(BEIJING, CHINA) - Heavyweight Deontay Wilder (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) claimed a bronze medal on Friday at the Olympic Games. The lone remaining competitor for the United States, Wilder faced off with reigning World Champion Clemente Russo of Italy in semifinal action at the Workers Indoor Arena in Beijing. Wilder dropped a 7-1 decision to Russo in the bout, but by advancing to the semifinal round, won a bronze medal.
The first round of boxing was close and low scoring with Wilder looking to establish his jab and keep the awkward Russo from lunging in. The round nearly ended in a scoreless tie, but Russo scored the lone point late in the period. A second defensive rounded resulted in the same 1-0 score at the halfway mark of the bout and the contest went into the second half up for grabs. Russo grabbed the momentum in the third round, moving out to a 4-0 lead with one round of action remaining. Wilder came out aggressively in the fourth, looking to land one of his punishing right hands, but he couldn't catch the moving Russo and went on to drop a 7-1 final decision.
"It was a good fight, but I think it was sloppy. A lot of the points that he scored, I didn't agree with because the only punches I felt were on the back of my neck," Wilder said. "The whole thing was to get in there and have fun and I did. There's nothing that I could say I would have done differently because I wouldn't have done anything different. He came out on top today and I congratulate him and hope he will go all the way."
Despite the loss, Wilder made his mark on the Olympics and the sport, going from a novice boxer to an Olympic bronze medalist in less than three years. He keeps his inspiration, three-year-old daughter, Naieya close to his heart. Her name is tattooed on the center of his heart and she remains in his thoughts despite their distance. "It's been hard, I sacrificed a lot and I say sacrifice because I have a three-year-old daughter diagnosed with Spina Bifida and being away from her for so long was hard," Wilder said. "Being away from her is something I never thought I would have to do but it worked out for the best. Once I build my life up, I have the opportunity to better her future as well."
Wilder won the lone medal for the United States team, completing competition for the squad in Beijing.
Deontay Wilder Quotes
"It's been good for me, I got to know 11 boxers, different coaches. I can't say it enough, I'm blessed to be surrounded by so many great people throughout my life. It's been an honor to represent the United States and to box for them."
"It's a good feeling, but it's been a long year. I've been training very hard and sacrificed a lot of things to be here. I trained with 11 guys and got to know 11 guys and even though I got the bronze, I'm happy, but I think if I had those 11 guys standing with me, I'd be even happier. To be the only one, is alright. I'm the type of person that doesn't like to shine in the light alone. I like to have someone else beside me too. They worked hard as well as I have, to be the only one is alright. That's life and that's how it is. Just to have the experience I have and to get to this point, I'm not going home empty handed. To come out with a bronze is unheard of. To have a guy in his third year boxing and to enter the Olympics and then win a medal fighting all these guys who have double figures in years of experience over me, is awesome. I think it's an awesome accomplishment for me and I feel great."
"The experience here has been great, everytime I come to China, we have fun. I've done a little bit more shopping and seen another country. The village was fantastic, I was amazed at all the things they've built. I even got to meet people from different countries so everything was great here, it really was."