Deontay Wilder is two days away from making his return to action against Robert Helenius, with the heavyweight sluggers set to meet in a FOX PBC pay-per-view main event from Brooklyn.
Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KO) and Helenius (31-3, 20 KO) are known to be friendly outside of the ring and were in professional mode — while promising a fireworks-laden fight — on Thursday at the final press conference, leaving the entertainment portion of the show to Caleb Plant and Anthony Dirrell.
Former 168 lb titleholders Plant (21-1, 12 KO) and Dirrell (34-2-2, 25 KO) were happy to take the ball and run with it, particularly Dirrell, as the 37-year-old veteran talked some pretty heavy trash toward Plant, who seemed content to try and bait Dirrell’s emotions.
Here’s what the fighters had to say on Thursday.
“I’ve got tremendous love and respect for Robert. We’ve known each other for years, and he’s come to my camps (in the past). They say iron sharpens iron, and we’ve definitely done that. The reason I agreed to this fight is he’s been on a winning streak. He’s been looking great. And this is for a WBC eliminator. If I’m gonna come back, why not fight the best, and fight for something that’s worth fighting for?
“I don’t have long. I only want three years (more) in this business. I’m ready to fight the best, and I’m willing and able to do whatever I’ve got to do to make it back to the top.”
“I’ve had some of my most dramatic and exciting knockouts and most enjoyable moments in this arena. When I got off the plane, the energy here just felt amazing. ... It almost feels like a second home to me. I’m always here and put on my best performances here. I’m not looking for nothing less than a great performance. The fans are in for a treat. There’s a lot on the line, and I think I’ve got the right opponent for us to give the fans what we want to see.
“He’s got a warrior heart and a warrior mentality, and everyone knows I have a warrior heart and mentality, as well. When you’re fighting with your heart, you’re willing to go out on your shield. That’s what it’s going to be, we’re going to go out on our shields.”
“You can’t look past Robert Helenius. ... I put in, like, 600 and something rounds (of sparring) in. It’s been a tremendous camp. ... We had to slow down a little bit, because I was over-training. It’s been amazing, though, because you can go so many years doing the same thing, over and over again, and it becomes boring. So we changed up a lot of things — we changed location, I was out in Vegas for a long time, and then I did my sparring back in Alabama. It refreshed a lot of things. We went back to the basics of a lot of things.
“This second phase of my career is all about having fun. I always tell people I’m happy and I’m at peace in my life. Where I am, the grass is green. Can’t nobody knock me off of that.
“Although we’re sparring partners and we respect each other highly, understand that the beast will come out on Saturday night. People ain’t gotta worry about, ‘Well, they’re friends, and he said he loves him and all that.’ It’s going to be fire, that’s for sure.”
On Oleksandr Usyk saying he wants to fight Wilder next: “Many people have said many things to me about fighting me, and when the time came, they went the other way. I reached out and some of my guys that are close to me that know him, I asked them about his character as a person. Sometimes your character will tell who you are. I asked if he’s a man of his word, and they confirmed to me that he is. I’m going to hold him to his word. Hopefully he’s a man of his word, and upon being victorious, we’ll see what happens. That’s the great thing about being a heavyweight in a small division, you’re always one fight away from a title shot.”
“I bring the excitement to the heavyweight division, and I’m back, baby. It’s going to be an explosion. You’ve got two fighters who are putting their lives on the line. We don’t want to exit that ring unless we become victorious, that means if we have to go out on our shield, and you know what I mean by that. When I’m in a fight, I keep people on the edge of their seat. They don’t know what’s gonna happen, but when it happens, baby, bam, goodnight.”
“I’ve given my life to this sport, so of course this means everything to me. I’ve been doing all the work I can do to give my best self in this fight. I’m ready.”
“We’ve been doing a lot of footwork, a lot of jabs, a lot of sparring, as well. We’ve been at it the whole year; we didn’t know the opponent in the beginning of the year, but we’ve been training all year.
“I don’t know what to tell you guys anymore. I’ve been in so many press conferences. But we’ve been doing a lot of good work. I feel like this is my time now. The fight is going to be really, really good.”
“(Being the underdog) gives me more strength, more power.”
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in myself. I would have found an easier job to do if I didn’t believe in myself.”
“It’s been a minute since I’ve been in the ring, but shortly after (the Canelo Alvarez) fight, we got right back to work, cleaned up a few things, and kept working on things we had a lot of success with in my last fight. I’ve been working ever since, we’ve been in the dark, grinding, staying focused, and I’m excited to show y’all what we’ve been working on.”
“Leading up to this fight, he’s had a lot to say about me, how much he hates me and don’t like me, and nobody else likes me. But I’m not here to talk about emotions, this ain’t a therapy session. I couldn’t care less if people like me, I’m here to do a job. I’m a professional.”
“He’s had a lot to say about my resume, and how I haven’t fought anyone. He’s somebody who has about twice the amount of fights that I do, and he has four people on his resume who were either current or former world champions at the time he fought them. I have about half the fights he has, and I have three people who were either current or former world champions at the time I fought them. And that’s with half the fights that he has. On Saturday, I’ll have four — just as many as him, with half the fights he has.
“Are you a bum? Are you a bum? ‘Cause you said all I fight is bums. I’m fighting you. That’s all you need to worry about. He said all I fight is bums, but I’m fighting him. Anything we’ve done before this, it’s not gonna matter once the bell rings. He’s gotta fight me, I’ve gotta fight him.”
“I just feel like I’m going to put a vicious ass whooping on that boy. After that, he’ll be riding off into the sunset, and that’ll be it for him.”
“You see how easy it is to get him mad? You see this? You see how mad he is?”
“He’s a former two-time world champion. I’m prepared, we worked really hard for this moment. But I think he does bark a lot more than he bites.”
“Becoming a two-time champ would mean everything to me. I’ve worked my whole life tirelessly to get to this point, but I still have a lot more fights to give the fans. But first things first, you don’t get to that world title without focusing on the fight in front of you. That’s all I’m focused on.”
“I’m just going to get my hand raised in fashion. That’s about it. I hope he’s fully prepared.”
“We all go in that ring and give it our all, but I’m gonna go in there and whoop his ass, simple as that.”
“You keep bringing up the same shit, (that) I don’t like you. I don’t have to like you. Motherfucker, ain’t (nothing) in the rule book (that says) I’ve got to like your ass. Where’s that shit at? Show me.”
“Just don’t run. Don’t get on your bike, bitch.”
“Who have you fought? Tell me. Tell me who you’ve fought. Shut up. Stop talking.”
“You ain’t never whooped nobody like that, what are you talking about? Who have you whooped like that? The only way you could retire me is running around the fuckin’ ring until I get old. That’s the only way you can retire me, you can’t do nothing, man. Fuck you can do? You can’t hit. Keep on laughing, bitch.”
“He ain’t got shit. Don’t lie to that boy. He don’t got nothin’, he’s a bitch. ... You’re scared. You’re thinkin’, boy. Think! Think good, too.”
“(The underdog odds) are just another way for me to make a little bit more money. That’s peoples opinions at the end of the day. That’s what they think, and it’s fine.”
“Caleb ain’t showed me nothing special. Period. No fight. He’s showed me nothing special. He’s a good boxer, but other than that, he’s showed me nothing special.”
“I think you’ve got to go into every fight with a different game plan, because everyone don’t fight the same. We’ve got a game plan for Caleb and we’re going to use it.”
“At the end of the day, I’m gonna get my hand raised.”
Watch the Wilder vs Helenius press conference