Deontay Wilder is seeking to make the tenth defence of his WBC heavyweight crown when he fights Luis Ortiz on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The ‘Bronze Bomber’ blitzed his way past the Cuban in March 2018 in an enthralling ten-round encounter which ebbed and flowed on a barmy night in Brooklyn.
Ortiz buzzed the Alabama-native with a series of stinging combinations in the eighth round, having been on the canvas himself. However, Wilder rallied to produce a sensational stoppage to swing the momentum and reclaim his title.
Not for the first time in his professional career, the 34-year-old from Tuscaloosa was down on the cards before his freakish power managed to change the course of a fight.
Against Artur Szpilka, Wilder missed 175 punches in their January 2016 bout and knew after nine rounds he was behind on the cards. However, he delivered a counter right hand which saw the ringside medical team leap from the seats to tend to the Pole.
And in his incredible tussle with Tyson Fury 11 months ago, many felt as though the ‘Gyspy King’ was on course to stun the world and leave the Staples Center with the prestigious green and gold strap. But a right-left combination floored Fury in the final round and the result was a controversial split decision draw.
Power punchers in boxing are perhaps the most keenly studied, yet least understood phenomena in the sport. There is no secret to bone-crunching success, nor is there a guaranteed formula.
Ahead of his world title rematch with Ortiz, talkSPORT.com has taken a closer look at what makes Wilder such a ferocious puncher and why the heavyweight division is terrified of the ‘Bronze Bomber’.
“So I get up at 8 o’clock in the morning,” Wilder told AL.com. “I eat me a good breakfast from pancakes, to Polish sausage, to patty sausage and some good eggs.
“One morning I will eat egg McMuffins and it will rotate throughout breakfast time with that.
“I come back again at 11.30am, eat a nice Alfredo chicken pasta with corn on the cob, maybe have some nice garlic bread toasted alongside that with a protein shake. I will also have a protein shake in the morning with the breakfast.
“2pm will be a sandwich, you know, maybe ham and cheese, maybe tuna, with two boiled eggs.
“The 5 o’clock [meal] will consist of a Salisbury steak, with mashed potatoes and green beans and I eat a lot of red potatoes; I eat a lot of yams.
“And then at 7.30pm, I have a nice T-Bone steak, some more red potatoes, we might have some squash in there and some green beans.
“Each day is different, with different meals that come with it. But that mostly sums it up.
“They just feed me the food, I just eat it! My stomach sometimes can be so fat that I have to rub it for hours. I’m not a big eater!”
By his own admission, Deontay Wilder does not lift heavy weights and he does not specifically work on his speed either.
“I put my power up with anybody, period,” the champion says. “And it’s natural; I don’t have to lift a weight, period.
“I don’t have to go to a weight room, I don’t have to go to a gym period and my athleticism, my body frame, my build will be what it is.
“Ask the people that’s around me. It’s in living colour.”
Alongside co-trainers Jay Deas and 1984 Olympic Gold medallist Mark Breland, Wilder instead works on pure technical ability.
After the incredible fight with Fury, Wilder admitted his training would focus on ‘getting back to the basics’.
“Basically I’ve been getting away with a lot of things as a champion,” he told Tha Boxing Voice. “And just as a fighter in general, with my style, with my height, there’s a lot of things I get away with.
“After I won my title, slowly but surely, things started to get down. It wasn’t to the point where I didn’t have to do certain things no more, but I felt like I’m going to challenge myself.
“You all have seen it; I’ll come in here and just hit the mitts and spar. That’s it; no running, no conditioning and stuff, no heavy bag, no speed bag, no jump rope, no nothing!
“But that’s all I’ve ever done – hitting mitts and sparring.”
His work at the Skyy Boxing Gym since October 2005 has seen countless opponents, but also trainers left in agony. In an interview with The Guardian before Wilder’s sensational first-round annihilation of Dominic Breazeale, Deas revealed what it’s like to train a puncher as ferocious as his protégé.
“I’ve got three mitt men,” he said. “He needs three mitt men. One is never going to last very long.”
“To a huge degree you’re born with [power],” he added. “You can improve power about 10 per cent through conditioning and technique, so you can take a guy who’s a nothing puncher and make him at least respectable, and you can take a guy who’s a pretty good thumper, and make him a 10 per cent better thumper.
“But the best I’ve ever seen anybody improve is about 10 per cent.”
It’s a little known secret Wilder is a certified scuba diver.
It’s one way to work up an appetite and eat all those red potatoes.
“Not only am I dangerous on top of land, but I’m dangerous in the [ocean],” he said.
“I can travel all over the world and scuba dive.
“It’s a great hobby of mine, I love it.”
Before he won Bronze at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Wilder competed as an amateur in the 91kg (201lb) category.
In 2007, he pulled off a series of shock results to win the National Golden Gloves and the US Championships. For the next year, he competed at the same weight.
When he finally turned professional in November 2008, the ‘Bronze Bomber’ stayed roughly at around 220lb (99.7kg) as he amassed victory after victory.
However, for the first fight against Ortiz, Wilder weighed in at 214lb and then 212.5lbs for the fight against Fury – his lowest since turning professional in 2008.
The American possesses a classic ectomorph body shape; tall, with a light build and lean muscle. However, he wants to send a clear message to the rest of the heavyweights by accumulating even more mass.
“My goal was always to be 245lbs,” Wilder said after the draw with Fury. “That’s what my goal has always been. But somebody’s going to get hurt.
“If weight brings big-man power, and I already had the power and the speed, somebody’s going to get hurt. So if people want to see me put on weight and someone get hurt, then so be it.
“But you never want to see no one like Adonis Stevenson. I’m always thinking about him and I tell people all the time – we risk our lives in the ring. We risk our lives.
“And I know I have the power to hurt anyone – anyone.”
For the fight against Breazeale in May, Wilder was 223.25 lb (101kg). His career heaviest was against Eric Molina when he weighed in at 229 lb to stop Eric Molina back in 2015.
Whatever he weighs in for the rematch with Ortiz, the ‘Bronze Bomber’ will always pack a punch.