WASHINGTON: Undefeated World Boxing Council champion Deontay Wilder unveiled his master plan Thursday to become the undisputed heavyweight ring king, a path that begins with defending his crown next week.
The 31-year-old American hopes to meet the winner between New Zealand's Joseph Parker and Britain's Hughie Fury in a few months to set up an undisputed title bout in late 2017 against either Britain's Anthony Joshua or Ukraine's Wladimir Klitchko.
Wilder will defend his title in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, on February 25 against unbeaten US challenger Gerald Washington, a replacement for Poland's Andrzej Wawrzyk, who failed a doping test last month.
Wilder, 31, is 37-0 with 36 knockouts, his lone decision win coming over Canada's Bermane Stiverne in 2015 to claim the WBC title, which he will defend for a fifth time.
"It's the hurt business," said Wilder. "I try to go in and knock your head off. I go for the knockouts. Deontay Wilder don't play games. Deontay Wilder comes to destroy the man that's in front of him."
Joshua will fight for his International Boxing Federation and the vacant World Boxing Association crowns on April 29 against Klitschko at London's Wembley Stadium.
Parker, 22-0 with 18 knockouts, will defend his World Boxing Organization crown against Fury, 20-0 with 10 knockouts, on April 1.
"I'm taking one step at a time to unify all the belts in the division," said Wilder. "I don't look past anybody but I look through them. I 'window shop' a little bit.
"I fight Joseph Parker. Joshua and Klitschko, they do what they do. At the end of the year, we combine the belts, two and two [titles for each fighter], to one man, one title, one champion. That's Deontay Wilder. That's what I see."
Washington, 34, is 18-0 with one drawn and 12 knockouts after making his debut only five years ago.
"It's a dream come true," said Washington. "I know I'll be fighting Deontay Wilder in his backyard, but that adds more excitement. I'm ready to take the challenge on."
Wilder interrupted his training to spend eight days in New York in court for a breach of contract lawsuit against Russian fighter Alexander Povetkin, whose positive doping test wiped out a planned fight against Wilder last May.
A US federal court awarded Wilder and promoter Lou DiBella $7 million on Monday in the case.
"It has been a whole big mess but it has been a good mess. We won and that brings some energy to my fight. It's a big booster," said Wilder. "I'm very mind strong. I know things happen. I just have to roll with the punches and adjust. My body might not be in the gym but my mind never left."
This will be Wilder's first fight since breaking his right hand and tearing his right bicep muscle in an eighth-round stoppage of American Chris Arreola last July. Now he faces a second consecutive fill-in fighter for a dope cheat.
"It's sad for the sport. I hope something more can be done about this situation before it ruins the sport," said Wilder. "I want to see some punishment. It needs to be something deeper than taking their money. They need to take their career away from them."