2008 Olympic bronze medalist Deontay Wilder is 26-0 with 26 KOs: "I just need to continue to work hard and continue to show up and do what I'm doing, which is knocking guys out. For me, you know, it's knocking everybody out."
Although undefeated Deontay "The Bronze Bomber" Wilder assessed himself as having done "a great job" with his Showtime-televised third-round knockout of previously unbeaten Kelvin Price on Saturday, the 27-year-old from Tuscaloosa, Ala., also said "I still have a long way to go."
Trained by Jay Deas as well as 1984 Olympic gold medalist and professional titleholder Mark Breland, Wilder rose to 26-0 with as many knockouts after his sensational right hand flattened Price (13-1, 6 KOs), whose claim to fame is having handed the lone defeat to New York prospect Tor Hamer (19-1, 12 KOs) by unanimous decision in May of 2010.
A 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, Wilder's victory was accomplished at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on the undercard of the Amir Khan-Carlos Molina main event.
"The one-punch knockout was spectacular, to say the least. So there is the power that he has, the speed that he has, and the hunger that he has," said Oscar De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions.
"But Deontay Wilder has to work more on his jab, because he has a tremendous jab. He has to work more on his head movement. I don't see many flaws in him other than the ones that I pointed out. So if Deontay Wilder can improve on just those things, he can be very, very dangerous."
In the aftermath, the 6-foot-7 boxer-puncher declared himself ready for fighters such as Philadelphia's 6-2 Bryant "Bye Bye" Jennings (16-0, eight KOs), who is coming off a fifth-round stoppage of Bowie Tupou on Dec. 8 and has scored his biggest victory over former WBO beltholder Siarhei Liakhovich by ninth-round knockout in March.
"It's time for him to have a taste of hostile territory. It's time for him to step it up, which we're going to do. We have to take him out of his element," said De La Hoya.
"Deontay needs to be in there with a guy that's going to push him back, and with a guy who is going to take his punch, and a guy that's going to go inside of the ring thinking, 'I'm going to win this.'"
Considered to be "the best heavyweight prospect by Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel "Manny" Steward before his death in October, Wilder served as a sparring partner for 6-6 RING, IBF, WBA and WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko -- who was trained by Steward -- in advance of last month's unanimous-decision victory over 6-7 Mariusz Wach by Klitschko.
"Deontay can be the next American heavyweight champion of the world," said De La Hoya. "It's a work in progress, but Deontay has all of the tools to be the next heavyweight champion of the world."
RingTV.com caught up to Wilder for a Q&A concerning his performance against Price, and what it means toward his future.
RingTV.com: Can you give me an assessment of your thought process as well as your overall performance against Price?
Deontay Wilder: I thought that I did a great job. I have a lot more that I can do, but when you're fighting against a fighter like Kelvin, different fighters bring out different styles, so you have to adjust to what they're bringing.
What I wanted I wanted to do was to work on setting him up for something. I didn't want to get wild, which we didn't. We stayed calm and didn't get wild, because that could have been easy to do because of the crowd.
But I deleted them out and just settled in. And I waited, and waited and waited for the opportunity. And there it was. BAM! Good night. So I felt really good, the defense was tight, and it was a good overall night.
RingTV.com: What did [co-trainers] Jay Deas and Mark Breland have to say about your performance?
DW: They love it, man. That was definitely what we trained for. We didn't want to rush nothing. We wanted to set it up and it was great. So we're not really worried about what others say.
This is my bomb squad, so we're going to do whatever it takes to win the fight, no matter whether we're going to slow or we're taking our time.
We're going to do what we've got to do, no matter what else anybody thinks about it. As long as we're satisfied with what we're doing, that's all that matters.
RingTV.com: Do you feel you are doing a good job as far as handling the heavier scrutiny concerning your status among the critics and your fans?
DW: Most definitely. That's coming with experience over the years. I've got a great team around me and a lot of positive people around me to keep me focused and on the right path.
There have been a lot of great camps that I've been in, and so I'm definitely becoming a more polished fighter. It's a long time coming, but it's definitely my time.
RingTV.com: What did this win do in terms of advancing your career?
DW: This was a steppingstone right here to put me in the rankings for bigger and better fights and better people. Everybody on my team is on board, and everybody feels like it was time.
This was a funeral for the old me, and this was a rebirth of the new me. Welcome to the world. This is Deontay Wilder, baby, and I'm ready to go after the heavyweight championship of the world.
So, I feel that I'm doing well. From the Olympics to now, it's just my time. It's been a long time coming, and I've definitely put in the work for it.
I've paid my dues, but I realize that I still have a long way to go and I'm willing to put in the work and to do whatever it takes in the gym. However many hours it takes.
Whatever it takes to be on top, I'm ready. I'm a fiend for success, man. I want to be successful, so whatever it takes to get on top, that's what I want to do.
RingTV.com: What reaction did you receive from the crowd as a result of your performance?
DW: It was good. People come to see knockouts. They want to see heavyweights knock people out. Everybody loves the knockouts, man. So, they can't get enough of it.
That was definitely a great knockout, and that's what they're excited about. I met a lot of first-time comers, and they said, "that was great." They definitely want to see more.
I received a lot love tonight from fans screaming for me, even when I walked down to the little lane. They were still screaming for me. So it's been great. I feel like I'm on top of the world right now.
RingTV.com: How do you balance the demand for the next heavyweight champion against you improvement and development as a fighter?
DW: I just need to continue to work hard and continue to show up and do what I'm doing, which is knocking guys out. For me, you know, it's knocking everybody out.
If I get the right knockout, that will definitely advance me to the top. I think that's just to keep on working hard, keep training, and keep believing in my team.
I need to stay in shape and stay focused and anywhere that we want to go, that's how we're going to get there. That's the key.
RingTV.com: How soon do you want to be back in the ring, and against what sort of opponent?
DW: I want to be back in the ring as soon as possible, and I definitely want Bryant Jennings. I want him. I want him. Bryant Jennings. That's who I want. Everybody wants to see it. The fans want it. There can only be one of us.
At the end of the day, there can only be one heavyweight champion. I'm trying to delete all of the American heavyweights. I'm trying to get rid of all of them so that I can become just that main one.
We've got a lot of them in the running right now, you know, and a lot of us have got '0's. But just like I got rid of Kelvin Price's '0' tonight, everybody else's '0' has got to go too.
I've been blessed with God-given talent and power, man, and I'll go against anybody in the world. I'm just that confident in myself.
So I'm ready for whoever. So that's who I want next is Bryant Jennings, because the fans want it, and there's been a lot of publicity and talk about it.
We've gained a lot of fans just from the Twitter wars that we've had. I heard a lot of people talking about it tonight, so that's what the people want, and that's what I want as well.
I think that it would be a great fight. So if they come with the right offer, nice television deal, man, we can make that one happen.
Photos by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org