Deontay Wilder (left) against Kelvin Price in December 2012 (Photo: Harry How-Golden Boy Promotions/Getty)
This past Saturday, 6-foot-9 Tyson Fury (21-0, 15 knockouts) had to rise from a second-round knockdown to prevent an upset and ultimately score a seventh-round stoppage of former IBF cruiserweight titleholder Steve Cunningham, a 36-year-old who was in only his third heavyweight bout.
On April 27 at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England, American heavyweight prospect Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (27-0, 27 KOs) will find himself in a similar position when he meets Audley Harrison (31-6, 23 KOs), a 41-year-old 2000 Olympic gold medalist who is trying to resurrect his fading career.
Wilder-Harrison will take place on the undercard of a main event featuring former IBF/WBA junior welterweight beltholder Amir Khan against two-time lightweight beltholder Julio Diaz, of Coachella, Calif., in a 143-pound catchweight clash on Showtime.
Wilder is no stranger to Harrison, having served as the Englishman’s sparring partner prior to Harrison’s first-round knockout loss to Price in October. Since falling to Price, Harrison has won three consecutive fights, two by knockout.
“With David Price and Tyson Fury, I don’t really worry about what both of those fighters have done,” said Wilder, a 27-year-old resident of Tuscaloosa, Ala. “I don’t even use what happened as far as what is next for me.”
Since the Wilder-Harrison fight was announced, different scenarios have surfaced on internet sites regarding exactly what transpired during their sparring sessions and who got the best of whom. Wilder, for his part, has denied being dropped by Harrison.
Wilder shared his thoughts with RingTV.com in this Q&A.
RingTV.com: Did you learn anything from the loss of Price, or the fact that Fury was dropped in the second round after having taunted Cunningham in the first round?
Deontay Wilder: With David Price and Tyson Fury, I don’t really worry about what both of those fighters have done. I don’t even use what happened as far as what is next for me.
David Price took Thompson for granted. I’m sure that that was because Thompson is an older guy, and Price probably had a lot of people in his ear. Even on the blogs and stuff, it was, “He’s old, he’s bad, he’s out of shape.”
His instructor was probably telling him the same thing, so he went in there overconfident … “I’m fixing to get this man out of there,” and “This is going to be easy because he’s in my back yard.”
You could tell from his body language that he thought, “This is going to be easy work.” But for me, it don’t matter who you are. You could have more losses than wins on your record.
But I’m fixing to fight you as if you were the champ. I take no one lightly, and I never have. I never have in my career and I never will.
No matter what people say about them or whether they dislike the fighter or the fight, or they think I’m going to knock them out easy.
Whether it’s the first round or the last round, I never take an opponent lightly, and that’s exactly what David Price did.
RingTV.com: What about Fury?
DW: As far as Fury, I’ll never go in there and taunt a man, even if it’s for the crowd. I mean business when I’m in the ring. Now, after I get finished with you and I knock you out, that’s when I can taunt you or whatever.
But when I’m in the ring, that’s not going to happen. But Fury, in that second round, he got dropped. If Cunningham would have gotten back on him, he would have been gone.
If it was me that hit him and I dropped him, that would have been the end of his career. That would have been a loss for Tyson Fury. I would have been on him.
Cunningham is just coming into the heavyweight division, so he wasn’t used to it. If that was a Thompson that Fury was fighting and would have gotten hit, he probably would have been gone.
He was fortunate that he wasn’t fighting somebody who has been in the heavyweight division, with somebody who is all about power.
He was in against Cunningham, who is just starting to get a taste of being in the heavyweight division with the bigger guys.
Cunningham don’t bring that much force and power like a real heavyweight. But if that was a Deontay Wilder, that fight would have been over with.
RingTV.com: Given the fact that both Price and Fury were in against fighters they were perceived to be better than and that they were troubled by their opponents, does that, nevertheless, heighten your awareness?
DW: It’s like this, and this is how I feel. I’m Deontay Wilder, man, and I’m going to be Deontay Wilder. I don’t really keep up with the other guys and who they fight or how they fight their opponents.
I don’t pay attention to their age and stuff like that. When I have an opponent with skills in front of me, that’s my whole focus. I’m going in there to try and complete my mission.
That’s to get them out of there, whether it’s winning by a KO or winning by a decision. You know, whenever somebody is in my way, I’m going to try to move them.
Those guys have been having a good run, and I hope that they keep it up until they face me. Because when it’s all said and done, we could meet.
RingTV.com: Being that there’s a time difference from America and England — five hours from me here in Maryland — do you expect a problem acclimating yourself over there?
DW: I should be arriving in England tomorrow. We’re leaving today, so I expect to be there tomorrow. Being that they’re six hours ahead of me [in Tuscaloosa, Ala.,] I’ll probably get there on Monday.
Monday morning or something. I think that a week is enough time for me to get acclimated to the environment. I’ve been there before, and when I was there before, I didn’t have any problems with it.
My body will just acclimate. When it’s time to go to bed, I’ll go to bed, when it’s time to wake up, I’ll wake up. Of course, there will be a couple of days there of adjustment.
But it’s not hard. I tell people all of the time that the Olympics have prepared me for a lot of things as far as going to different countries and fighting in them.
I’m used to that and I know what to do, and I’ve been in that type of environment to me. So it’s an old habit for me and no strain on my brain.
It has been a great camp, and I’m ready to go as far as my conditioning and preparation for this fight. I’m ready to fight today.
Photos: Harry How – Golden Boy Promotions/Getty
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com