Deontay Wilder packs a hell of a punch, and he gives on hell of a hug, too.
Following a devastating first round knockout of Robert Helenius at a packed Barclays Center in Brooklyn (watch it here), the victorious Deontay Wilder was in an introspective mood. “The Bronze Bomber” who once said he was ‘trying to get me a body on my record’ was nowhere to be seen. Instead, Wilder spent the majority of his post-fight press conference talking about the toll boxing takes on athletes, mentally and physically.
“My only concern is … I always have concern for all fighters,” Wilder said, getting progressively more emotional. “I’m a big advocate for fighters, because we get done wrong. This is not a sport. A sport is something you play. You don’t play this. This, we risk our lives for you guys’ entertainment. And I speak that forever.”
Wilder clearly felt conflicted over knocking out Helenius, who was one of his sparring partners when Deontay was preparing for his fights against Tyson Fury.
“When you have a relationship with a man, when you love a man, when you’ve built a fierce friendship with another man, although he’s a thousand miles away from where I am, when you see things like that, you want to come to the aid. I wanted to come to his aid but they wouldn’t let me. I understood because he needed space, but my heart goes out to him, and I hope he’s doing okay and he’ll be able to go back to his family. Because this is a tough business that we’re in.”
You can see the respect and in a video captured by ESNEWS showing Deontay Wilder and Robert Helenius hugging in a hotel suite following the event. Between embraces, Wilder apologizes multiple times, while Helenius thanked him for the opportunity to fight. “The Nordic Nightmare” also implied he was retiring following the loss.
“I tell people you gotta respect all fighters,” Wilder continued. at the press conference “People always worried about records and ‘Aw he lost, he’s a bum.’ Well, you get your bum ass in there then, and let’s see who’s a bum. Because you don’t play this. Can’t play this! So we demand respect at all times. Every fighter that steps in the ring, I don’t care what their record is, who they are, where they come from. It demands respect because if not, then you see things like that happen.”
“‘Oh that’s a good knockout.’ Yeah it’s great, that’s devastating,” Wilder said. “Making history and stuff like that. But how much that man going to suffer? He may be all right now. But what about the day. What about two weeks from now, what about years from now? And we seeing what happens. Look at [Prichard] Colon. How he got hit. This man ain’t have no kids. [Gets emotional] They don’t understand, they don’t understand what we go through, man. And I don’t even know him like that. But I always be an advocate for us because….”
For a moment Wilder was too emotional to keep speaking.
“This man will never know what it’s like to be somebody’s father,” he said through tears. “And that’s the most precious thing in the world, to be somebody’s father. But he’ll never be nobody’s father, man. This man will never have a natural child or chance of living again because he got in the ring to support his family. But now his family gotta take care of him for the rest of his life. He probably the bread winner of his family. Now they’re seeking for help and s— like that.”
“I could say so much about it. That’s why you don’t play this. This is serious. We don’t know if Robert’s gonna be the same after this. I just did my job. I’m great at what I do. I don’t mean to take people away from their lifestyle of living. I’m just trying to support my family as well. This is what we sign up to do, and unfortunately there’s a winner and a loser and sometimes it’s a draw. But who take up on that responsibility when they can’t work no more.”
“Robert could be the breadwinner of his family, but what if he can’t do it no more?” Wilder asked. “Then what? Who pays the bill? Who pays the mortgage. He got kids. Who looks out for his kids? Because we all know when you lose and it ain’t going right, those same people that when you win they kiss you say the love you, they ain’t there for you no more.”
The win over Helenius snaps a two-fight losing streak for Wilder — the only two losses on his record, and both to Tyson Fury. At 43-2-1, Wilder is still one of the top heavyweights in boxing today. And as this fight against Helenius shows, he’s still got dynamite in his hands, and an ability to finish a fight at any second.
Leading up to this bout in Brooklyn, Deontay Wilder called out Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk and even UFC heavyweight Francis Ngannou. During the press conference, only Usyk was called out by name. Whatever is going to happen with Wilder, it will have to happen soon. “The Bronze Bomber” has said he only plans to box for three more years, because clearly he understands how serious the damage he’s giving and receiving is.