WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has been guilty of saying some ridiculous and insensitive things in recent months but will occasionally get lucky and say something interesting.
These moments are few and far between, admittedly, but Wilder, when he’s in the mood, can be a charismatic, captivating individual with plenty of insightful and revealing stuff to say. Not afraid to hold back, Wilder is part troublemaker, part truth-teller, part hype man and tends to switch between the three depending on the situation.
Ahead of his fight this Saturday (May 18) against fellow American Dominic Breazeale, the champion has been much too open about his evil intentions (not good) but has also touched on the performance-enhancing drug problem blighting not only the heavyweight division but boxing as a whole (good). Let’s today focus on the latter.
“I’ve been saying that [Jarrell] Miller was doing some things and he isn’t the only one,” Wilder told BBC World Service Sport’s Ade Adedoyin. “That’s the sad part about it.
“These guys, they think they are smart. They try to play the system because when one drug gets caught there is another behind it that’s getting created that we don’t have the technology to detect.
“And it’s a lot of fighters that’s on it. I know the doctors that do it to them.
“It’s just a shame that it’s involved in boxing. Such a brutal sport.
“People always want to question me about the things that I say, like killing a man in the ring.
“It’s one thing about my words. But it’s another thing about my actions.
“But when you get guys that are putting things in their body. To enhance their body to do something that it’s not meant to do. Putting certain drugs that give rats cancer and give you stamina to do certain things. Their actions are speaking louder than words.”
The point Wilder makes about action and words is an interesting one.
Certainly, it’s one thing saying you want to damage another human being and another thing actively seeking unfair advantages to achieve this on fight night. Wilder says some terrible things pre-fight. He has a history of it. But, to date, the WBC champion has yet to fail a performance-enhancing drug test and, unlike other heavyweights, isn’t bending the rules in an attempt to make his predictions come true. Instead, he is sticking within the rules of a violent sport but refusing to water down his pre-fight mindset for those who will pay to watch him punch another man in the head on Saturday night. It’s not pretty, it shouldn’t be encouraged, yet plenty in the heavyweight division have been forgiven for worse, celebrated for worse and allowed to get away with attempted murder. That shouldn’t be forgotten, either.
Former WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders says he will attempt to make a super-middleweight unification fight against WBA super-middleweight champion Callum Smith if he wins – as he should – against Shefat Isufi on Saturday (May 18) in Stevenage.
Saunders and Isufi meet in a bizarre WBO super-middleweight title fight this weekend after former champion Gilberto Ramirez vacated the belt to explore new terrain at light-heavyweight. It’s bizarre not so much because Ramirez left the belt behind but because Saunders has yet to officially compete as a super-middleweight and Isufi, an unheralded German, has no standout victories at the weight. Brought together by default more than anything, it’s tough to make a case for either entering the super-middleweight top 10, let alone staking their claim to the number one spot.
“I will make the Callum Smith fight, if he wants it, the day after I win,” Saunders told The Mirror. “I’ll get my team on the phone and if we can do that fight, then let’s make it.
“He’s a brilliant fighter at 168 (pounds) and I’d be willing to sign for a unification the day after I fight. He’s done very well. He’s achieved so much, and I have a lot of respect for him. But it’s a fight I believe I can win.
“He will believe his size will play a big part in it, but I haven’t been beaten on British soil since I was 13. I have a good record here and I believe I can beat any super-middleweight or middleweight in the world.
“I think a world title brings out the true colours in people. Let’s see how they react if you want a unification because a lot of people are blinded by the dollar bill. All us British fighters, we’re not getting any younger and we need to get these big fights on and give them to the fans and the public.
“We don’t want to have a Matthew Macklin, Martin Murray and Darren Barker situation. All of us have got to start fighting each other to see who the best is so we can answer the fans’ questions. I’m very excited because I think winning this title will open a lot of doors for me.”
One door Saunders believed was closed was Chris Eubank Jnr’s, the fellow Brit he defeated back in 2014. Eubank Jnr, however, has, like Saunders, now found his way to super-middleweight from middleweight and that, too, could be a future option for the Hatfield man either this year or next.
“Do I need his business? No,” he said. “Would I take it? Yes. I can go to sleep at night knowing that I beat him. But he goes to sleep thinking about that loss on his record. I think of the 27 wins. I don’t care if I never fight him again. My main goal is to be the best I can and to fight the best.”
Just not this weekend.