Heavyweight world champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder and French heavyweight Johann “Reptile” Duhaupas faced-off for the first time Thursday before they enter the ring for Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on NBC Saturday, September 26 from the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.
Also in attendance at Thursday’s press conference was 2012 U.S. Olympian Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale who battles “Big” Fred Kassi in a 10-round heavyweight bout and undefeated prospect Charles “Missouri” Martin who takes on Vicente “Bufalo” Sandez in 10-rounds of heavyweight action.
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment in association with Bruno Event Team, start at only $25 and are on sale now. For tickets please visit www.alabamatitlefight.com.
Here is what the participants had to say Thursday:
“I’m so happy to have the opportunity to defend my title in my home state. I just defended my title a few months ago and I can’t wait to do it again.
“I’m always looking to have my face on new networks and NBC is where a lot of the greats that came before me started. I can’t wait to display my talent on the network. I can’t wait for Saturday night.
“This is my happiest point. Words can’t even express the feeling that I have. I love what I do. I’m so passionate about boxing. If she was a woman, I’d put a ring on her.
“I’d like to thank Duhaupas for accepting the challenge. If anyone is looking past him, they’re a fool. He’s a tall guy, with a good record who’s never been knocked out. I have friends all over the world who have told me not to look past him.
“Any man that steps in the ring, definitely gets my full attention in respect. The heavyweights are the hard-hitters. When people get dressed up to see a heavyweight fight, there’s one thing they want to see – knockouts.
“Right now, there are two tall guys with power that are determined and dedicated. There is one challenger, trying to become the first heavyweight champion from his country. There is a difference between being here for the opportunity or for the money. Guys here for the opportunity, they come to fight.
“I’ve been training extremely hard for this opportunity. I have a great team behind me. I’ve worked so hard to get that belt and I have to work even harder to keep it. I have a target on my back now. I love that feeling of the world wanting what I have.
“I’m excited to be back home once more. I’m excited about all the fans that will be tuning in on NBC. It’s going to be a packed crowd full of my people.
“I’m taking this very seriously. This is one of the biggest fights of my career. I’m ready to defend this title. Now is the time.”
“I’m very thankful to be here and I’m so glad I accepted this fight. I’m someone who has worked very hard to be here.
“It’s because of all my hard work that I am here today, ready to fight for a world title. I’ve traveled a lot to train with the best boxers in the world. I am here for a reason, and that is to win the title on Saturday.
“It’s an immense pleasure to be boxing here in the United States. It’s been a magical country to me ever since I was little. When I walk around in the streets here, I feel like I’m in the movies.”
“It’s a pleasure to be here. It’s an honor to be on a stage like this with Deontay Wilder. I got some fireworks coming as well. I’m planning to stop the show early.”
“I’m coming to bring fireworks on Saturday night and to let you know what a superstar looks like. Thank you for coming out and I’m looking forward to putting on a show.”
JAY DEAS, Wilder’s Trainer
“It’s great to be here. I’m looking around the room and I see a lot of phenomenal fighters who are going to be on this undercard. You don’t want to be late because you want to see all of these guys.
“This is going to be a great heavyweight title fight. Scouting a guy like Johann Duhaupas is not easy. He’s big and strong with a great record. He’s never been stopped. He’s tough, determined and ready for the challenge.
“If anyone is looking past Duhaupas, it’s not us. We’ve been focused on him since day one. This is the biggest challenge of Deontay Wilder’s career. Deontay knows what a challenge this is.
“We had 12 sparring partners come into camp, which is more than we’ve ever had. That’s because we know what a big event and challenge this is. We’re not looking past anybody.
“This is one of the best camps we’ve ever had. We’re in the gym day in and day out. That’s where the real work is done. You’ll see it all pay-off on Saturday night.”
LOU DIBELLA, President of DiBella Entertainment
“It’s amazing to see how much excitement there is here for Deontay. He is the finest young athlete that we have in the sport. On Saturday night you’ll be able to see him in action for the third time this year, which is an amazing thing.
“Deontay fighting this often proves that he is dedicated to his craft and to improving. He’s already one of the best heavyweights in the world today and he’s still a work in progress.
“To put on gloves for the first time at 21 and to win a Bronze a couple of years later and win a world title while still in his twenties, it’s tremendous. What he can do between now and 39, will be truly special.
“Having Deontay fighting on free television is a big deal. NBC primetime is a big deal. The heavyweight division has suffered some decline. I’ve watched Muhammad Ali fight on free television. Some of the greatest of all time developed on free television.
“I’m so excited about a lot of people getting the chance to see this young, charismatic champion fight on free television.”