Deontay Wilder puts his WBC heavyweight crown on the line against Dominic Breazeale on Saturday, unfazed by a storm of criticism following his vows to cause a death in the ring.

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WBC Heavyweight boxing champion Deontay Wilder (AL BELLO / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

Even by boxing’s lurid standards, where threats of violence are a stock-in-trade, Wilder’s gruesome pre-fight comments have been condemned by many in the sport as beyond the pale.

“His life is on the line for this fight and I do mean his life,” Wilder said this week as he prepares for Saturday’s bout at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. “I am still trying to get me a body on my record.

“Dominic Breazeale asked for this. This is the only sport where you can kill a man and get paid for it at the same time. It’s legal. So why not use my right to do so…if he dies, he dies.”

As ever, there is more than a suspicion of pantomime in Wilder’s remarks, born out of a hucksterish instinct to drum up interest in a fight that, tellingly, has not been deemed worthy of pay-per-view status in the United States.

There is, however, undeniable bad blood between Wilder (40-0-1, 39 knockouts) and Breazeale (20-1, 18 knockouts), which can be traced back to a confrontation between the two fighters in early 2017.

After featuring on the the same card in Birmingham, Alabama, Wilder claims that Breazeale made threatening remarks to his brother at a hotel in the city later that night. A furious Wilder tracked down Breazeale, leading to a brawl involving the fighters’ entourages.

“I just put my hand in Breazeale’s face and I told him, ‘Never come to my city threatening my family ever. Don’t ever do that,” said Wilder, who has promised to inflict fatal damage on Breazeale more than once this week.

“If it happens, I’m not going to apologise,” he told reporters. “He’s been asking for this all along.” (Agence France-Presse)

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