Deontay Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title reign will come full circle on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn when he takes on Bermane Stiverne. The bout, which can be seen on Showtime with the broadcast starting at 9 p.m. ET, will be a rematch of their fight from January 2015 in which Wilder (38-0-0, 37 KOs) took the belt off of Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs) in a unanimous decision.
While Wilder was dominant in the fight, it remains the only time the champ hasn’t knocked out an opponent, so heading into his sixth title defense, there’s an air of unfinished business. However, there’s more that makes this bout intriguing. Wilder wasn’t supposed to fight Stiverne. He was supposed to go toe-to-toe with Luis Ortiz (27-0-0, 23 KOs) in a matchup of undefeated knockout artists that fell through when Ortiz failed a drug test.
It’s the second time Wilder has seen an opponent get pulled off of a fight for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, as his mandatory bout in Russia with Alexander Povetkin last year fell apart the same way. This time, Stiverne was ready to step into Ortiz’s place, however, and Wilder will get his second bout of the year (and second bout since tearing his biceps and breaking his hand against Chris Arreola).
This week, Wilder spoke with UPROXX Sports about coming back from injury, taking care of unfinished business with Stiverne, the frustration of seeing opponents fail drug tests, a potential unification bout with Anthony Joshua, why he’s gotten into fashion, his prediction for when Stiverne goes down, and more.
How did camp go and how are you feeling heading into Saturday night?
Everything is going well, man. I’m doing good. I’m feeling great, I can’t wait for Saturday night. It can’t come any sooner. I woke up this morning thinking it was Wednesday. It’s only Tuesday.
What is it like for you the week of a fight? You always seem so eager to be in the ring. How do you kind of calm yourself and make sure that you’re taking the proper steps the week before to get ready and stay patient?
I think for me, because it’s different for different fighters, you know a lot of fighters get into superstitious stuff and certain things they want to do. Some want to be alone, some, you know what works for you. What works for me is just being me, silly, being around people whether I know them or not, just enjoying life, steered in a positive light, at peace. Then when I get closer to the fight, that’s when I really just zone in to what I need to do. Although, during the week, I’m still focused, like now. Although I’ll talk to the media and traveling, I’m 100% still focused, but I’m at another focus. When I get closer to the fight, I’m going to be super focused. I like the way I am. God definitely didn’t make a mistake when he made me.
You’re now in your second fight back from the biceps injury and the broken hand. What did that Washington fight prove to yourself and the rest of the boxing world about you coming back?
It really doesn’t, to be honest, it didn’t prove nothing to me because once I obtained the belt I always had injuries. Even when I won the belt I had an injury. I broke my hand in third round. I ruptured my eye socket and I couldn’t see in that fight. Obtaining the belt and anything after it, I’ve always fought through pain and injuries. That’s just me, so beating Washington, coming off injuries, it was nothing that I proved to myself. It was something I already knew that I could do from previous fights and stuff like that, with experience.
Every time you go through something in that ring, or even through life, it should be a lesson, and experience you can take from that. Whether it was good or bad, you learn, and you apply that to your life, that’s how people become wise through knowledge.