Deontay Wilder traveled from minimum wage in the kitchen at Red Lobster to a seven-figure payday in primetime on Fox. Knocking out 36 men along the away tends to affect a man’s bank account in such ways.
“I was working at a Red Lobster,” the WBC heavyweight champion tells Breitbart Sports. “I was working in the kitchen. I was working at Budweiser driving a truck. I was grinding, trying to provide for my family while doing my career in boxing as well.”
The tower of power enters the ring on Fox Saturday night boasting a Tysonesque 37-0 record with 36 knockouts. But whereas Iron Mike once mugged old ladies for their money, Wilder worked hard for his money. When asked whether he ever caught any of the thirsty thieves who often trail beer trucks, Wilder answers that good for him and good for the beer bandits that the police got them first.
“I despise a thief,” the Alabaman notes. “If I would have ever caught one, it would have been bad for them.”
Wilder hopes to catch up to Gerald Washington (18-0-1, 12 KOs) and make it bad for him on Fox Saturday night. Like Wilder, he’s tall, undefeated, and wields power in his right hand. He’s a stiff challenge rather than a stiff of a challenger.
Wilder doesn’t worry about a fighter near his height making him uncomfortable the way Tyson Fury caused fits for Wladimir Klitschko.
“We’re sticking with the same game plan,” the six-foot-seven boxer notes. “We didn’t have to change sparring partners. I prefer taller fighters, anyway. I mix ‘em up.”
What the athletic Wilder likes best about taller foes is their speed, or lack thereof.
“I think my athleticism carries me,” Wilder admits. “It definitely plays a major part is my style. My athleticism is my defense. It allows you to be more mobile. It definitely gets you out of situations.”
Certainly an impregnable, earmuffs defense does not serve as a part of his style. Wilder drops his hands often. What looks like a perilous strategy, particularly for the heavyweight division, works for Wilder.
“That’s just part of who I am,” he explains. “I am a very smart fighter. I’m very intelligent when it comes to the ring. Just because my hands are down, I know what I’m doing. It’s a baiting mechanism. I throw it down to distract him sometimes.”
Aside from the obvious power, Wilder plays crowd pleaser by throwing bolo punches and shouting “Wooo!” after landing an effective shot. He employs impressive footwork for a big man and flicks a pawing jab that occasionally morphs into a stiff one. His size helps. But his athleticism, rare for super-sized heavyweights, helps more. In an era when Europe dominates the big-boy division, Wilder offers stateside fans a Great American Hope.
The workingman’s champion likes the idea of fighting on free television. So, too, do the workingman. Recalling the era of Wide World of Sports airing the best fights for the right price, Premier Boxing Champions repeatedly offers fans one of the most exciting big men for free. This likely pays big dividends once the audience grows for a blockbuster subscription fight.
“I think it’s definitely good if it’s on national TV,” Wilder tells Breitbart Sports. “Money is too hard to come by. Some fights don’t live up to the hype. Thank God I’m an exciting heavyweight. Because if I ever do pay-per view, people will get their money’s worth.”
That day may come by year’s end.
“Once I beat Gerald Washington, I’m going straight for Joseph Parker,” the WBC titlist says of his plan. “After that, we may have a mandatory lined up. And at the end of the year, I get the winner of Klitschko-[Anthony] Joshua.”
That massive payday, Wilder insists, will come as a result of so many smaller paydays.
“I’m still to this day very grateful,” the blue-collar boxer tells Breitbart Sports. “No shortcuts for me. Nothing has been given to me. That allows me to be who I am now: a down-to-earth, humble, people’s champion.”