IT should be no surprise that the first thing Deontay Wilder did when he got out of hospital was declare his intention to again fight the man who put him there. The clause in the contract, that stipulated the loser of the Tyson Fury-Wilder sequel had 30 days to sign for fight three, is something that almost every boxer would trigger in the immediate aftermath of a defeat, however humbling that loss might be.
The anguish and humiliation boxers feel after losing, particularly boxers like Wilder whose fearsome reputation was stripped away so completely, must be truly unbearable. Wilder, a brave and proud man, will simply not be able to rest nor admit the truth of what the world witnessed on Saturday night: That Tyson Fury was the significantly superior fighter in their Las Vegas rematch.
The excuses quickly came from his corner, namely lead coach Jay Deas, and later by the fighter himself. The main problem was the lavish black armoury Wilder wore to the ring (some kind of high-tech panther suit that had red flashing eyes and no doubt cost a fortune). It was so heavy, they said, it sapped him of the energy required to win once he got there. As excuses go, it’s right up there with David Haye’s bruised toe.
The truth of the matter might well be that the suit was too heavy. It certainly looked it and, if you think about it, lugging it from the dressing room to the ring is far from ideal. But Wilder should blame no one but himself if that was the case – it seems unlikely that the thick black costume was a surprise that was forced upon him before the biggest fight of his life.
It appeared, as we saw him on the big screen bare-chested and waiting to enter the arena, that he left it until the last possible moment to dress up thus suggesting he was well aware of its mass.
At worst, it was an excuse designed to take credit away from the fighter who beat him. At best, it was appalling planning.
The actions of Deas in the immediate aftermath were also regrettable. Before he blamed Wilder’s outfit, he brazenly pointed the finger at his assistant, Mark Breland, for having the audacity to wave the towel of surrender when it was clear Wilder was taking the kind of hammering that is almost impossible to come back from. If reports are true that Breland’s services have since been dispensed, both Wilder and Deas should make sure they take a long hard look in the mirror before embarking on a third bout with Fury. For victory to be gained in fight three, which at this juncture seems the longest of long shots, they must accept and address what truly went wrong. Even if the costume was partly to blame, then Breland’s actions should only be championed. If he hadn’t signalled enough was enough, Wilder may now not be in a position to fight another day.
But fight another day he will. That’s what boxers do. We shouldn’t be too hard on him for trying to justify his performance in the days that followed his only loss. Boxers need to believe that something else was at play, that it wasn’t merely a case of losing to a better fighter. Wilder is going through the motions of a boxer trying to find his way back.
Anthony Joshua had do that after losing to Andy Ruiz Jnr. He did so differently, though, choosing to keep any excuses, however valid, completely to himself. Tyson Fury also accepted the draw with Wilder in good grace, despite having reason to complain.
Both went on to triumph magnificently in returns.