Deontay Wilder’s demeanor took on a dramatically different tone when he had a chance to speak to the media Saturday night.
The former WBC heavyweight champion scored a spectacular and scary knockout of Robert Helenius at Barclays Center in New York, putting Helenius flat on his back with just three seconds remaining in the opening round. It was Wilder’s first win since suffering back-to-back losses to Tyson Fury.
At the evening’s post-fight press conference, Wilder was asked if he felt concern over his friend and former training partner’s condition, and he expressed remorse.
“I always have concern for all fighters,” Wilder said. “I’m a big advocate for fighters because like I always say, we get done wrong. A sport is something you play. You don’t play this. We risk our lives for you guys’ entertainment and I speak that forever. When you have a relationship with a man, when you love a man, and you build a friendship with another man, although he’s thousands of miles away from where I am, when you see things like that, you want to come to their aid. I wanted to come to his aid but they wouldn’t let me and I understood, because he needed space.
“But my heart goes out to him and I hope he’s doing OK and he can be able to go back to his family, because this is a tough business that we’re in. This is why I tell people, you’ve got to respect all fighters. People always go about worrying about records and all this, ‘He lost, he’s a bum,’ and all that. You get your bum ass in there then and let’s see who’s the bum, really. Because you don’t play this. You can’t play this.
“We demand respect at all times, every fighter that steps in the ring. I don’t care what the record is, I don’t care who they are or where they come from, it demands respect, because if not, then you see things like that happen. And then, ‘Oh, it’s a great knockout,’ Yeah, it’s a great knockout, it’s devastating, making history and stuff like that, but how much is that man going to suffer? He may be alright right now, a little bit, but what about the next day? What about two weeks from now? What about a month from now? Maybe years from now.”
Wilder is widely regarded as one of the greatest power punchers in boxing history. His finish of Helenius was his 42nd knockout in 43 professional victories. While his team was already emotional about his bounce-back win, “The Bronze Bomber” broke down when discussing the potential consequences of Saturday’s result.
In particular, Wilder began to cry as he brought up the case of Prichard Colon, who suffered a devastating brain injury during a fight in 2015 and has been under the care of his family ever since.
“We’ve seen what happened,” Wilder said. “Look at [Colon.] This man ain’t have no kids—They don’t understand, y’all don’t f****** understand what we go through. I don’t even know him like that, but I’ll always be an advocate for us because this man will never know what it feels like to be somebody’s father. That’s one of the most precious things in the world, to be somebody’s father, but he’ll never be nobody’s father. This man will never have a natural ability of living again because he got in the ring to support his family.
“Now his family has to take care of him for the rest of his life. He probably would have been the breadwinner of his family and now they’re seeking help and s*** like that. I could say so much about it. That’s why you can’t play this. This is serious.”
For Helenius, this was the third knockout loss of his career and his second in his past five fights. The 14-year veteran fell to 32-4.
Wilder wondered what effect this latest setback could have on Helenius’ long-term health.
“We don’t know if Robert is going to be the same after this,” Wilder said. “I just did a job. I’m great at what I do. I don’t mean to take people away from their lifestyle of living. I’m just trying to support my family as well. This is what we sign up to do and, unfortunately, there’s a winner and a loser and sometimes it’s a draw. But who takes on that responsibility when they can’t work no more?
“Robert could be the breadwinner of his family, but what if he can’t do it no more, then what? Who pays the bills? Who pays the mortgage? He’s got kids — who will look out for his kids? Because we all know when you lose and it ain’t going right, those same people that when you win, that kiss you and say they love you, they ain’t there for you no more. Where they at?”
Watch Wilder’s full press conference below, courtesy of Fight Hub TV.