Deontay Leshun Wilder is a former Olympic bronze medallist, WBC world heavyweight champion and a fighter regarded by many observers as one of the most explosive ‘pound-for-pound’ punchers in the sport.
'The Bronze Bomber' was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on October 22 1985, and he reigned as WBC world heavyweight champion from 2015 to 2020. Wilder lost the WBC belt to Ring Magazine champion Tyson Fury in a 2020 rematch, after retaining the belt in their first fight courtesy of a contentious split draw in 2018.
Wilder lost his trilogy bout against Fury in Las Vegas after being knocked out in round 11 of their October 2021 tussle. The American had Fury on the floor in two of their three fights but failed to keep him there and therefore the ‘Gypsy King’ remains the only fighter in the world to have ever beaten the American in the pro ranks.
Wilder is a big man even by modern heavyweight standards. He is 6′ 7″ with an 83in reach and is a fighter who can generate devastating power with either hand. His ‘Bronze Bomber' ring moniker is a nod to the fact he won bronze in the 2008 Olympic Games and is also a tribute to one of his ring heroes Joe Louis, who was known as the ‘Brown Bomber'
Wilder has a 43-3-1 (42) pro record and has an electrifying KO percentage of 97.67%. The American is known for his destructive power, having knocked out every opponent he has defeated in a pro career which began back in 2008.
Deontay Wilder record - pro and amateur
Unlike a lot of world heavyweight champions, Wilder did not have an extensive amateur career and his record in the amateur code was said to be 30-5 before turning over. He turned to boxing late - age 20 - having earlier had dreams of being an NFL star.
However, within two years of walking into the Skyy Boxing Gym and meeting trainer Jay Deas, he had won the US Championships and National Golden Gloves at 201lbs (91 kg).
Wilder represented USA at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, beating Abdelaziz Touilbini of Algeria and Morocco’s Mohamed Arjaoui before losing to classy Italian Clemente Russo in the semi-final, a result which earned him a bronze medal. Incidentally, in the same tournament the vastly experienced Russo also got the better of current WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight king Oleksandr Usyk in the quarters and sent him home from the competition.
Wilder turned pro in November 2008, blasting out an overmatched Ethan Cox in two rounds. The wins and early finishes piled up after that until his moment came in January 2015 when he boxed Bermane Stiverne for the WBC heavyweight crown. Most observers fancied a short but violent fight, but Wilder boxed well on the night behind an authoritative jab, peppering Stiverne with right hands also as he romped to a decisive victory on the cards to become the first American fighter since Shannon ‘The Cannon’ Briggs in 2007 to win a major world title at heavyweight.
Aside from his trilogy with Fury, Wilder's most high-profile title defences came against Luis Ortiz. The pair first met in March 2018 and Wilder came through his first real crisis as champion - he was behind on the cards early on and rocked by the gifted Cuban in round seven - before eventually prevailing.
It was a tough night against a slick and dangerous foe, but showing he had a heart and cojones to go with that infamous punching power, Wilder would go on to drop Ortiz three times in the 10th before the referee waved it off for a memorable TKO win. Their rematch in November 2019 was just as engrossing as he produced another sensational finish. Wilder was behind on all three cards - this time in Brooklyn, New York - and being outfoxed before ending the fight in a violent seventh round.
Wilder's last bout brought his third career defeat - a one-sided decision loss to former WBO heavyweight king Joseph Parker on that 'Day of Reckoning' card in Saudi Arabia in December 2023.
Wilder struggled all night after fighting only one round in 26 months, and seemed unable to pull the trigger as that devastating right hand never landed a meaningful blow.
The final scorecards were 118-111, 118-110 and 120-108 in favour of Parker.
That defeat by Parker ruined some big plans - Wilder had signed to face Anthony Joshua in a long-awaited superfight in Riyadh on March 9, 2024. That appears to be dead in the water.
We now wait to see who will Wilder will fight next.
Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury
Wilder and Fury gave their all against each other in three sensational fights between 2018 and 2021, and as heavyweight trilogies go, this was right up there with anything served up by Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier or Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe.
Their styles and attitudes absolutely complemented each other and there was never a boring moment in any of their fights. The ebb and flow, the blood and guts, the dramatic knockdowns - those fights had everything.
Their first fight was an unexpected classic as ‘The Gypsy King’ produced a sensational performance to outbox Wilder for much of the contest. However, the fight will always be remembered for Wilder leaving Fury flat on his back in round 12 and celebrating victory with the crowd and TV cameras. Fury looked unconscious at that point, but the ref persevered with the count anyway and miraculously the man from Morecambe not only beat it but also ended the round in the ascendancy. Arguably the most iconic heavyweight moment of the last 20 years.
The scoring was inevitably contentious. One judge went for Fury 114-112 while another bizarrely had Wilder as a 115-111 victor. Phil Edwards - the only British judge - ironically scored the fight 113-113, meaning Wilder retained his treasured green-and-gold WBC strap with the official result called as a draw.
On February 22, 2020, the pair met again in Las Vegas, yet on this night Fury was at his destructive best. He took control of the centre of the ring and dominated Wilder, knocking him down twice, before Wilder's corner threw in the towel in the seventh round.
The third fight was arguably the best of the lot. At the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in October 2021, Fury closed the book on Wilder in a violent back-and-forth showdown which contained five knockdowns in total. Wilder hit the canvas in the third round and may well have been saved by the bell. Incredibly, it was Fury’s turn to taste the canvas - twice - in round four as Wilder threatened to turn the fight upside down with that detonator of a right hand.
Wilder was down again in the 10th but the fight was still in the balance with both men having given so much of themselves.
However, in the penultimate stanza the increasingly ragged American was sent crashing face first to the deck courtesy of a savage right to the temple and Fury had retained his belts amid chaotic scenes in Sin City.
Deontay Wilder net worth
As of November 2023, Deontay Wilder's net worth was estimated to be north of $30 million. That is not bad for a man who once delivered crates of Budweiser at 5am in the morning after dropping out of college to help pay his daughter's medical expenses.
According to Forbes, Wilder pocketed roughly $25 million for the Fury rematch, marking it the biggest payday of his career so far. However, with the money men from the Middle East now very much interested in heavyweight boxing, Wilder should cash in when he faces Parker on December 23 - courtesy of another display of financial might from the Saudi Arabia General Entertainment Authority.
The ‘Bronze Bomber’ is a bit of a philanthropist and does not live an overtly lavish lifestyle, compared for example to someone like Floyd Mayweather Jr. That said, he does live in a stunning $1.2million mansion in Alabama which backs onto the famous and picturesque Lake Tuscaloosa. He also own a few luxury cars including a Lamborghini Aventador and a Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Deontay Wilder wife and family
Deontay married Jessica Scales in 2009. It remains unclear how long before that they met and started dating, but the ‘Bronze Bomber’ had four children with her - two sons and two daughters.
Their eldest daughter - Naieya - suffers from spina bifida (when a baby's spine and spinal cord does not develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine). Wilder is particularly close to Naieya, who he credits with giving him the strength, support and motivation to succeed in the cruellest sport of all due to the way she has battled her own disability.
His three other children with Scales are called Ava, Deontay Jr and Dereon.
Wilder and Scales eventually divorced in 2017 - after eight years of marriage – and he now lives with Telli Swift. The pair have a daughter of their own and Swift is actually a household name in her own right in the US, featuring on WAGS Atlanta (which airs on E! channel).
Deontay Wilder weight
Wilder weighed a career-heaviest 238lbs (17 stones exactly) for his KO defeat by Fury in their epic trilogy fight, and tellingly the ‘Bronze Bomber' then trimmed down for his boxing return against Robert Helenius in October 2022.
Wilder scaled 214.5lbs (15st 4lbs 8oz) for Helenius - who he stopped inside a round - and admitted that he had felt sluggish in that final Fury fight. In his first scrap with Fury, the American was only 212.5lbs and that was the second-lightest weight Wilder has ever boxed at as a pro, only five pounds heavier than the 207¼ he weighed for his pro debut.
Wilder came in super slim vs Parker at just 213lbs - he looked great but the results in the ring did not back up that appearance.