The Bronze Bomber, Deontay Wilder, hits hard. As a matter of fact, there’s a case to be made that, with his 91.3% KO rate, he rates among the all-time hardest hitters in the heavyweight division.
There’s also a case to be made that the Tuscaloosa, Alabama native has one of the more, interesting, mindsets in boxing’s colorful history.
Wilder’s own “colorfulness” really began to manifest itself after his first career loss, via seventh-round TKO , to Tyson Fury in February of 2020, fourteen months after a controversial draw with the Irishman. Post-defeat, the 6-foot-7 former WBC heavyweight champ went public with a host of eyebrow-raising excuses for the setback, ranging from too-heavy ring walk attire to a complex conspiracy to derail his career.
In an interview with 78SPORTSTV, conducted at the time, Wilder would dive deep into the conspiracy theory, which not only included a Fury loaded glove, but also involved fired co-trainer Mark Breland (who threw in the towel to end the Fury bout) and even referee Kenny Bayless.
“About 15 minutes before going out to the fight, warming up on the mitts, it was perfect, I felt great…Until I went to the ring. That transformation, I was drinking certain water and stuff, trying to keep myself hydrated.
“I just start feeling weird. My water was spiked as if I took a muscle relaxer or something like that.
“…the atmosphere [before the fight] just didn’t seem right. It felt like something was about to go down, and not in my favor…It wasn’t just the [ring walk] suit, my water was tampered with…It was like I had no control over my body, my legs was weak and stuff like that.”
“I believe he [Breland] was part of it. He was part of it. And, even more so, I think he’s got something to do with my water as well too. He was the only one handling my water. He was the only one. I have strong sources.
“…[Also] The referee [Bayless] coming in the dressing room, I could feel his negative energy. His eyes looked like he took a cocktail drink before going into the fight. His energy felt like, ‘I’m gonna do something to you black man, but I’ve gotta do it. I’m a crab in the bucket.’
“He was leaning on me [during the fight], he elbowed me as well. Elbowed me in my face as well too.
“…Either this motherf****er was drunk or he was part of it.”
A rematch with Fury the following year, which resulted in an eleventh-round KO loss this time, did nothing to end Wilder’s belief that he’d been wronged by forces beyond his control.
A year later, the former champ would return to the ring, crushing The Nordic Nightmare, Robert Helenius in one round and showcasing a public persona that was now bubbling over with peace and love.
“I hope all you guys make it home safely,” Wilder told the crowd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn after smashing his opponent. “We gotta spread more love out here, man. There’s nothing wrong with loving each other, hugging each other. Tell someone you love them and mean it. Look them in the eyes and tell them you love them. There’s so much hate in this world and we need to change that. As the people, we can change it.”
Then, after the fight, caught on video, there was a more-than-slightly-uncomfortable-to-watch 42-second “Are you okay? I love you man. I’m sorry” hug Wilder gave to Helenius in The Nordic Nightmare’s hotel room.
Now, Wilder is back, tied to a title eliminator against fellow former champ Andy Ruiz and, well, his mindset is still, interesting.
“People been updating me on things,” Wilder told ESNEWS. “I hear he’s been talking…but keep talking, keep boosting it up because when everything’s signed, sealed, and delivered, and put on play, it ain’t no more play, play, no more turning around…
“Andy’s a good fighter…I like his speed. I like his willingness and his bravery, but it’s not gonna be enough for me, though. He’s gonna have to [put] an extra recipe on top of it…everything he’s got…he’s gotta put some more on it…because I am the man, I am that man. That’s why they fear me. With me, you’re gonna have to need extra help.
“People don’t come and see me for no titles and stuff like that no more…People come to see me knock people out. So, I don’t have to have the titles. I don’t have to have belts. People come to see me for what I do. That’s why you don’t see people booing when there’s nothing [going] on, because they know it’s coming. What do I always say? You don’t know when it’s coming, but it’s coming. When it comes– bam, baby good night!”
Say what you will about Deontay Wilder, but never let it be said that the man is not entertaining.