‘Love is patience. Love is kind. I’m gonna whoop his behind.’
Deontay Wilder finally emerged from his 20-month retreat into virtual silence and moody introspection following his demolition by Tyson Fury in poetic mood.
Not all of it romantic. When he spoke of ‘the four-letter words which sustain us in our camp’ he mentioned hate as well as love.
Deontay Wilder speaks to his coach Malik Scott at a pre-fight press conference on Wednesday
Wilder knows his heavyweight trilogy bout with Tyson Fury (pictured) will define his career
‘Hate’ for Fury who took his world heavyweight title. ‘Love’ for everyone in the world who loves him.
Of the Gypsy King who dethroned him in seven brutal rounds in their first rematch, Wilder said: ‘He’s the only opponent I’ve ever hated. I have to control that, not get over-excited, be calm within the storm. But I want to beat him up for a few rounds before I knock him out.’
Although he refrained from repeating the wild accusations of cheating which were among his flight-of-fancy excuses for the only defeat of his career, those suspicions are presumably the fuel for all this angst.
Fury himself puts it down to ‘me living in his head all this time rent free.’
But then boxers do tend to obsess about their immediate rival before fights as big as this trilogy match in the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night. And if they are religious, as Wilder and Fury both are, they turn to God.
The Bronze Bomber says: ‘The love has kept our team going throughout the long time of waiting. God doesn’t make mistakes. He makes things (like his solitary defeat) happen for a reason As they say, the family that prays together stays together. Now the time has come for me to reintroduce myself to the world.’
The pair have fought twice in the past and Wilder (left) is a huge underdog this time around
In their initial bout in Los Angeles, the fight ended in a draw, before Fury won the rematch
That he did by pronouncing himself ‘rejuvenated and reminted.’ He added: ‘I needed the recovery time. To be with my family. To work with my trainer (Malik Scott) on all the things he does to bring out the very best in me. We’ve left no stone unturned.’
Not many trees, either, as it happens. Much of the time in training at his gym on the wooded outskirts of his home town Tuscaloosa in Alabama was spent chopping huge logs with a large axe.
Wilder says: ‘I’ve gone through all this because Saturday will be a defining moment in my career. I’m going to close the book on Fury. No fourth fight. I’m going to put the finishing touch to one of the great heavyweight trilogies.
And by coming back from adversity I will add even more to my legacy.’
Wilder says he will ‘close the book on Fury’ and rule out any possibility of a fourth fight
The heavyweight pair have repeatedly clashed in the past and Wilder says he ‘hates’ Fury
Wilder knows that Fury is the favourite but says: ‘I love being the underdog. There’s less pressure because you’ve got nothing to lose and you’ve also got the motivation of having everything to prove.’
He also denies that he will be reliant solely on one of the mightiest punches in ring history. That right hand has KO’d every opponent other than Fury but he also felt its strength when he was flattened in the last round of their first fight, but miraculously got up.
Wilder says: ‘Everyone knows about my power. It never diminishes from the first to 12th round. So I’m a very dangerous fighter throughout the fight. But Malik has been bringing out things in my boxing which I’ve never really had to show before because I knock everybody out.’
Wilder is fighting also for recognition in America, which has been less than overwhelming despite his KO ratio of more than 90 per cent. He says: ‘That is what this moment is all about. I know I will get the respect and recognition at the end of my career. Or sadly when I die, which will probably be when I’m 150. But I want it right now.
Wilder (right, in red) spoke up about wanting ‘respect and recognition’ for his boxing career
Despite knocking out the majority of his opponents, Wilder isn’t universally loved in America
‘I don’t want to follow the same old trend in which people always get to appreciating great fighters at the end or when they die. That needs to change because it takes a lot to get into that ring. You should respect them now, those that step their legs over that rope and throw these hands. Appreciation for our accomplishments, good or bad, is all we look for.
‘That’s why when I get into the ring I always try to do something great for the fans. Give them the excitement of knock outs. I have always had love and support from people all around the world. Messages wishing me well. So when I tell my fans I love them, I mean it. And I won’t let them down this Saturday night. Because I have more goals to achieve.’
That involves regaining the WBC world title from Fury and then going on to fight Oleksandr Usyk, the Ukrainian conqueror of Anthony Joshua, for the undisputed world heavyweight championship.
‘I like this man,’ says Wilder. ‘He’s honourable. I believe he is going to beat Joshua again, more easily, in their rematch. I like that he’s tipping me to knock out Fury. I believe him when he says he wants to get on with fighting me as soon as possible, because he knows he’s getting older.
‘And I won’t be able to retire until I achieve what I always say: One champion, one face, one name.’
Fury v Wilder will be televised live on BT Sport Box Office late this Saturday night.