Unbeaten heavyweight knockout artist Deontay Wilder said “Let’s make it happen” when told that a win over ex-beltholder Sergei Liakhovich on Friday could earn a shot at the winner between Seth Mitchell and Chris Arreola on Sept. 6.
The declaration came from Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer on Thursday, and the 6-foot-7 2008 Olympic bronze medalist emphatically did his part by vanquishing Liakhhovich in the first round with a vicious right hand.
“You heard what the captain [Schaefer] said. Let’s make it happen,” said Wilder (29-0, 29 knockouts), who devastated Liakhovich in 1:43, following up a first-round knockout of 2000 Olympic gold medalist Audley Harrison in April.
“Let’s make it happen, captain. I’m super-confident in myself, and Mitchell and Arreola, you know, both of those guys would be perfect for my style.”
Liakhovich entered the bout with Wilder having suffered consecutive ninth-round knockout losses to unbeaten contenders Robert Helenius and Bryant Jennings. He is now 2-5 with two knockouts since rising from a seventh-round knockdown to defeat Lamon Brewster for the WBO belt in April of 2006.
Wilder twice drilled Liakhovich to the temple along the ropes, dropping the losing fighter to his back, where his legs twitched as did his arms overhead.
Referee Tom Taylor swiftly waved an end to the bout after dropping to one knee, grabbing Liakhovich by the chin with his left hand, cradling the fighter’s head with his right and telling him to “Stay down.”
“I’m just blessed with tremendous power. I don’t depend on it, but it is there. I think my secret isn’t power. It’s my speed. I think people hear about all my KO’s and tend to overlook that,” said Wilder. “I think all my KO’s are helping me get a lot of people’s attention and I love that. I embrace it.”
With the heavyweight division being dominated by the Ukrainian Klitschko brothers, Wilder is trying to become the first U.S.-born fighter to hold a heavyweight crown since June of 2007, when Shannon Briggs lost the WBO’s belt by unanimous to Sultan Ibragimov after having won it by 12th-round knockout from Liakhovich in November of 2006.
“We’re all in the big leagues, you know?. We’re all looking to bring the heavyweight division back to its glory days. So if that’s the plan, then let’s do it,” said Wilder.
“I think more people are now starting to feel that maybe I can be the guy who brings the heavyweight title back to America. Honestly, I would love to be that guy.”
Mitchell is coming off June’s unanimous decision over Johnathon Banks that avenged a second-round stoppage loss in November, and Arreola had surgery in May to repair a broken nose suffered during April’s unanimous-decision loss to Bermane Stiverne.
Photos by Tom Casino, Showtime
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org