Ready for round two

Ready for round two

Jay Deas helps Boxing Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder practice in the ring.  CW | Marquis Munson

Elliott Propes

Amid the chaos that was University Boulevard on Friday afternoon, a gold Rolls-Royce emerged from the clutter and pulled onto the set of ESPN College GameDay. Out stepped a 6-foot-7-inch behemoth who is a familiar face for Tuscaloosans. Many remember the man parading down the same boulevard nine months ago, holding up high the heavy weight WBC world champion boxing belt he had just captured.

Deontay Wilder stepped on the stage of College Football Live and in front of him were seven punching bags with logos of the SEC west. Wilder was asked to decide which teams he thought were contenders or pretenders. The pretenders didn’t fair well. Wilder’s signature right hand punch sent the pretenders off the stage. ESPN hosts, Desmond Howard and David Pollack, hollered when the punches landed and were left astonished.

Wilder left the national spotlight and went straight to the low-key storage units that house the place he first sparred with no boxing experience in 2005, Skyy Boxing Gym. Escaping the fanfare that was gathering across the river, Wilder was ready to train in isolation. The calendar had become smaller as just one week remained before he was defending his title again.

“I’m very excited,” Wilder’s coach Jay Deas said. “This is going to be huge. This is going to be packed out. It’s going to be the first heavyweight title fight broadcasted on free live NBC since 1985, which was the year Deontay was born.” 

Wilder will be defending his belt for the second time in his home state on Saturday, September 26 in the BJCC Arena in Birmingham. Johann Duhaupas of France is looking to play spoiler. He is coming off the best win of his career against former world title challenger Manuel Charr.

“He’s strong, he’s got the height, he’s got the record, he’s never been stopped before ever. He’s coming off of his best win, but I’m looking to come get him his first knockout that’s for sure,” Wilder said. “So I’m definitely coming to give him his first knockout and tell him welcome to Alabama.”

Duhaupas is tall like Wilder at 6’5. His record is an impressive 32-2 and he has never been knocked out. Wilder though, has remained undefeated over his career and he has amassed 33 wins by knockout on the way to a 34-0 record.

“It’s a tough matchup- Duhaupas is 6’5 240 lbs- [he’s] never been stopped and [is] coming off the biggest win of his career. So it’s a guy coming in with a lot of confidence. He’s fought in 10 countries, so traveling is not an issue for him, it’s not like he is going to be freaked because he’s in a new place. So he brings a lot to the table,” Deas said. “You know we are in with a monster, but then again so is he. He’s in with Deontay and he’s never seen speed like he’s going to see with Deontay.”

Wilder sat on the corner of the ring. He was away from all the cameras now. All that was on his mind was his mission. He began to wrap his hands. It was time for work. He only had five days left in Tuscaloosa, and then he was returning to Birmingham, which was something he still couldn’t quite believe.

“It’s always a pleasure, an honor to be able to fight in my home state,” Wilder said. “You know when I set a goal to have boxing here in the state of Alabama, these are the things I was going for, I had dreamt of. You know, just for my dreams to come true right in front of my face, let me know man that this was supposed to happen.”