Heavyweight contender Deontay Wilder knows perhaps better than anyone how quickly one punch can end a fight.
A 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, Wilder (31-0, 31 knockouts) has scored 18 first-round knockouts, six in the second, four in the third and three in the fourth – the latter representing the longest distance Wilder has ever gone in a bout.
But as Wilder enters Saturday night’s bout with 37-year-old journeyman Jason Gavern (25-16-4, 11 KOs) at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif, the nearly 6-foot-7 fighter knows he could just as easily wind up on the receiving end of a knockout blow.
“This is boxing and this is the heavyweight division, so you can’t take anyone lightly. I’m not treating this like a warm-up,” said Wilder, 28, who is coming off a 96-second knockout of Malik Scott in a WBC title eliminator bout in March. “My main focus is fighting for a title but I’m not looking past my opponent on August 16.”
The victory over Scott made Wilder the mandatory challenger to face WBC beltholder Bermane Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KOs) in a bout that is being targeted for November.
“My motivations is fighting for a world title,” said Wilder, who will face Gavern in support of IBF welterweight beltholder Shawn Porter’s defense against Kell Brook. “I need to go into the ring and take care of my opponent on August 16. I have to fight to win and succeed in order to provide for my family.”
In his last fight in November, Gavern won a majority decision over faded former multi-division titleholder James Toney in a three-round bout that was part of the British “Prizefighter Tournament” series.
Gavern won two out of three Prizefighter bouts on the same night, helping him rebound from a stretch of seven consecutive losses from November 2011 to May 2013.
Wilder said he has taken Gavern as seriously as he has other opposition, this despite an abbreviated training camp.
“Everything has been going as planned. This has probably been one of the shortest training camps I’ve had. That thrills me though. A lot of fighters claim to be athletes but on the night of the fight, I’ll show exactly how athletic and ready I am,” said Wilder.
“I’ve been missing the ring and I’m ready to get back…I’m good to go. I’m always in shape. I’m always in the gym. I treat boxing like my nine to five. Others may not take it seriously but this is a sport where you can get hurt if you don’t protect yourself and take it seriously. So I’m always tuned up and ready to go for my fans.”
Also on the Porter-Brook card is a rematch between WBC super middleweight titleholder Sakio Bika and Anthony Dirrell, who fought to a draw in December, a defense by WBC lightweight beltholder Omar Figueroa Jr. against Daniel Estrada, and a match between former titleholder Jorge Linares and Ira Terry, tentatively at 135 pounds.
Note: Quotes from a release