And for the knockout specialist from Tuscaloosa, Ala., it did. Immediately.
“Everybody is going to say, ‘he always says that he’s going to step up, but now, he’s fighting this guy,’” said Wilder, a 6-foot-7 fighter with a mark of 29-0 with as many knockouts who is coming off back-to-back first-round KOs of ex-beltholder Sergei Liakhovich last month and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Audley Harrison in April.
“It’s just that no one wanted the fight on three weeks’ notice. People don’t understand the business side of boxing. I would have gotten the right opponent for this fight if it wasn’t on three weeks’ notice, and everybody didn’t want main event money. You can put it like that.”
Advised by Al Haymon and trainer and co-manager Jay Deas and 1984 Olympic gold medalist and professional titleholder Mark Breland, Wilder will face Firtha (21-10-1, 8 KOs) on the undercard of Bernard Hopkins’ IBF light heavyweight title defense against Karo Murat on Oct. 26 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
A 34-year-old from Akron, Ohio, Firtha was last in the ring for July’s six-round unanimous decision victory over Robert Hawkins in July that ended a two-fight losing streak.
Firtha has been stopped four times, including by Tye Fields in the sixth round in 2009, and by Tyson Fury in the fifth round in 2011. Firtha has also gone the distance in 10-round losses to Alexander Povetkin and Johnathon Banks in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
Wilder said he was informed that the one opponent he requested “was asking for so much f–king money” that it did not work out.
“I heard the figures that they put out there to him, and what he was talking about, the fight wasn’t going to happen for no television opener. He [the fighter] was talking about main event money, and We’re not the main event,” said Wilder, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist.
“You’re not going to get a world class fighter on three weeks’ notice, and they want all of this money, and we’re just an opening bout and not a main event. It don’t work like that. I’m hoping we can get some of these chickens to actually come out of their shells and to want to fight me. This is ridiculous. They’re making me look bad.”
“I want a Tony Thompson. I need a Bryant Jennings. I’m ready to shut some people up. We’ve been wanting Tony for a while…You can put Stiverne in there, too. I want them all. I want Chisora super bad, so I can show my English fans. I want whoever they want from America over here, like Arreola,” said Wilder.
“I want to fight Bryant Jennings for the fans. He’s done alright for his career, but he’s just a basic fighter. I want those types of guys. I want to shut people up and show people what we already know. Most of those fights are easy fights for me. I don’t want to look over a fighter, but I know what I’m capable of doing, and I know where I’m getting ready to go.”
Meanwhile, Thompson (38-4, 26 KOs), a southpaw who turns 42 next month, claims that he would invite a shot at Wilder, who has served as a sparring partner for former David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko.
Coming off last month’s unanimous decision loss to Russian Kubrat Pulev (18-0, 9 KOs), the Washington, D.C.-based Thompson has twice lost to Klitschko, by 11th- and sixth-round stoppage.
In July, Thompson scored his second consecutive stoppage of England’s David Price in the fifth round. Price was 15-0 with 13 knockouts when Thompson stopped him in the second round in February.
“I have not been offered a Deontay Wilder. Tell Deontay to call me. He knows me,” said Thompson, who has won seven of his past nine fights, all by knockout.
“We’re not ducking Deontay, they’re ducking us,” said Thompson. “That’s what you can put out there. We’re ready to get it on. We’re waiting for them. I’ve never turned down any fight. Ever.”
Thompson said he is considering other offers from Main Events at the moment.
“It has been mentioned, but I haven’t been formally offered. They’ve checked to see if I’m interested, and I am interested if they can get the money right. I’m interested in fighting anybody if they can get the money right.”
NOTE: Meanwhile, Kathy Duva, president of Main Events, informed RingTV.com that a deal is “close” for Adamek (49-2, 29 KOs) to face Vyacheslav Glazkov (15-0-1, 11 KOs) for Nov. 16, and that Thompson-Cunningham had only been floated to Main Events’ matchmaker, Jolene Mizzone, by Thompson’s manager, Mike Borao, of New Jersey.
“He was asking if Adamek was available, but Adamek already has a fight scheduled for November. So then he asked us about Cunningham. Thompson’s manager mentioned that to us. He suggested that to Jolene, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that that was a real possibility. We said that we would think about it, but that’s all,” said Duva.
“Jolene and I talked about it yesterday. It’ was just that Jolene had a conversation with Thompson’s manager to see if he was available. She had asked me about a few different fighters, just trying to find out who is available. It was just a ‘checking out who was available conversation, and nothing beyond that. You never say never, and I won’t say that it couldn’t end up on the card, but I wouldn’t read too much into that.”
Photos by Tom Casino, Showtime
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org