Deontay Wilder is determined to become a dominant heavyweight titleholder whether he has to beat the winner of the May 10 Bermane Stiverne-Chris Arreola rematch for the WBC's belt, or THE RING champion Wladimir Klitschko.
"I'm ready, dog. If the Klitschko fight became available for me, then I would definitely take it," said the 28-year-old KO artist, who celebrated his 27th birthday in Austria as the primary sparring partner for Wladimir Klitschko in advance of the unified champion's unanimous decision victory over Mariusz Wach. "Either way that it goes, all of the belts are going to eventually come home to the United States of America.
"So whatever path that may be, fighting the winner of Stiverne-Arreola for a belt, or fighting Klitschko for his belts, at the end of the day, it's going to come down to one of the two, anyway. When I win the WBC belt, me and Klitschko are going to fight anyway. So you've got to start somewhere. We're looking forward to claiming what's ours."
Wilder (31-0, 31 knockouts) is coming off last month's 96-second knockout of Malik Scott in an WBC eliminator bout. In victory, Wilder became the mandatory challenger to the winner of Stiverne-Arreola fight, which is for the title vacated by Vitali Klitschko.
Stiverne dropped Arreola in the third round of a unanimous decision victory last April from which Arreola bounced back with a first-round knockout of Seth Mitchell in September.
In the meantime, Wilder watched the second half of Wladimir Klitschko's fifth-round knockout of Alex Leapai, whom he floored once in the first round and twice in the last of his 16th defense against Alex Leapai.
Wilder said fans reached out to him about fighting Klitschko on social media.
"That took off on my Twitter, man. Everybody was weighing in on me versus Klitschko after his fight," said Wilder of Klitschko's 16th defense, which ranks third, all-time, among heavyweights behind Joe Luis with 25, and, Larry Holmes, with 20.
"You know, they want the fight. Just going crazy with different statements about 'We need the Bronze Bomber, please,' and all of this, and, 'The only one who is going to be able to bring the division back is The Bronze Bomber,' and, 'This fight is boring,' and stuff like that."
Would Wilder take a fight with Klitschko over that with the winner of Stiverne-Arreola?
"Everybody had a lot of things to say about the fight. So it's on to the next for him and I guess he'll get the next guy in line, but I'm definitely focused on my next fight. I've got something to settle with either Bermane Stiverne or Chris Arreola. I really want to fight one of those guys," said Wilder.
"But if the opportunity became available for a potential Klitschko fight, then I would definitely take that as well, too. Either or would be a winner for me. But I don't think, right now, anything could derail me from fighting for that WBC title. I'm super-focused on that, no matter who is fighting who or what the fans say or what they want to see. I've been training, non-stop."
No U.S.-born fighter has held a heavyweight title since 2007, when Shannon Briggs briefly wore the WBO’s belts. In 2006, Hasim Rahman held the WBC belt while the IBF title was held by Chris Byrd.
Puerto Rican-American John Ruiz, from Massachusetts, was the first Latino to hold a heavyweight belt when he became the WBA champ in 2005.
WILDER IS A PROMOTER
"I became a promoter on April 5, but I've been in training ever since," said Wilder, referring to a show at Belk Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., headline by junior middleweight KeAndre Leatherwood's first-round knockout of Mickey Scarborough. "I have 'Bomb Squad Promotions, and the show was called 'Young Guns.'"