In January, Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder beat Bermane Stiverne to become the first U.S. heavyweight champion in nine years. He’s the WBC heavyweight champion of the world.
Despite holding such a prestigious title to go along with his charismatic personality, Wilder is still an unknown to the American general public — a fact he plans to change.
Racking up dominant performances, as he sees it, is the best way to draw mainstream attention to the same heavyweight division that’s struggled since Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis ended their careers in the early part of the new millennium.
A big step forward toward that goal comes next Saturday night, when Wilder (34-0, 33 KOs) will makes his second world title defense in his home state of Alabama against France’s Johann “Reptile” Duhaupas (32-2, 20 KOs).
Wilder said Thursday during a pre-fight conference call:
“People are finally excited again about the heavyweight division. For the first time in a long time, an American is the heavyweight champ and the title is staying right here. For the longest time, our division was the division in boxing and now you are seeing a resurgence of that. Fighting on network TV gives us the opportunity to showcase ourselves to such a wider audience.”
Wilder’s title defense will be a part of history, serving as the first heavyweight championship defended on network television since Larry Holmes fought Carl Williams in May 1985. Unlike fighters of the past 30 years, Wilder hopes this will become the norm, not the exception, to help shine the spotlight on the resurgent heavyweight division.
“I never had the goal to be a pay-per-view star. If pay-per-view comes then it will come,” Wilder said. “I’m all for the people and know not everyone can afford pay-per-view. People in our country have been waiting for a star in the division for a very long time, and I can promise you, I am the man for the job to get this thing back on track.”