WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has landed himself in hot water with the World Boxing Council with controversial comments regarding ring death.
Wilder is set to defend his title against former champion Dominic Breazeale this weekend and has made numerous allusions to the possible death of his opponent.
Speaking to the media scrum this week in the final build to Wilder/Breazeale, the champion said: “His life is on the line in this fight and I do mean his life.”
Wilder has also stated that boxing is the only sport where a man can avoid prosecution for killing their opponent in a fight. He made headlines in the past for saying he “wanted a body on [my] record,” in a radio interview.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said that such comments are “completely against the spirit of the sport,” revealing that a hearing will be held.
The news follows backlash from the boxing world. Many figures in boxing responded on social media. Frank Bruno MBE said: “This guy will say anything to heighten his profile. As a former WBC heavyweight champion, I never got in a ring to kill a man.”
He said: “This gives boxing a bad name. This is a sport, we’re not gladiators these are not Roman times, we shake hands afterwards and you go home to your families.”
A boxing legend and former opponent, Lennox Lewis agrees: This isn’t what this sport is about. We aren’t savages. We are pugilists. I understand selling a fight and creating public interest but we can do better.”
He continues: “In a dangerous sport where lives are on the line, this is nothing to aspire to or to put out into the universe.”
Lewis and Bruno were rivals when they were active, all be it not as heated as Wilder and Breazeale. An altercation in the past may have sparked the anger between the two. The fighters and their teams were involved in an altercation at a hotel earlier in their careers.
Nevertheless, Breazeale does not appear to be shaken. He is quoted by Michael Benson of TalkSport as saying: “I think he’s in a situation where he’s got to talk and talk until he finally feels comfortable…like a chihuahua barking at the fence. As soon as the fence gets opened, he’s like ‘Uhh, what do I do now?”
Wilder’s biggest potential opponent is unified champion Anthony Joshua, who faces Andy Ruiz at Madison Square Garden on June 1. Could we see a confrontation between Wilder and Joshua, setting up a fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship?