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Deontay Wilder, Over Steak and Fries, Relives His Biggest Fight

Watching two heavyweights pound each other on screen while one of them is sitting with you is a little strange.

Like when the champion sees a scorecard showing himself down four points and erupts, screaming an epithet at the television to show his displeasure.

On Thursday, five days after battling Tyson Fury to a wild and disputed draw, Deontay Wilder, the American heavyweight, sat down over a filet mignon and fries to watch the fight for the first time.

Plenty of people felt that Wilder would have lost that fight — and his championship belt — had he not put Fury on the canvas twice in the later rounds. As you might expect, Wilder sees it differently.

“I don’t think he did enough to beat the champion,” said Wilder, who viewed the fight with reporters at a Manhattan steakhouse. “You’ve got to beat me; you’ve got to dominate. How you going to win doing pitty-pat?”

Wilder seemed none the worse for wear. Indeed, he was plenty feisty whenever it was suggested that he might have lost the fight, or indeed even a round or two.

“Most definitely, I was the more aggressive fighter, and I landed the more effective punches,” he said.

Those with an interest in the matter want to spin the fight as the one that relaunches the heavyweight division after years of sporting irrelevance. And it is true that the bout brought its share of action; in particular, there was a refreshing lack of holding and clinching, something that is endemic to the big weight classes.

“The heavyweight division hasn’t had a lot of shine in a long time,” Wilder said.

At the viewing, Wilder watched himself arrive in the ring in a golden crown and mask, which has brought him attention far beyond the usual boxing world, including an appearance on “The Late Late Show with James Corden.”

“I feel I’m the king of the division,” he said. “I want to be a warrior king. You will probably see me more often with that crown and mask on.”

As the early rounds unfolded on a big screen, Wilder remained emphatic that the judges were wrong in calling it a draw: “He ain’t applying the pressure, I am.”

But he acknowledged that he might not have been at his peak and was reflective about what went wrong: “You saw the best of Fury. You didn’t see the best of me. It was my anxiousness to get him out of there. I couldn’t calm down.

“He’s got big man power, that’s it.” (Fury is by far the bigger man, weighing in at 256 to Wilder’s 212 for the fight. And he is not exactly chiseled from stone, particularly in the gut.)

While watching the fight, Wilder saved his greatest scorn for Floyd Mayweather, who was interviewed after the fifth round and said that Fury was way ahead. “He don’t want anyone to have shine but him. Anyone that seems like they’re going to be the next star. They don’t want to see that greatness. It’s sad.”

He was willing to occasionally say some good things about his opponent: “He was definitely sticking the jab.”

Fury is a showman in the ring, sticking out his tongue and putting his hands behind his back. How should a fighter react when an opponent plays around like that? “You continue to punch him in the face,” Wilder said.

The fight took its first decisive turn in the ninth round, when Wilder knocked down Fury for the first time. “I don’t think he’s hurt; he was buzzed,” Wilder said, watching it again. “There’s a difference.”

The most-remembered round of the fight will certainly be the 12th. Wilder put Fury on the canvas again, and at the count of five it seemed extremely unlikely the big man would get up. But by 10 he was on his feet, to the surprise of onlookers and Wilder. “I was amazed. If you didn’t believe in God, you do now,” he said.

The 10 count can be subjective, and it seemed as if this one went some amount longer than 10 seconds. “You’re damn right he was slow,” Wilder said. “I feel that knockdown was it.”

But he acknowledged he did not follow up as ruthlessly as he could have for the remainder of the round. “I probably punched myself out a little bit,” Wilder said. “But I feel like I did enough to win the fight.”

Going into Saturday, Wilder was 40-0 with 39 knockouts. So waiting for a decision was an unusual experience for him. “It’s exciting and scary at the same time, because you don’t know what the judges see,” he said.

Wilder was also able to shed light on the enduring mystery of what the fighters are whispering to each other in the moments after a fight. “He was doing all the talking. He was telling me how he loved me. He kissed me several times on my head, everywhere.”

It was a draw, which means, of course, that a rematch is promised, perhaps by spring. Wilder will try to do some things differently. “We’re going to try to pick up the weight. I never worried about weight before. I have devastating power these guys don’t have.” He said he hoped to come in significantly heavier, perhaps even 245. “It’s going to take some time, but we’re going to put it on.”

The result, he hopes, will be an even more devastating punch. “If weight brings power, someone’s going to get hurt. I know I have the power to hurt anyone, anyone. I’m going to hit you. I’m going to do that. I don’t know when I’m going to hit you, but when I do, good night.”

A Wilder-Fury rematch would get its share of attention. But the holy grail for many fight fans is a unified heavyweight division, like in the days of Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano and John L. Sullivan. Wilder is the World Boxing Council champion, but three other belts are held by Anthony Joshua of Britain. Both camps have blamed the other for preventing a Wilder-Joshua fight from ever being scheduled.

Fury made a chicken noise in an interview after his fight with Wilder when asked about Joshua. Money is at the root of the disagreement, most reports say.

A Wilder-Joshua superfight might really be the one that gets the division going again. “I’m going to knock him out,” Wilder said. But will the fight really happen?

“You’ll see it,” Wilder promised. “But don’t hold your breath.”

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