Deontay Wilder is the ‘one punch’ man aiming for heavyweight history

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Roll up, roll up. The Deontay Wilder circus is about to hit Las Vegas again.

The American believes most think of him as a freak show fit for the big top.

Wilder, 34, is certainly something extraordinary.

Forty-one men have been knocked out by his booming right hand.

Bermane Stiverne managed to see out all 12 rounds once but didn’t get past the first three minutes of their rematch.

Perhaps the real freak is the only man who has not been counted out against him.

That man, Tyson Fury, steps into that circus ring with him again next week.

Wilder’s whole career could be played as a knockout highlight reel so far.

The unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion hopes Fury joins the montage when they meet in Las Vegas, a city which knows a thing or two about big circus acts, for their huge rematch next weekend after their first fight in 2018 ended in a controversial draw.

“At this point, how can I say it without being arrogant?” the Alabama native said.

“I’ve been doing it for 12 years over and over again.

“Every time you see my highlights, you see guys go, you see bodies hitting the canvas in unbelievable fashion and style.

“I’m still doing it now.

“For me if people label me as the hardest hitting heavyweight in history then I accept it and I agree.

“We have seen nobody do this before.

“The ones who don’t want to believe – who we call haters – they can’t always keep the drum beating that it was the opposition not being up to it.

“But just because you punch someone in the face, doesn’t mean you can knock them out.

“The math doesn’t add up, the science doesn’t allow it to work that way.

“We are witnessing greatness with me and we are witnessing something we have never seen in our lives.

“Everyone has greatness in them but it is only displayed by service and I bring the service.

“My grandmother told me years ago when I was young that I was anointed by God and now I understand.”

So in the city which has Cirque du Soleil trapeze acts up and down the Strip and even an ageing hotel in the shape of a big top tent, the crowds will gather for the latest showpiece next weekend at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

But to think he is just clowning around before delivering the show stopping right hand would be ignorant to his craft.

Wilder is no ringmaster, but you still have to lead someone on to his big act.

Fighters won’t walk into the devastating knockout shot, they have to be guided to it.

Simply watch his last win over Luis Ortiz.

The Cuban veteran had won every second of the bout until what looked like a lazy left from Wilder in the seventh set up that right hand to lay his man out for the count.

“My skill is 100 per cent overlooked because I mesmerise people with the right hand,” he said.

“That’s all they know of Deontay Wilder.

“They want to see the amazing moment, the moment that this guy finally hits a guy with a right hand.

“’The One punch man’ they say. They already feel my legacy.

“When I retire I will be a legend.

“People just wait to see what happens when Wilder hits him.

“It’s like a circus, it’s like a freak show. They want to see the freak. I’m freakish.

“People want to see that but that makes them blinded to the skill that gives me the opportunity to display the freakishness of me.

“People are blind for my skills, you have to have eye co-ordination, speed, footwork to then be able to put your fist where the target is.

“These guys are trying to get out of the way – they’re not trying to get hit by me.

“But being able to have this tremendous power means I could survive any era. Nobody could deny that.”

But, for Wilder, it is all a blur. In fact, he doesn’t feel the knockout power in the moment and instead is left in shock when he watches the replay on the big screen minutes later.

“It’s an indescribable feeling,” said the Tuscaloosa-born boxer.

“It’s one I still try to search for now.

“Every time I knock an opponent out I’m still surprised of myself when I see it in the replays.

“When I go back and look I’m still shocked even though I’m the one who was participating in the event and I did what I did.

“I’m still amazed at what I do. It is unbelievable.

“When I’m in the ring I’m the Bronze Bomber and my mission is to knock his head off. He’s trying to do the same thing or at least thinking about it.

“You have to have the confidence and belief you can do something. I pre-warn my opponents what will happen before it happens and over 12 years I’ve made it happen.”

To survive in any era is a bold claim considering the greats that have gone before.

But Wilder wants to go down in history alongside the legends who have predated him.

And the Bronze Bomber – nicknamed so because of his power and Olympic medal colour at Beijing 2008 Olympics – believes he gets there by cleaning up the heavyweight division over the next six years.

“That’s the goal,” he said. “It isn’t a matter of if, it’s when. I have six years. I’m going to go strong for six years. Believe that.

“There’s quite a lot to be done in that time for sure. The pace I’m going at, I could clean the division out in six years.”

Most would scoff that even beating Fury next weekend and again in a third fight then dethroning Anthony Joshua of his WBA, IBF and WBO titles would put him anywhere near the greats of the sport.

This is simply not classed as a glorious era of heavyweights, certainly not one which would match the times the likes of Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and even Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis ruled the world.

But Wilder disagrees.

And he feels he is the one who will ensure this era will go down as one of the best.

“I want this sport to be entertaining,” he said.

“I want this era to be the best. Most of the time when people say ‘This era was the best, or this era was the best’ some of these people haven’t even seen a fight in that era in their life or maybe just one or two.

“Not everyone is an historian, not everyone has kept up with the sport like that.

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“I am bringing the heavyweight division back. It’s amazing.

“I remember a time nobody knew who the heavyweight champion of the world was.

“Being a heavyweight in the division I wanted to make change and I think our mission is accomplished.”

We will see if Wilder goes down in history as a true heavyweight legend. But he is certainly more than a circus act.

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