Boxing fans have heard of Deontay Wilder. But even those who have no idea who he is are unlikely to want to antagonise him for no reason.
The 6’7” American heavyweight represented his country at the 2008 Olympics, winning bronze. As a pro, the 28-year-old is 31-0, winning all 31 fights by knockout including one against Britain’s Audley Harrison in April 2013.
With all that in mind, can anyone explain to The Pugilist what exactly would possess a social media troll to not only verbally abuse ‘The Bronze Bomber’ non-stop via Twitter, but to go one step further and challenge this powerful trained boxer to a fight?
Charlie Zelenoff did just that. After a bombardment of attacks on Wilder for the last three years, he agreed to trade fists with Wilder in Zelenoff’s gym – and even signed a waiver beforehand which stated he would not take legal action against anything the heavyweight did to him.
The two changed into gym gear and put on gloves, as per the very cautious ground rules laid out in the contract they had both men sign for the gym brawl.
"It was a great contract and he was willing to sign it," Wilder told TMZ "He agreed to all of the terms. He knew what was going on."
Zelenoff, though in good shape himself, was no match for a professional boxer incensed over the troll’s racial slurs and remarks against the boxer’s young daughter, who suffers from spina bifida.
Wilder said afterward: "He said he was going to murder me. He said he was going to tape my daughter's mouth ... when dealing with my kids, that's below the belt. That's what really got me."
You can watch clips of the one-sided ‘bout’ at the Hollywood Boxing Gym from Wednesday night in the above video.
And below, Wilder explains some of the reasoning behind why he accepted the challenge and what he hopes Zelenoff learned from it all.
"I genuinely care for the guy,” Wilder added in the TMZ interview.
“I want him to stop [harassing people] before he messes with the wrong person. You never know who you're dealing with."
Unfortunately, Zelenoff didn’t appear to learn his lesson: after being floored twice by the boxer and being spared from a knockout blow by Wilder’s own entourage, Zelenoff yells “I’m the best, I’m still the best” as he is chased out of the door by Deontay.
Those with a keen eye may notice Wilder is actually wearing a right-handed glove on each hand for the scrap, having rushed to get ready for the heated rumble.
Wilder says the error may have in fact saved Zelenoff from serious damage had he landed that left hook with the correct glove on. "He would have been hurt,” Wilder said.
The Alabama-born fighter could also soon be a world heavyweight champion – the undefeated slugger has been widely tipped to challenge the winner of Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola, who battle on Saturday for the vacant WBC crown – the only world heavyweight title not owned by Wladimir Klitschko.
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