Deontay Wilder apologises for punching mascot on television show

Deontay Wilder has issued an apology to the man inside the mascot costume he punched while appearing on an ESPN show.

World heavyweight champion Wilder was encouraged to demonstrate his punching power by striking the mascot on ESPN Nacion.

The blow knocked the mascot to the ground. Despite initial reports, the man inside the costume was not injured by the punch.

"I sincerely apologize to the brave man that was injured [if this is true]," Wilder wrote on Instagram. "I have the up most high respect for him, his participation, willingness and courage.

"If this is true @nacionespn I personally would like to invite him to my Dec.1 fight."

Wilder also hit back at reports that said he didn't realise there was a man inside the mascot costume, calling it "Click Baiting".

The WBO champion, who is unbeaten in 40 bouts, fights former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in Los Angeles on Dec. 1.