By: Sean Crose
Deontay Wilder has raised eyebrows with recent comments he’s made regarding his Saturday bout with Dominic Breazeale. In the leadup to the scrap for the WBC heavyweight crown, defending champion Wilder has expressed murderous intent. Literally. “This is the only sport,” Wilder told reporters, “where you can kill a man and get paid for it at the same time. It’s legal. Why not use my right to do so?” Wilder also stated that: “I’m still trying to get a body on my record.” Whether Wilder was serious or simply trash talking before a televised bout (the fight will be aired live on Showtime from the Barclay’s Center) is unclear, though the Alabama native has been known from his hyperbole.
Hyperbolic or not, Wilder’s words have struck a chord with certain fans and journalists. While some claim Wilder doesn’t seriously wish to kill his opponent this weekend, others find the words Wilder uses dangerous, while still others find them to be inappropriate, regardless of whether Wilder is serious or not in his comments. Perhaps it all has to do with a need Wilder has to be recognized as a legitimate heavyweight champion – something he has struggled to do. “People won’t appreciate my career until I retire or I die,” Sports Illustrated quotes the man as saying. “I want to smell my roses now.”
No matter the intent behind his words, there is little doubt that the 41-0-1 Wilder and the 20-1 Breazeale have some serious bad blood between them. A hotel skirmish reportedly involving Breazeale, team Wilder and Breazeale’s family went down several years ago, presenting another layer of ugliness to a sport which unfortunately seems to be forever adding on new coats. Breazeale has presented the incident as a horrible affront to he and his family. Wilder has responded that Breazeale is twisting the narrative to make he and his team appear in a terrible light. Smack talk can help build a fight, but the genuine hostility shared between Wilder and Breazeale is quite real.
One interesting side note: had Wilder indented to merely rattle Breazeale with his recent comments, the tactic doesn’t seem to have worked. “I’m not going to react to his words,” the LA Times quotes the easy going Breazeale as saying. “It’s very uncivilized, not in my character and not right.” Breazeale, whose lone loss was to British heavyweight kingpin Anthony Joshua, is expected to lose on Saturday. Yet few would deny the Californian has the power to turn out the lights at any given moment. All but two of the man’s victories have come by knockout.