America’s hard-hitting heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder returns to the ring against Luis Ortiz on Saturday. It is the second time he’ll fight the technically-skilled Cuban having overcome a mid-fight scare to stop the veteran in the 10th round of a title fight last year.
Stopping opponents is what Wilder does best. Once he pulls the trigger on that explosive right hand of his, it is often game over for those who are in his crosshairs.
In the 42 professional bouts Wilder has fought, only Tyson Fury provided a stiff challenge as he lasted the distance in a disputed draw, but even he was knocked down twice in that 2018 ruckus.
But away from the ring, from training camps, and from boxing as a whole, Wilder still finds himself pulling triggers.
Living in Alabama, Wilder has a firearms collection at his Tuscaloosa home so huge he told BT Sport last year it would kit out an army.
And, speaking to Business Insider on Tuesday, the 34-year-old said he even has a favorite weapon in his arsenal a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol.
“I’m in love with this she’s a bronze-looking color and the hammer on it is camoflage and shines like varnish,” Wilder said. “The grip on it is amazing, so tight. It fits so comfortable in my hand and allows me to manoeuver.”
Wilder, it seems, is the John Wick of boxing
He added that he likes using the weapon “John Wick”-style on an obstacle-strewn range.
The Hollywood actor Keanu Reeves was taught to shoot guns for the hitman movie “John Wick” by Taran Butler, a world champion competition shooter and the owner of Taran Tactical. This firm is responsible for training action movie stars to operate firearms on screen, Insider previously reported .
“I go to a SWAT team gun range and do different obstacles and courses with the gun,” he said. “Shooting guns at the range is like a relaxation type of thing. It’s a stress-reliever.
“People always talk about guns being violent but it’s not really the gun, it’s the people who use it. Half the people who have guns don’t properly know how to use the gun, and if you don’t properly know how to use that product you’re gonna do some things, probably something you can’t take back, and that’s why some things happen.”
It’s not just guns Wilder owns, but rocket launchers, too. “My little rocket launcher I like things like that. Most of the time I have artefacts that are more for the collection. Though it can be used I have no desire to really use it. It’s more for show.
“I have high-power rifles and some kind of chemicals to mix up and allow it to explode and we do that at times, but explosions I’m not too interested in. It’s just something exciting to see, but I’m not crazy about it.”
Wilder is the most explosive man in boxing
It may seem odd that Wilder prefers the relaxation of shooting a Smith & Wesson to the loud chaos of a grenade explosion when you consider the way in which most of his fights end with opponents slumped on the canvas, concussed.
But there is an underrated brilliance to Wilder.
The power-puncher is oft-seen as a knockout artist alone, but there have been great technical advancements to his fighting style over the years.
Yes, he knocks out 95% of his opponents, the highest percentage ever recorded in heavyweight history, ranking him above renowned hitters like Vitali Klitschko (87%), George Foreman (84%), and Mike Tyson (76%).
But his appreciation of distance and timing is excellent, and his jab is one of the most accurate out of all active fighters in boxing. Ahead of the Fury bout in 2018, Wilder landed 32.5% of his jabs according to Compubox data , which is higher than the division average of 25.5. Even including his fights after this, he still lands more than 30% of his jabs .
Wilder told Business Insider this evolution is just down to experience. He said that, even in his mid-30s, he gets better with every training camp and every fight, has a lot of data inside his head, and that it is simply down to muscle memory and intuition when it comes to foot-placement and distance-measuring. Timing a shot, Wilder says, is now just second nature to him.
When you watch Wilder fight, you see him pop that jab out. You see that wild hammer of a right hand and you might even see him dodge shots, take cover, and reload like he’s on a SWAT-team shooting range acting out “John Wick” fantasies.
Then, you’ll see a ferocious attack which often leads to an over-celebrated finish. He’ll cup his mouth, scream “Bomb squad!” at the top of his lungs, then put the rest of the heavyweight division on blast.
Wilder is often criticized, but says he cannot let that bother him
Out of the ring he is still under attack. In the last year, the former boxer Tony Bellew and the British fight promoter Eddie Hearn have both called Wilder terrible.
Criticisms of Wilder also transcend the sport. Earlier this year, he was rebuked for saying he wanted to “get me a body” on his boxing record by killing an opponent. He said that boxing is “the only sport where you can kill a man and get paid for it.”
These are criticisms the American is used to, expects, and doesn’t believe will disappear until he is long gone from the sport.
“I know people don’t appreciate me as much as I should be appreciated now,” he said. “But, you know, they will when I retire from the sport. Sometimes it’s like that.
“To be able to do what I’m doing, some people have never seen this happen in their lifetime. To be able to knock down everybody every time I fight, I land somebody on the canvas. I’m one of the most exciting fighters in boxing, period. Because of my knockout, because of what I can do to a man.”
He added: “Fighters have to be perfect against me for 36 minutes but I only have to be perfect for 12 seconds. Y’know, during a Deontay Wilder fight you cannot sit down, turn your head away from the TV, go get any type of food, go to the bathroom or anything. I definitely don’t get enough credit.
“But it’s not a thing that bothers me. I don’t let that bother me. I can’t let every little thing bother me otherwise I won’t be able to focus. I just know what I’m doing. I got so much other stuff going on. I’m collecting wins.”
Wilder said his mindset is about performance on Saturday. “The ‘Bronze Bomber’ is ready to do what he do each and every time he steps in the ring and that’s knock somebody out,” he said.
He vows to put on a clinic in his rematch against Ortiz at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this weekend before the rematch against Fury is confirmed, another fight that will test his ever-developing John Wick-esque skills.
“This is a fight fans not gon’ want to miss.”
Source: Alan Dawson