Wilder Talks Comeback, New Opponent

WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has had a tough road back to the ring. Since his last fight in 2016, Wilder has had surgery on his right hand and right biceps, and is finally ready to test them against Gerald Washington this Saturday. Because of the nature of his layoff, Wilder believes that an elite opponent would have been a mistake for his first fight back.

Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs) was originally set for face Andrzej Wawrzyk in his return fight, but the Polish heavyweight was replaced after he failed a drug test for a performance-enhancing drug.

“I’m anxious,” Wilder told a group of reporters recently. “I’m ready to get back up in the ring. I’m ready to test it out. That was one of the reasons why we chose Wawrzyk for the fight, you know? Only a crazy man would come back, not knowing what the result’s gonna be with the hand, and try to fight a killer up in the ring. That’s stupid. And we all know boxing is a business. It’s a business first. No matter what fans wanna see, no matter what anybody wanna see, boxing is a business. It started out as a business when it was created. It’s still a business to this day. If you don’t understand the business, it’s gonna be confusing.”

The 31-year-old Wilder wants even his strong supporters who are growing impatient with his level of opposition to know, though, that bigger fights are in his immediate future.

The Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native intends to fight newly crowned WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker (22-0, 18 KOs) in a unification fight if New Zealand’s Parker defeats England’s Hughie Fury (20-0, 10 KOs) in a mandatory defense April 1 in Auckland, New Zealand. Wilder doesn’t think Fury would fight him if Fury upsets Parker, but he also would be willing to face Fury next, assuming Wilder overcomes Washington.

Ultimately, Wilder wants a full unification fight against Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs), though that’ll require England’s Joshua, the IBF title-holder, to beat Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) on April 29 in London and continue winning.

“I tell people, ‘You’ve gotta have patience,’ ” said Wilder, who had surgeries six months ago to repair fractures to his right hand and a torn right biceps. “And that’s something that’s a virtue. You have to have patience. I’m the fighter, at the end of the day. I have patience, so can everybody else. The fights is gonna come, what people wanna see. You know? I’m a fighter, so I’m not scared of no one, nor would I run from anyone.

“But at the same time, I have a team established. And if nobody’s in agreement on the team, nothing can’t work. And that’s how I established myself. In that case, I’ll just be by myself and just do whatever I wanna do by myself. I wouldn’t need a team. I’d just fire everybody and just do my own thing. But fortunately, I love my team, I love who I’m with. And as long as everybody’s on the same page, that’s what we’re gonna go with, no matter what nobody may feel about it.”

Washington replaced Wawrzyk as Wilder’s upcoming opponent last month, after Wawrzyk (33-1, 19 KOs) tested positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid. The Wilder-Washington fight will headline FOX’s tripleheader from Legacy Arena.

The telecast also will include Detroit’s Tony Harrison (24-1, 20 KOs) and Jarrett Hurd (19-0, 13 KOs), of Accokeek, Maryland, in a 12-round fight for the vacant IBF junior middleweight title. Another televised fight will pit Polish heavyweight prospect Izuagbe Ugonoh (17-0, 14 KOs) against Dominic Breazeale (17-1, 15 KOs), of Eastvale, California, in a 10-rounder.

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