Charismatic heavyweight Deontay Wilder will be fighting to fulfil a promise he made to his daughter when he challenges for the heavyweight world title this weekend.
The 29-year-old knockout king takes on the reigning WBC champion Bermane Stiverne at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, live and exclusive on BoxNation, as he chases boxing’s most illustrious prize.
Wilder’s hunt for sports most coveted accolade, however, is being fuelled by a promise the 6ft 7inch star made to his daughter nine-year-old daughter Naieya, who was born with spina bifida but proved doctors wrong by being able to walk.
“We inspire each other every day. When she was one year old I promised her that I would become world champion. And I know it’s going to be a reality. And I will. She has been through so much in her nine years of living. But she’s good now,” said Wilder.
“She knows what’s going on and a lot of people say that she’s my number one fan and she is my ultimate number one fan.
“She motivates me to keep going because I know that as a nine‐year‐old girl and having gone through everything – the needles and the surgeries – if she can go through that I can go through the trials and tribulations of becoming world champion,” he said.
Though Wilder is eager to hear his name announced as the new champion, his proudest moment will be when he can place the belt on his daughter’s lap.
“Throughout my life I have never met a Wilder that wasn’t tough. We are all strong. I’ve got a big family and we don’t know what it’s like to be given anything,” Wilder said.
“I’m going to be a proud father when I come back and show her what I’ve done and I can’t let her down. It’s like making God a promise. She’s counting on me and I never let my children down.
“If I said I was going to do something or be somewhere at a certain time, no matter how busy my schedule got I did it for them. It’s a love for your children and I love them dearly. It’s just something that I promised my daughter a long time ago and it’s got to be fulfilled,” he said.
‘The Bronze Bomber’, though, will have to get past the fearsome champion Stiverne if he is to realise his dream of becoming a world champion.
The Haitian-born hitter, who has 21 knockouts from his 24 wins, is making the first defence of his title which he won in May by stopping the tough Chris Arreola in six rounds.
With Wilder’s stunning knockout record, having laid out all of his 32 opponents, the Tuscaloosa hitman believes that it could be a short night’s work once again.
“The guy has some credible knockouts on his resume. But like he said before, on January 17th, don’t blink. He said it perfectly, so we’ll find out,” said Wilder
“I am looking forward to answering a lot of questions about me. Some will be answered and some not. We will see. January 17, don’t blink. There is no need for me to stick around for overtime but if the fight needs to go past twelve rounds, bring it on.
“We can go back to fifteen [rounds] if you want to do it. There are no concerns and no worries in my mind, and I promise you, if it goes past four then so be it and the people get their monies worth. If it goes less than four, so be it. But I train for a great fight,” said Wilder.
Stiverne vs Wilder is live on BoxNation (Sky 437/490HD, Virgin 546, TalkTalk 525) this Saturday night. Visit boxnation.com to subscribe.