The fuse is lit, the clock is ticking. Three years from now, boxing’s bronze bomber will detonate for the last time. It promises to be an explosive and bloody goodbye.
As his 37th birthday approaches, Deontay Wilder has chosen when he will retire. She now she must decide how. And with whom. Even after the bombs are silenced, don’t expect her to go quietly.
“Once my boxing career is over, I will dedicate my time to producing and making music. That’s where my heart is,” says Wilder.
Deontay Wilder has said he is “soaked in peace and happiness” ahead of his return to New York.
The next date is on the agenda: October 15 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to face Robert Helenius.
Other commitments are planned. A fourth fight with Tyson Fury is ‘inevitable’. A showdown with Anthony Joshua “will be done when the time is right.” The Ukrainian has already called a meeting with Oleksandr Usyk.
“I’m here to do nothing but great fights,” says Wilder.
First, he must negotiate a way to get past Helenius, a former training partner. They will reunite nearly a year after Wilder’s trilogy with Tyson Fury began to boil. Over an extraordinary 11 rounds, the heavyweights traded four knockdowns before Wilder went down for the final time.
Wilder’s long-awaited return to the ring will be closely watched by those potential opponents.
After that second straight loss, the former WBC champion flirted with retirement until the day he was etched in stone. A statue in Alabama changed everything. Now, says Wilder, he is happier than ever. Valuable lessons emerged from the defeat.
From his four-year-old son, who taught him that ‘birds can pi*** and shit at the same time!’
Of meditation and ayahuasca, a psychedelic concoction used by Amazonian tribes.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a new beginning. I would just say I have a different mindset. I am immersed in my peace and happiness,” says Wilder.
Robert Helenius represents a danger to the American and will not go unnoticed at the Barclays Center
‘I’m in a great place in life. in spirit AND in heart, man. I can’t explain it’, he smiles. Fans might have a hard time squaring this tower of calm with the grumpy, spiteful heavyweight whose 42 wins include 41 knockouts.
“People don’t know me,” insists Wilder. “They see me in the ring and judge me for it.”
He explains: ‘The saying for me is: to love him is to know him. I am always at peace, I am always happy. Because if you don’t have happiness or peace, you don’t have anything.’
They form a valuable coin.
“You can be the richest man in the world, but if you’re not happy and at peace, you’re miserable.”
Wilder has said that he is much happier and returns to the ring next month with a much better mindset.
Is it something you realized about your own downfall? ‘No problem. I definitely do meditation. I do ayahuasca. I guess a lot of it is due to certain things like that,” he says. ‘But also dealing with yourself… you have to be understanding and truthful with yourself. If not, you will become someone else that you really don’t like.
‘There is no guide as to how we should live life or what we should do. It’s about what makes you happy and what will bring you peace.’
War and peace will collide when Wilder returns against Helenius, a fighter who has seen all his tricks and denunciations. The bronze bomber will have to be adjusted.
He knows everything as well as I know him. Sometimes that makes for great fights,” he says. ‘Just because we’re friends, I’m not in the business of holding back.’
But how much can change?
The statue built in his honor in his hometown motivated him to return to the ring
“I don’t agree that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” insists Wilder. If your mind is not capable of learning more, you are dead.
Often the most powerful medicines are derived from defeat. And Fury gave Wilder a double dose.
“I learned that I am an amazing human being,” explains Wilder. ‘I really have no limits attached to me. There were a lot of things that I don’t think the average fighter would have mentally overcome.
That’s true. During the third fight, Wilder showed unthinkable courage and determination.
After the rematch, however, the excuses came. His heavy outfit, a spiked drink, Fury’s charged gloves. Wilder backs it all up.
“There are a lot of things that I knew weren’t right, but I still went ahead because I wanted to see how strong I was.” How could I bear? What are my powers? What limits do I have as a human being? I passed the test,” she says.
The American boxer has said he learned he was an “incredible human being” after his loss to Tyson Fury last year.
With those answers, however, came other uncomfortable truths. Wilder’s boxing journey, born out of a need for money to help his daughter, who was diagnosed with spina bifida, has been a remarkable story of triumph.
But when his ferocious formula failed — four times Fury rose from the canvas — any sense of infallibility was extinguished.
“The loss was not difficult for me at all,” insists Wilder. ‘They can’t break my pride, they can’t break my spirit…they say the truth will set you free. And I am free.
For a while after that third fight, Wilder walked away from boxing. Lacking motivation, attention turned elsewhere. He spent time with his family. He released a single, Everytime, alongside his brother Marsellos. He focused on investment interests.
Wilder said the loss in the third fight against Tyson Fury, the second overall against the British fighter, was not difficult for him “at all.”
“I don’t need the boxing business anymore,” says Wilder. ‘He needs me… 98 percent of fighters have nothing to show for it after it’s over. But that won’t be the case for Deontay Wilder… my family is insured, whether I’m alive or dead.’
Wilder’s place in Tuscaloosa history is also set in stone. In May, a statue of the city’s most beaten son was unveiled. The sight of grown men falling apart that day made Wilder relapse. He is addicted to ‘the feeling of being on the verge of death’.
Fury and Joshua are in talks to meet on December 3. “I hope they have a good fight and may the best guy win,” says Wilder.
He has not always been so diplomatic: he accuses Joshua of being ‘done’. Now neither has a belt, but it’s still a fascinating clash of styles. “I’m still willing to fight him and I hope he’s still willing to fight me,” he says.
There has always been a jarring gulf between the eloquent and charming Wilder and that bloodthirsty bomber who takes over on fight night. Boxing will miss both of them when they are gone.
“After it’s all over, I’m going to pursue a lot of other things that I’ve always been passionate about,” says Wilder. Music. Investments.
“I always like to motivate people… greatness is in you, not in what other people think and their opinions,” he says.
‘I thank God for being where I am… I still have love in my heart.’ We’ll soon find out how much dynamite is left in those fists.