Deontay Wilder walked into the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas nearly three years ago with gold in his eyes. He left with the WBC heavyweight championship, outboxing champion Bermane Stiverne to capture is first major title.
The two will meet again Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn as “The Bronze Bomber” seeks the sixth defense of his crown.
“It’s easy,” said Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) of the rematch against Stiverne in a phone interview with amNewYork. “I went 12 rounds with him, so I know everything he wants to do and is gonna do. I know his good and I know his bad.”
Wilder’s second meeting with Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs) comes after his original opponent, undefeated Luis Ortiz, tested positive for a banned substance. It’s not the first time an opponent has been caught doping in Wilder’s career. Despite the perception that the Alabama native isn’t fighting the best, he’s hellbent on proving himself as the most dangerous man in the division.
“[Stiverne] was the only one to survive the knockout streak, and I’m looking to redeem myself and get my knockout,” he said.
The sweet science’s most storied division is amid a 2017 renaissance, with the exit of longtime champion Wladimir Klitschko and rise of undefeated WBA, IBF and IBO champion Anthony Joshua. With the 28-year-old Joshua’s win last week over Carlos Takam, a Wilder victory will amplify the hype over an eventual unification bout between the two. The bout is slated for 2018, according to Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn, but nothing is official at present.
Regardless of when the bout occurs, the 32-year-old Wilder professes he is content.
“I’m happy right now,” Wilder said. “I’m happy [with] where I am in life. [I’ve] got a lot of great things going on, and I’m at peace. That’s the main thing. I’m at peace, no matter what.”
In a career with numerous roadblocks along the way, Wilder prefers to focus on the present and next opponent ahead of him. A convincing victory over Stiverne puts him one step closer to his goal of becoming the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis lost the distinction in 2000. Wilder said he is convinced that is his destiny.
“Like I always said, there will be one champion, one name, one face: Deontay Wilder.”