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Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder seeks crowd-pleasing schedule

Deontay Wilder has to agree to a mandatory title defense by October.

In a refreshing move, the heavyweight world champion from Alabama wants to squeeze in a fight even before he takes his obligated challenge from Russia’s Alexander Povetkin.

Wilder (34-0, 33 knockouts), who came to Los Angeles this past weekend to attend the BET Awards, told The Times on Monday he’s planning a Sept. 26 main event on NBC against another challenger, someone such as unbeaten Ukrainian Vyacheslav Glazkov (20-0-1, 12 KOs) or Lucas Browne, a veteran fighter who’s been using social media to call out Wilder.

After that and Povetkin, Wilder said he’ll pursue a date against three-belt heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko sometime in 2016. Wilder previously was a Klitschko sparring partner.

“In my eyes, that’s a fight that happens next year – middle or late – he has a lot of mandatories to fulfill too,” Wilder said.

“I’m ready for anyone in the world. I’m the champion. If I’m not ready now, then I’m in bad luck. A champion has to stay ready. All these guys are getting ready for me.”

The 29-year-old knocked out Eric Molina on June 13 in his home state of Alabama on CBS, but some fans came away unconvinced of Wilder’s staying power as a champion because the journeyman Molina landed punches.

“I’m always going to be my own biggest critic,” Wilder said. “You always want to take something from your last fight to make you better. Once I feel I’m not learning, I’m done. You can always get better.

“Every fight’s not going to be a pretty fight. I made a couple of mistakes [against Molina], he capitalized like he was supposed to, but I recognize it. I adjusted, threw jabs.”

Wilder said it was a challenge avoiding getting caught up in bringing the heavyweight belt to Birmingham earlier this month.

“For some, it was the highlight of their year. Some people who aren’t blessed financially … to go to a heavyweight title fight in their own backyard, it meant so much to them. It makes me feel good, to continue to be the best at what I do.”

That’s part of Wilder’s drive to fight four heavyweight title fights in one calendar year.

“People are gravitating to me,” Wilder said. “I don’t feel I’m bigger and better than anyone. A man who didn’t know me was watching me meet fans the other day and he said, ‘Just your spirit, the way people approach you, I could tell I wanted to meet you and take a picture with you, too.’

“I like people to see that part of me.”

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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