By: Sean Crose
Some of us of a certain age remember Mark Breland the fighter. Emerging from the golden 1984 US Olympic team, the Brooklyn native went on to be the WBA welterweight champion of the world. The man’s life had all the trappings of a rising star. He was respected in the business, appeared in a Pointer Sisters’ video and even found himself on the hit TV show Miami Vice. Then came Marlon Starling. The veteran met the rising star in South Carolina, in a bout that was aired live on network television.
Breland performed well, but not well enough. Starling eventually found his way through the taller man’s jab, and dropped Breland in the eleventh. Breland got up, but the referee halted the fight. It was a tough blow for a rising star, but Breland got back in the saddle, returned less than five months later, then fought again just two months after that. A mere seven months after losing his title, Breland was back in the ring with Starling, the man who had stopped him. That fight ended in a draw, but Breland would eventually be able to reclaim his title by besting Seung Soon Lee, the following year.
The lesson? Mark Breland knew how to take a loss. Perhaps that’s why, as the years went on, people were happy to learn Breland had become a successful trainer. How successful? Successful enough to be in the corner of the WBC heavyweight champion of the world, Deontay Wilder. Sure, Breland’s role was that of co-trainer, but there was little doubt he was a significant influence on a fighter who happened to be a tall, lanky competitor – just as he once was. The fact that Breland had gone from championship boxer to championship trainer made it hard to argue he didn’t represent his sport quite well.
That’s why it’s so off putting these past few days to see Wilder, Breland’s own fighter, fire off accusations of disloyalty and, worse yet, water tampering. For, after losing his title in his February rematch with Tyson Fury, Wilder took to making excuses. And he’s making them still. Whether he’s blaming his loss to the large sized outfit he stepped into the ring with that night, or blaming Fury for fighting with weighted gloves, it’s been clear Wilder isn’t willing to simply say he was bested by a competitor fairly.
What’s most offensive to this writer, however, is the way Wilder has attacked Breland, the man who helped him reach the pinnacle of ring success. First, Wilder accused Breland of disloyalty for committing the egregious crime of saving him from a horrible beating…for it was Breland who stopped the Fury rematch by tossing in the towel. But Wilder has since taken things further – stating he feels Breland may have been involved with tampering his water for the second Fury fight.
Unless Wilder has credible evidence to back his attacks against Breland, and everyone else he’s been lashing out at, the man is guilty of a terrible smear campaign. If credible evidence does, in fact, exist, Wilder needs to let the world know just what that evidence is. Because vocalizing personal suspicions just doesn’t cut it.
Bottom Line: People don’t deserve this kind of treatment – especially not Mark Breland.