Deontay Wilder would love to fight Oleksandr Usyk or Anthony Joshua in 2023.
The former WBC heavyweight champion has talked about both bouts during the buildup toward his return from a one-year layoff October 15. Wilder has made it clear, however, that he hasn’t overlooked his upcoming opponent, Robert Helenius, just because he has spoken about challenging Ukraine’s Usyk for his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO belts and finally fighting England’s Joshua, who has lost back-to-back 12-round title fights to Usyk.
The hard-hitting Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs), of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is very familiar with Finland’s Helenius (31-3, 20 KOs) because they have sparred many rounds against each other over the past few years. Knowing Helenius so well has helped keep Wilder focused on the task at hand – a 12-rounder FOX Sports Pay-Per-View will televise as the main event of a four-fight telecast from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“I always want a good matchup,” Wilder told Premier Boxing Champions’ Ray Flores during an open workout that took place recently in Las Vegas. “You know what I mean? And Robert, he’s been on a winning streak and he’s here. You know what I mean? I’ve been hearing he’s supposed to be the mandatory for Usyk or however that is laid out or whatever. So, I know he’s coming with his A-plus-plus-plus [game]. You know what I mean? They always do when they fight me.”
The 38-year-old Helenius has stopped Brooklyn’s Adam Kownacki in back-to-back bouts. Like Wilder, Helenius hasn’t fought since last October 9, when he defeated Kownacki (20-3, 15 KOs) by sixth-round technical knockout in their rematch on the Tyson Fury-Wilder undercard at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“I think he’s got even more confidence because he sparred me many, many years,” Wilder said. “So, we kinda know each other. So, at this point in time in camp we’re trying to do things that he’s never seen before. And I’m sure he’s trying to do the same thing, [do things] that I’ve never seen before. And the one thing I like about Robert, he has a warrior heart, just like me.
“So, when you have a warrior heart, it’s hard to quit. It’s hard to give in or surrender. And it’s that same way with Robert. You know what I mean? I’m excited to fight him. I’m excited to be able to share the ring with him come October the 15th. It’s gonna be an amazing fight, and I’m definitely not taking him lightly.”
Wilder also admitted that this fight is different for him than his previous two showdowns with Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs) because he doesn’t dislike Helenius. The trash-talking Fury infuriated Wilder, who lost their third bout by 11th-round knockout.
“I’ve got a great opponent that I highly respect and I love as a man, as a human being,” Wilder said. “So, it’s a different fight than when you have animosity against someone. It doesn’t change the action or the fact that there can only be one winner, but it just make the fight that much more interesting. And [after] obtaining victory, you definitely wanna go and hug that person, like, ‘Man, thank you so much for sharing your energy with me on this night of the fight.’ ”