Unbeaten Deontay Wilder has never lacked for highlight-reel knockout or violent displays of power throughout 39 professional bouts. Yet something felt different -- if not outright scary -- about the aggression he used to finish Bermane Stiverne in their November 2017 rematch.
Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) dispatched Stiverne, the only man to take him the distance, in less than one round following a trio of savage knockdowns. The statement performance,, came off the heels of original opponent, Luis Ortiz, becoming the third straight to fail a drug test after signing to fight Wilder.
As Wilder, 32, prepares for his March 3 return against Ortiz in Brooklyn, New York, (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET) he admits it wasn't anger that fueled him to such a Tysonesque dismantling of Stiverne, whom he outpointed with a broken hand in 2015 to win the world title. The Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native chalks it up to something entirely different.
"I was possessed," Wilder told CBS Sports during an extensive interview that will air next week on our "In This Corner" Podcast. "At one point in time in the fight, I watched myself whupping on this man. I was standing on the outside of my body just watching and observing myself beat this man. Every move, that wasn't Deontay. That was the 'Bronze Bomber,' for sure but he was at another level. It's crazy."
After Stiverne reached his feet with just seven seconds to go in Round 1 following the second knockdown, Wilder ran forward to juke and sidestep his opponent before uncorking a vicious five-punch combination that left Stiverne folded up on his back like an accordion. Wilder's mannerisms were so crazed as he stood over Stiverne's body that referee Arthur Mercante Jr. nearly tackled him in order to remove the champion from the scene of the crime.
Although Wilder remains a bit too raw at times for his harshest critics to elevate him above unified champion Anthony Joshua as the best heavyweight in the world, Wilder possesses the kind of frightening one-punch power that no one else in the division can match.
"Sometimes it can get scary for me," Wilder said. "I have so much power that sometimes I get scared that I am going to hit a person so hard in the wrong spot and that will be it because I possess so much power. And it's natural! It's nothing that I have to build on; it's something that's naturally there and that's the scary part about it."
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Should Wilder win his toughest fight to date on paper against Ortiz, he can only remain hopeful that Joshua, who faces WBO champion Joseph Parker on March 31 in Wales, will eventually agree to face him in the biggest fight heavyweight boxing can make.
The only thing Wilder can do in the meantime is finish opponents with the same dominance he showed in the Stiverne rematch, provided he can reenter the same level possession. The source of that power, according to Wilder, is his own belief system.
"I guess it's just the eagerness to win and the willingness," Wilder said. "I'm a believer in my own hype. I believe in myself like none other. I believe in what I say like none other. I believe everything I say I'm going to do. When it's time for the fight, that's what brings out the 'Bronze Bomber.' I speak it first, I believe it, and then I receive it. It's in those lines because our words are powerful.
"What we put out in the universe, what we say upon this Earth, this magical world that we live in, it will manifest. But the thing about it, you have to have patience and we have to have what some will call time. We all know that time won't wait for no man, but we have to obtain the passion of patience and knowing it won't come when we want but in that particular time, in that particular moment when it shows up, not only will I show up but I will show out.
"I'm going to show people what I have been talking about all the time that I am the best, I do hit the hardest, and I will be the king of the division. America has the most baddest man on the planet, right there, and I'm willing to prove it each and every time."