by James Slater: As most fight fans thought he would, Olympic bronze medallist in Beijing, Deontay Wilder has decided to turn professional. It didn’t take the 22-year-old who captured his medal as a heavyweight long to make up his mind, having been presented with the medal one week ago. Wilder, who hails from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has signed a multi-year deal with Shelly Finkel, and will be co-promoted by Finkel and Jay Deas, who trains Wilder. Finkel told ESPN.com that he was finalizing a promotional contract for the young heavyweight with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy outfit..
“I was in Alabama on Thursday getting our deal done,” Finkel said. “Next week he should be signed with Golden Boy. His lawyer is looking at the contract.”
Finkel’s plan, according to ESPN, is for Wilder to have his first pro bout in November or December. And the promoter said Wilder would be trained by Ronnie Shields and former welterweight world champion Mark Breland, who would work alongside Deas.
“My game plan right now is to take it slow,” Wilder told ESPN. “I’m just turning pro – I’ll learn some different things. I got great people coming in to work with me. I’m looking forward to this game.”
In terms of his weight, Finkel said Wilder will be getting a strength coach to help him bulk up from his current 200 pounds. Standing an impressive 6’7,” there is plenty of room on his frame for the heavyweight to add muscle so as to be able to compete with the really big men of the division.
“I believe in the end he’ll be a 230-240 pound solid heavyweight with the right physical coach and dietician,” Finkel added. “He has great size and natural ability. I knew he didn’t have experience (Wilder only started boxing in 2005), but he’s determined, he’s athletic and he has ability he doesn’t even know he has yet. In four to five years I would hope he is ready to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world.”
By that time, Wilder would be 26 or 27-years-old and though that timescale may be a little optimistic – heavyweights do mature later, after all – America’s only boxing medallist in 2008 may well be a star of the future. Exciting times are certainly ahead for the likeable boxer from Alabama. On having decided to fight for a living, we wish him well.