To question any single detail about undefeated WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder is to hate him, apparently
The rapid ascent to professional boxing’s throne for undefeated 33-year old WBC Heavyweight champion and Tuscaloosa, AL native Deontay Wilder is remarkable. If you wholeheartedly believe Wilder’s No. 34 ranking on ESPN‘s recent World Fame 100 – a list that compiles the athletes around the globe with the biggest buzz – signifies that standing.
Even better, for his constituency, Wilder could seemingly stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and he wouldn’t lose any fans. The press conference was in Brooklyn, this thought was unavoidable.
Well, this past Tuesday, March 19, the champion stood at a podium in Brooklyn, New York inside Barclays Center and passionately delivered a major announcement that was by and large full of blanks.
In short, Wilder’s May 18 defense of his title versus one-time world title challenger Dominic Breazeale, an opponent who was the lone person rooting for him to get this fight, is headed for Showtime Championship Boxing – not Showtime Pay Per View. Was one to really believe that Showtime’s president of sports and event programming, Stephen Espinoza, made it beyond his first cup of morning coffee deliberating that decision?
For some, the moment included a private and silent, “I’m sorry, did I miss something?”
After all, just days earlier, Wilder and his business team met with DAZN executive chairman John Skipper to review a reported three-fight, $100 million deal that included two fights with unified Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. An agreed would have conceivably set the path for an undisputed Heavyweight champion. Tuesday’s major announcement at Barclays Center solidified the rejection of the DAZN offer – presumably without any counter proposals.
Depending on where one gets their news on such boxing developments, Wilder’s bold move and fight announcement was lauded, with the champion being celebrated for maintaining full autonomy regarding his freedom to make whatever moves he sees fit. The peculiar detail found among all of the short speeches was, while Espinoza expressed gratitude in televising Wilder’s forthcoming fight, that gratitude fell somewhat short when he stated, “This will be Deontay’s 12th appearance on SHOWTIME and or SHOWTIME PPV and we’ve built something special.”
That represents the past. Wilder’s rejection of a 9-figure deal for roughly 18 months of work was emblematic of his gratitude towards Showtime and the reach of its platform. But, where was Showtime’s commitment to Wilder and his future?
Perhaps it’s just a new day in boxing.
In contrast, back in February 2013 Forbes’ Kurt Badenhausen reported Showtime’s signing of Floyd Mayweather, citing a press release which announced a “…six-fight, 30-month deal … called the richest individual athlete deal in all of sports’…” Badenhausen also explained the financial details were unknown per the contract’s confidentiality agreement.
This author would never join in with Wilder’s online detractors and adopt their regular practice of referring to the undefeated champion as “Deyoncé” – a play on “Deontay” and the R&B world’s chart-topping Beyoncé. But, as Wilder’s most ardent fans continue to routinely berate neutral individuals for raising reasonable questions concerning the champion’s short-term plans, their unwavering allegiance to Wilder begins to teeter towards the protective nature of Mrs. Carter’s notorious Beyhive.
Safe to say with the increasing popularity of Wilder’s captivating “Bomb Squad” (or BombZquad) war cry, that signals his loyal troops to formation, you’re either with them or against them. When it comes to the Heavyweight division’s Big Three, which consists of Wilder and unified and lineal champions Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, respectively, there are no bystanders. Be safe out there!
All photos by Amanda Westcott/Showtime