By: Sean Crose
Many people expected Deontay Wilder to win when he stepped into the ring to face arch rival Tyson Fury for the WBC and lineal heavyweight titles this past weekend in Las Vegas. There were those who expected Fury to win, as well, as the first match between the two men had ended in a draw over a year earlier. No one, however, expected Fury to beat up Wilder the way the Englishman did at the MGM Grand on Saturday night. For Wilder looked a mess. What’s more, the hard hitting Alabaman looked like he might be in serious physical trouble as the bout wore on. Wilder was bleeding from the ear, and his face was developing that puffy look that often comes before a true medical crisis.
Perhaps fortunately for Wilder, co-trainer Mark Breland indicated that the fight should be stopped in the seventh round. Veteran referee Kenny Bayless took the cue and ended the affair, saving Wilder further damage. Wilder, true warrior that he is, was upset that he wasn’t able to go down swinging. That’s understandable, as many – if not most – professional fighters would react in just such a way in a similar situation. Unfortunately for Breland, criticism has come from an unlikely corner.
Wilder’s other co-trainer, Jay Deas, surprised many people after Saturday’s bout with the following words: “Mark Breland threw in the towel,” he said. “I didn’t think he should have.” Some are openly wondering why. “Deontay is a go out on his shield kind of guy,” Deas explained. That may well be true, but Breland clearly felt it is sometimes a trainer’s job to save a fighter from himself. In a world where fighters occasionally die from their injuries, Breland decided to err on the side of safety. Deas, however, indicated that he was not informed during the moment of truth.
“Mark said something about throwing the towel in,” Deas claimed, “and I said don’t do that. The fight went a little longer and I saw the towel go in.” It’s worth noting that Breland knows what it’s like to suffer a professional level beating in the ring. After seemingly leading on the cards, Breland was brutally knocked out by the vastly underrated Marlon Starling in the fourteenth round of a grueling 1987 throwdown for Breland’s WBA world welterweight title, which the Olympic Gold medalist held at the time.
With that in mind, it’s also worth noting that Deas himself is quite close to Wilder, going so far as to credit Wilder with changing his life for the better. “This man has been the greatest thing that ever happened to me,” Business Insider quotes Deas as saying of Wilder. As of press time, Deas hadn’t spoken to Breland after the fight, though he indicated that they would talk soon enough. Although a third fight between Wilder and Fury may be contractually in line, it’s too soon to tell where Wilder, or his team, will go from here.