By: Sean Crose
It was an instant those who witnessed first hand won’t soon forget. There, in a California boxing ring, defending WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder was defeated by challenger Tyson Fury at the behest of Wilder’s corner, who threw in the towel. Actually, it was a single member of Wilder’s corner, one of two trainers, who threw in the towel. Mark Breland had been in and around the ring long enough to know his man was taking a thrashing. He had seen enough. Soon after the fight it became clear that Wilder and co-trainer Jay Deas were unhappy with Breland’s decision. Now it’s being reported that Wilder has released Breland from his team.
Hence, it will be Deas and Deas alone who will prepare Wilder for his next scheduled go round with Fury. It will be the third fight between the two heavyweights and the first in which Wilder doesn’t have Breland in his corner. In fact, it will be the first fight in Wilder’s entire professional career where Breland will not be nearby to offer advice in between rounds. Although no date has been set, it’s widely guessed that the third Wilder-Fury match will go down within the next several months, either late 2020 or early 2021.
Breland is a trainer of note in part because of his illustrious history. A gold medal winner in the 1984 Olympics, the Brooklyn native moved on to become a world champion on several occasions. Although far smaller than Wilder, Breland was a long, lanky fighter for a welterweight. What’s more, he had thunderous power. In other words, he appeared to be the perfect match for the tall, lean heavyweight from Alabama. And indeed, Breland, along with Deas, had led the unorthodox Wilder to a career of forty two wins and no losses with one draw when Wilder met Fury for the second time last February.
Unlike the first meeting of the two fighters in late 2018, however, Wilder was completely dominated this time around. Whereas the first bout ended in a controversial draw, Wilder was clearly getting beaten up in the rematch. Many observers have voiced support for Breland throwing in the towel in the seventh in order to save his battered protégé. Wilder, however, clearly sees things differently than his former mentor. Indeed, both men are different in many ways. Wilder is loud and boisterous, Breland unassuming and soft spoken. In the end, each former champion’s distinct view of the sport may have proven to be incompatible.