WITH a third fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder all but confirmed, the latter has made himself more available to the media after several months of radio silence. “The Bronze Bomber” gave his first interview after the third Fury fight seemed locked in to 78SPORTSTV, and said: “My mentality is – you’ve been contemplating about hurting a person so bad, to the point you wanna disfigure him so his mother wouldn’t even know who he was. You wanna decapitate him in every way, like premeditated stuff.”
Wilder is no stranger to saying stupid things to the media – he infamously once said he’d like “a body” on his record, meaning he’d like to kill somebody in the ring – but even after his crushing loss to Fury and some time away from the limelight, he doesn’t appear to have mellowed.
That, really, could mean one of two things. First, it could convey that he still has the fighting spirit necessary to potentially reclaim his world title and gain revenge over Tyson. Or, it means Wilder is unable to learn from his past failures and so is doomed to repeat them. In the same interview, Wilder also labelled Fury’s attempts to make a fight with Anthony Joshua a “coward’s move” and accused the Brit of trying to avoid him. It’s almost as if Wilder has never watched his second fight with Fury, which was largely one-way traffic. Things took a real turn when Wilder’s new trainer (and former victim) Malik Scott chimed in with: “Muhammad Ali is one of my greatest fighters of all time. He was magical in the ring, but it was the things he beat outside the ring that truly got my attention. Deontay Wilder is the closest thing to that in this time.”
There isn’t enough space in this column to properly explain why that isn’t true, but let’s instead focus on this: Wilder hasn’t beaten his addiction to yes men. When Wilder fired Mark Breland after the second Fury fight, it seemed on track with his stubbornness. Then he split with head trainer Jay Deas, who many had criticised for his unwillingness to call Wilder out on mistakes, suggesting that perhaps he saw the need for change.
Well, Scott now seems to have taken over that role of massaging Wilder’s ego rather than addressing his flaws. In fairness, we don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors in their training – Scott could well be helping Wilder to plot a masterclass revenge mission – but going by their public comments it seems little has changed.
The most worrying comments from Wilder came during an Instagram Live (not strictly YouTube, but close enough) with Premier Boxing Champions, where he doubled down on all of his previous accusations against Fury. He maintained that Fury was using illegal gloves, that he himself had been spiked with some sort of “juju” and that Fury’s team had even “gotten” to his trainer, Breland, who he once again called “disloyal.”
Again, this highlights a determination to stick to his guns that could almost be commended, if it weren’t for the overwhelming stench of delusion. If Wilder is entering the third fight under the impression that Fury cheated in the second meeting, and so is still not acknowledging the challenge ahead of him, why should we expect a different outcome?
Even from a marketing perspective, this doesn’t work. The trilogy fight is easier to sell if Wilder had accepted responsibility for his defeat and was speaking about the work he is doing to right those wrongs. Instead, he’s rolling out the same conspiracy theories fans have heard countless times now.
Errol Spence is not Bob Arum’s biggest fan, based on his latest interview with Barbershop Conversations. Reflecting on his upcoming fight with Manny Pacquiao, the welterweight champion claimed it was his advisor, Al Haymon, who orchestrated the deal. He cited the fact that Terence Crawford, a Top Rank fighter, not getting the Pacquiao fight as evidence of Arum’s failings as a promoter.
He also criticised the way Arum speaks about Crawford: “I think Bob treats him like any owner does an athlete, basically treats him like he’s property or something like that. I feel like he don’t [sic] really respect Terence,” he said.
In Arum’s defence, he has frequently spoken about the struggle to get big fights for Crawford, not through a lack of trying.
Spence also said he doubts a Crawford fight will happen and that, instead, he himself will move up to 154lbs once he’s done at welterweight. At this point, that seems the likeliest scenario; Spence-Crawford is becoming nothing more than a pipe dream for boxing fans.
FIGHTZONE, a new streaming service in the UK, continued their regular schedule of weekly events with two shows on consecutive nights. By any standards the setup was impressive, and even more so for such a new outfit. Names like Glenn McCrory, Johnny Nelson, Dave Allen and Anthony Crolla all appeared on the two broadcasts, supplying commentary and punditry.
The shows were staged outside, much like Matchroom’s Fight Camp, and had an air of legitimate quality about them. For now, the focus of the channel is on smaller shows including lesser-known fighters, but the platform they’re providing is a great one. Covid-19 wreaked havoc on small hall promoters and those without television deals, so to have a new outlet like this one launch so successfully is hugely encouraging for the sport in the UK.
CNN ran a fascinating feature on the impact of boxing on women in Gaza. Speaking before the recent escalation in violence between Palestinian and Israeli forces, 22-year-old Aburahma, the focal point of the piece, discusses how new boxing gyms have helped Arab women like her change the way they view themselves, but also how their society sees them.
The story of how those gyms came into being, and how women flocked to them, is a remarkable one and highlights how powerful this sport can be.