Deontay Wilder Wants to Be More Than Heavyweight Champ

By Morales, Robert | Pasadena Star-News, December 9, 2015 | Go to article overview

Deontay Wilder Wants to Be More Than Heavyweight Champ


Morales, Robert, Pasadena Star-News


Now that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is allegedly retired, heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder wants to carry the torch for boxing.

"Oh, most definitely," Wilder said. "After Floyd went out, up pops Deontay Wilder. That's the plan. That's always been the plan and I'm making sure that plan is played out like it's supposed to."

The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native will defend his title Saturday against Johann Duhaupas of France at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Ala. (5:30 p.m., NBC).

With ambitions like Wilder's, you'd think the last thing he'd want would be to have his second title defense come against a relatively unknown fighter.

Duhaupas is the No. 11-ranked contender to Wilder's belt, but he is not ranked by any other major body. He's also never fought in the U.S., toiling mostly in France, Switzerland and Germany.

One of his two losses was in March to Erkan Teper, who is the No. 10-ranked contender to Wilder's title. Maybe Duhaupas can fight. But this could be one of those miserable mismatches.

Wilder (34-0, 33 KOs) was talking up Duhaupas as the real deal at this week's final news conference.

"If anyone is looking past him, they're a fool," Wilder, 29, said. "He's a tall guy with a good record who's never been knocked out. I have friends all over the world who have told me not to look past him."

Wilder then went the "any man" route.

"Any man that steps in the ring, definitely gets my full attention in respect," he said. "The heavyweights are the hard- hitters. When people get dressed up to see a heavyweight fight, there's one thing they want to see - knockouts."

Wilder's trainer also got into the act.

"If anyone is looking past Duhaupas, it's not us," Jay Deas said. "We've been focused on him since Day 1. This is the biggest challenge of Deontay Wilder's career. Deontay knows what a challenge this is."

Well, we're going to find out.

As for Duhaupas, 34, it seems like he might almost be in awe of this situation.

"It's an immense pleasure to be boxing here in the United States," he said. …

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