THEY say time is the greatest healer but it seems as though nobody told Deontay Wilder. Now 10 months on from his unforgettable draw with Tyson Fury, the frustration of leaving the Los Angeles Staples Center without another victory on his record is still as palpable as ever for the WBC heavyweight champion.
“The world knows it was slow,” Wilder tells Boxing News of Jack Reiss’ 12th-round count, which kept Fury in the fight after a hellacious knockdown had left him temporarily unconscious. “The commentary team knew the situation but they were gifting Fury because of his mental illness case and everything, people were feeling sorry for the guy. Just look at how the commentary were scoring the fight. But I know I never get any praise, ever.
“I wasn’t expecting anything different in this fight but we all know that was a slow-ass count. Everyone knows that.”
The Showtime commentary team, as it happens, draws almost as much ire as Reiss from the Tuscaloosan. “One guy on the commentary team stated that wherever he goes people say that Fury won the fight but that’s a damned lie because when I leave the country it’s obvious people know I won,” Wilder continues, his voice by now approaching something like a bark.
“Every time I go out the country people say ‘you knocked him out, they gifted Fury, it was a slow count’. Everywhere I go, people tell me that.
“One guy, that Paulie [Malignaggi] guy on Showtime, said when he leaves the country that people say ‘Fury won’. Well no, motherf*****, when I go out the country they say ‘Fury got his ass knocked out’. I don’t know what country you been to.”
It is then put to Wilder that Fury believes, having got up from the knockdown in time to beat the referee’s count, he had done enough to win on the cards. Indeed, the very next morning at a downtown LA hotel, Fury had described the result as one of the biggest robberies in boxing history.
“Look, next time, I’m going to beat him,” Wilder adds by way of a full stop. “I’m going to knock him out again like I did the first time but this time we won’t have a referee who wants to count slow because he’s caught up in the emotional moment of the situation. But it will be a great fight and I can’t wait.”
February 22 is the date when the pair are pencilled in to collide again but the serious cut sustained by Fury in his bloody battle with Otto Wallin last month, which required 47 stitches to close, may push the fight later into 2020. Meanwhile Fury is filling some of his time in the WWE, a move his promoter Frank Warren described as ‘risky’ given the nature of his wound.
“I think it’s hilarious,” Wilder said. “I liked how the other wrestler told him he was going to be left on his back looking up at the lights just like Deontay Wilder did him. It’s exciting times in the heavyweight division and you can tell the WWE understand what’s going on.”
For now, however, Wilder has a very different rematch to take care of with a second encounter with Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz confirmed for November 23 at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. Wilder had to come through the biggest crisis of his career in the seventh round of their initial encounter in March of last year but then produced a trademark knockout in the 10th to retain his world title.
“It was a great fight the first time,” Wilder says. “People like to see dramatic fights, fights that leave you on the edge of your seat.
“That was the reason I wanted to go back to it, because of the fight it was the first time and the success he had in the seventh round which some people made a fuss about, even on the commentary on Showtime.”
“I want to bless him again, because of his daughter,” Wilder explained about Ortiz, whose daughter battles serious skin condition, Epidermolysis Bullosa. “I’ve got a bond with him because my daughter was born with special needs and so was his. I know how hard it is to be a fighter, be in this sport, especially being in Ortiz’s situation where he doesn’t make as much money as I do. Because of that I want to bless him. Especially with this Fox pay-per-view, I wanted to make sure I did it alongside him because of the last fight. I’m sure the pay-per-view will do well so he will be able to make a very large amount of money. With that he can support his family because this may be his last opportunity to fight.”
‘People like to see dramatic fights, fights that leave you on the edge of your seat’
Despite Wilder’s ultimately explosive finish, much of the narrative surrounding the need for a rematch has centred on the trouble the 40-year-old had given Wilder earlier in the fight. Just don’t suggest that the 41-0-1 puncher was ever ‘hurt’. “I have to correct you on something,” he says. “I was never hurt. Not hurt. He only buzzed me one time. I think people get confused between being hurt and being buzzed.
“Ortiz highly buzzed me in the seventh round, he did that for sure, my ears were definitely ringing. Biiinnnngggg! But I was well in tune with myself, I was well-aware of where I was and what he had done.
“I understood my position in the fight and also understood how the referee was seeing the situation and he’s the one who is very important in that split second because he has the power to decide whether this s*** goes on or not.
“I was able to coach myself through that moment in time, tell myself: ‘it’s nothing, you good’ and then deal with his punches. I did a lot of things that night when he buzzed me that I didn’t get any credit for. Especially from the commentary, they never gave me any credit for what I was doing right it was always about what I was doing wrong.”
It is interesting that Wilder’s quite obvious contempt for the Showtime commentary during his fights with both Fury and Ortiz comes after news that his next outing will not be shown on the network at all.
Instead, eyebrows were raised when it was announced that Wilder-Ortiz II would be aired on Fox pay-per-view, bringing an end to the “Bronze’s Bomber’s” long and lucrative campaign on Showtime.
The network’s president of sports and entertainment programming, Stephen Espinoza, has since explained that the deal ‘did not make sense’ for them and that they were not prepared to ‘take disproportionate risks in order to secure it’.
“The business model we had for myself, it just didn’t fit in Showtime’s plans,” Wilder explains. “It’s as simple as that. When you’re doing business, we all know that certain business plans don’t work for certain people. What we had going, the price we had in our mind, it wasn’t in Showtime’s budget but it was in Fox’s budget. There’s no ill will towards Showtime at all, we have a great understanding. I think a lot of people on the outside looking in are blowing it out of proportion because they’re so used to seeing me on Showtime. So when I switch up they feel that something must have gone wrong. But I don’t know why, as humans, the first time we see things we want to think negative first before seeing the positive. It’s sad.
“But, trust me, me and the head people at Showtime are seeing everything being said and we’re laughing.”
There was a time when any and all interviews with Wilder would be dominated by questions about Anthony Joshua but Fury’s return to the sport after nearly three years out of the ring and AJ’s stunning defeat to Andy Ruiz Jnr in June has changed all that.
Of course, Joshua will get his chance to regain the WBO, WBA and IBF belts from Ruiz in Saudi Arabia three weeks before Christmas and a victory in Diriyah will reignite the public’s desire for a transatlantic battle with Wilder. But the 33-year-old, who was in scintilating form when he knocked out Dominic Breazeale in a little over two minutes in May, does not expect the former golden boy of the division to reclaim those titles at all.
“I feel like Ruiz will win the rematch,” he says. “I liked his performance in the first fight and I feel he will improve even more in the second one. He will have built a lot of confidence from the way that he beat Anthony.
“People need to understand that you can bounce back but there is also a certain way that you get beat that can knock your confidence down so low. Over and over again you’re going to have to see that.
“If you don’t have the right mindset or the right people around you then you’ll go right back in there and do the same damn thing. You’ll make the same mistakes as last time, nothing will be corrected.
“You can bring 1,000 experts in if you want to, you can bring 1,000 scientists of the sport but at the end of the day it’s only up to that person who has to perform. They have to be able to act on the instructions that are given to correct the wrongs into rights.”
There have been some suggestions that Joshua’s career is on the line on December 7 as opposed to just the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles. Lennox Lewis, for instance, has said that the Brit will be ‘finished’ by another defeat. Wilder, meanwhile, is not so sure a second consecutive loss would mean the end. He said: “There would be a way back in for Joshua if he loses, of course, it’s never over until it’s over. It’s going to be up to Anthony, it won’t be over when he loses if he doesn’t want it to be. Look at all these people who are still fighting now. Look at my guy Dereck Chisora, how many losses has he had?
‘If you don’t have the right mindset or the right people around you then you’ll go right back in there and do the same damn thing’
“He’s still relevant today. Still fighting in major fights. We write our own story and our own history in what we do in the sport, our own actions, all the rest is opinion. But when you’re a fighting man and you’ve got a fighting heart, who is anyone else to say that when you get knocked down you can’t get back up? That will be up to him.”
“I think he will lose this fight so the world will soon see what he does after that. If he wins, kudos to him. But really, Joshua is not even in my thoughts right now. He used to be.
“My mindset is not on Fury either but I know exactly what to do in that fight, the second time around, in February.
“Now it’s about fighting Ortiz and I’m looking forward to fighting him because I’m going to make a statement like I did in the Dominic Breazeale fight. From there I will make a statement against Fury and then I’ll be looking to unify the division against Andy Ruiz Jnr.”