Deontay Wilder’s mom says it’s time to celebrate boxer’s career as it likely comes to end

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Deontay Wilder’s mother said she sent her son a message Saturday after he suffered a brutal, fifth-round knockout against Zhilei Zhang.

“I texted him and said, ‘Son, we’re having a party for you,'” Deborah Wilder told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday. “You gave us the best boxing in USA when boxing was dead. You’ve gotten older. You’ve ran your course in your journey.

“It’s time to celebrate.”

Wilder, the former WBC heavyweight champion, did not address the media in Saudi Arabia after suffering his fourth defeat in his past five fights and Deborah Wilder said she had not spoken to him since the fight. But leading up to the heavyweight bout, the 38-year-old boxer indicated he might retire if he lost the fight.

A right hand from Zhang, the 6-foot-6, 283-pound boxer from China, ended the bout at 1:51 of the fifth round and likely ended Wilder’s sterling career. He won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics and in 2015 he became the first American heavyweight champion since 2007.

He held the belt until 2020.

Now Wilder’s record stands at 43-4-1, with 42 knockouts – many of them highlight-reel quality.

“He brought back boxing to the USA, and we enjoyed all those knockouts,” Deborah Wilder said. “I taped them and I’m going to look back at them.

“We gonna to laugh, we gonna to cry. But we gonna be happy.”

In addition to having carved out his legacy as a boxer, Deontay Wilder is a husband and the father of eight children. He grew up poor in Tuscaloosa, Ala., but now he’s a wealthy man, according to his mother.

“So enjoy your life now,” Deborah Wilder said. “Teach other young men how to become a champion.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Deontay Wilder’s mom sends message after KO loss to Zhilei Zhang

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