me grounded. It keeps me very, very hungry.”

Although Wilder holds the WBC belt, a belt he says is the “most prestigious,” some won’t be satisfied until he fights Wladimir Klitschko, who looked little short of awful in his last fight against Bryant Jennings.

“We all seen loose holes,” said Wilder. “We all see something that was there. If anybody says they didn’t, then they’re a liar. We all seen that, but when that time comes, I’m going to execute those things that I saw. But right now, it’s hard to talk about another fighter when you’ve got one fighter that you’re getting ready to face. My focus is not on another fighter because if I don’t get past him, we can forget talking about anybody else. It’s irrelevant to talk about anybody else if this fight isn’t done. It’s not over yet, so it’s hard for me to talk about another fighter when I’ve got a task that lies at hand. Once I get finished with Molina, then we can come back and talk about Klitschko.”

Another fighter that is looming large is Tyson Fury.

“I give Tyson a great percent of the chance of coming in and being a new world champion. It’s all going to depend on him, how serious he takes this business, this game, how serious he takes training and the preparation for that. All the taller fighters in the heavyweight divisions are taking over. We’ll see what Tyson has. We can only wait. But I wish him luck on everything he does and on becoming the world champion.”

No teleconference call would be complete without someone mentioning Floyd Mayweather. Knowing the answer in advance never prevented anyone from posing a question, so Wilder was asked if he could be bigger—not physically, that’s a done deal—than Money May.

“Definitely, most definitely, and I say that with high confidence because the heavyweight division is the cream of the crop in the first place, and the things that I bring, the excitement, the personality that I have, everything about me is all me, is totally me. Everything about me is real, everything you see. Nothing is scripted. Nothing is planned out, nothing. I can’t sit back and let somebody script something out about my life and what it is because it’ll be fake, and I won’t be able to go through with it because it wouldn’t be me. Some people, some guys when they have cameras in their face, they pursue to be a certain type of person. Their persona about them changes or whatever, and then when the camera is off, they’re a whole totally different person. I don’t have flip personalities. I’m not a fake person.”

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  1. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 02:37pm, 06/12/2015

    In the photo above it looks like Wilder is auditioning for a remake of King Solomon’s Mines.

  2. Eric 04:09pm, 06/11/2015

    Wilder reminds me of the late Big John Tate, both hail(ed) from the Deep South, both were black & large. Wilder, like Big John Tate,  will be exposed when he steps up in competition. John Tate Part Deux.

  3. Kid Blast 03:23pm, 06/11/2015

    Slaughter.

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