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Premier Boxing Champions

Despite a rash of tragic deaths caused by injuries suffered inside the boxing ring in 2019, Deontay Wilder has made it clear he has no plans to censor himself when it comes to talking up the danger of his legendary punching power.

Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs), the reigning WBC heavyweight champion, is certainly no stranger to public criticism after previously proclaiming his desire to "get a body on my record." The 6-foot-7 slugger also didn't back down in response to comments made by Saturday's opponent Luis Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs) ahead of their rematch at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas (FOX PPV, 9 p.m. ET). 

Ortiz came frighteningly close to a stoppage win in Round 7 of their 2018 title bout before Wilder rallied for a 10th-round TKO, and the 40-year-old Cuban southpaw made a bold proclamation during the October press conference to announce the rematch when he said, "I'm a soldier and willing to die in the ring."

Asked to expand on his statement, Ortiz talked up his dream of becoming the first Cuban heavyweight champion.

"I'm a soldier, I'm a soldier. I'm not going to back out of the battle and now, even less," Ortiz told CBS Sports earlier this month. "This is my second chance and I'm not going to waste it."

Wilder, who was a guest on the "State of Combat" podcast this week, said he prefers to be facing someone with that mindset.

"People say, 'You know, you don't really mean it.' I mean every word that come out of my mouth," Wilder said. "So by him saying he's willing to die in the ring, that lets me know what type of warrior heart that he has. And I'm glad he accepted that contract of willing to die because I'm willing to try to do it. So it's going to be an amazing fight. You don't want to miss it."

Ortiz, who was floored by a Wilder uppercut in Round 5 only to get back up and fight, explained his loss as being caused more by a lack of conditioning than him succumbing to Wilder's power. Ortiz went on to be dropped twice in Round 10 before referee David Fields waved off the fight without a count.

"Even though it went down as a knockout, it wasn't that," Ortiz said through a translator. "I wasn't knocked down, I was completely fatigued and destroyed tired. I would have preferred being knocked out." 

To fix what he described as "my mistake" in the first fight, Ortiz has focused almost exclusively on building up his stamina and has appeared dramatically more ripped in training camp photos. 

"He has to be careful with that because he can overtrain himself," Wilder said. "He can exhaust himself before he even get in the ring with me. He's going to need all the strength and stamina that he needs. I hope he is working on stamina exercises [but] everyone has to have an excuse.

"When guys have an excuse like that, about not being in the best shape when you trained for me, how can you not be in shape? That don't make no sense to me, but every man has to have an excuse to have confidence in himself and to build that confidence back up." 

Not only does Wilder contest that conditioning was the difference in their first fight, he went on break down how Ortiz will need more than stamina to defeat him.

"He definitely knows the measurement of shape that he needs to be in to face a guy like Deontay Wilder because Deontay Wilder doesn't come to play," Wilder said. "Deontay Wilder comes to do serious damage, even to the level of killing a man. But that's just my mindset, that's just the way I am. 

"So good luck on that because where I am sitting, I don't think that was the problem. It was that I was the better man, the stronger man, the faster man, more determined and more hungry. I'm a king and when you are a king, you get off your throne when it's time for battle and when you're done, you sit your ass down and take your armor off because it's time to eat and that's exactly what I have done."