Deontay Wilder: “I’m Coming Back Stronger Than Ever”
By: Hans Themistode
Everything seemed off on February 22nd for Deontay Wilder. The former WBC Heavyweight champion was brutally knocked out in the seventh round against Tyson Fury at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The loss wasn’t an easy pill for Wilder to swallow as he lashed out at corner man Mark Breland for stopping the fight. The two have since worked things out and appear ready to address where he went wrong during the fight.
The loss for Wilder wasn’t as simple as Fury being the better fighter. It actually had everything to do with his pre fight costume. Since black history month takes place for the entire month of February, Wilder wanted to play his part by wearing an all black costume decked out in black diamonds and red eyes that glowed.
Wilder got plenty of cool points, but his performance in the ring suffered.
“My uniform was way too heavy for me,” said Wilder during an interview following the loss. “I didn’t have no legs from the beginning of the fight. In the third round, my legs were just shot all the way through. But I’m a warrior and people know that I’m a warrior. It could easily be told that I didn’t have legs or anything. A lot of people were telling me, ‘It looked like something was wrong with you.’ Something was, but when you’re in the ring, you have to bluff a lot of things. I tried my best to do so. I knew I didn’t have the legs because of my uniform.”
The ridicule and vitriol came nonstop in the direction of Wilder. Now, roughly two months later, Wilder isn’t pointing the finger at his costume. Instead, he grabbed the closest mirror he could find and took a hard look at himself.
“The thing about it that it’s easy to understand, you know, what type of person Deontay Wilder was in that moment in time, you know,” Wilder said. “Even when I took off my mask, and the things that I was doing, you know, I’ve been in this sport for a very long time, people have seen me fight, you know, all over the world for a very long time. So, people automatically knows, you know, how I am and, you know, how I should look. And people that know boxing know that wasn’t Deontay Wilder that night. I was a zombie that night.”
“It was something, like I said, I can’t talk about a lot of things, but it wasn’t Deontay Wilder [that] night. You can tell from the mask, my reaction to certain things that I was doing in the ring. You know, you can look from the first fight, into the second fight, and you can tell it was two different people, you know, that night. From a guy that from the first start of the bell was in retreat mode. The first fight, when the first [bell sounded], I was on the hunt. You know, you don’t go backwards. You go forward. And that night I wasn’t myself. I felt like a zombie in there.”
Whether he was a zombie or not, Fury came out and did exactly what he said he would. He came forward, pushed Wilder back and knocked him out. The world may have been shocked but not Wilder.
“No, I wasn’t surprised,” Wilder said regarding Fury’s approach to their rematch. “It’s hard to explain. [From] the first sound of the bell, it’s like I was more in retreat mode. It’s like I wasn’t even there for real. I don’t know how to say it without – I wasn’t there. That’s all I can tell you, I wasn’t there. From the first start, I wasn’t there. You know, my whole body, everything, you know, but it’s gonna be all right.”
“Everything’s gonna be all right, trust me, you know. And I’m just looking forward to coming back in there and doing what I gotta do. I don’t wanna say too much. I don’t wanna feel like I’m making any excuses or anything like that. I just want the people to know that I’m happy, I’m in full health and I’m coming back stronger than ever.”