Deontay Wilder's heinous accusations point to larger issue with former champion

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·7-min read

Deontay Wilder has long been a role model for other boxers. He started the sport late in life, and through sheer effort and determination, made himself a champion. He was an example to others not only because of his fierce work ethic, but because he tried to do things the right way. He sought out the best fighters at a time when many of his peers were doing the opposite.

His desire to help end racism in this country is also admirable. He’s been outspoken about what he sees as institutional racism and his words not only carried weight, they made sense.

But twice now in the past eight months, Wilder has spoken publicly and made little sense.

I wanted to believe him when I became the first reporter to speak to him on Feb. 24 after his surprisingly one-sided defeat to Tyson Fury in their rematch for the heavyweight championship. His assistant trainer, Mark Breland, threw in the towel to stop the fight as the 6-foot-9, 270-pound Fury was unleashing blows to Wilder’s head in the corner.

I wanted to hear where Wilder felt he went wrong. I wanted to know if he were surprised by Fury’s strategy of fighting aggressively and attacking him.

Instead of crediting Fury, Wilder blamed not himself, but the “way too heavy” outfit he wore to the ring. He said it ruined his legs to such a degree that they were useless to him in the fight.

It was bizarre and a one-of-a-kind reason to explain away a loss. I took it more as frustration than anything else.

But on Saturday, Wilder took to social media and posted another video, and now, his comments have to be viewed in an entirely different light.

It was a simply bizarre and almost unhinged two-minute rant in which he made little sense. In the comments below the video he posted on Instagram, he ripped Fury for not coming to terms on a rematch for a third fight.

That’s fair enough, though it seemed as if Fury was willing to fight him and plans were being made for a Dec. 19 bout at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas before television schedules rendered that all but impossible.

But in the video, he accused Fury of doctoring his gloves and took shots at Breland and referee Kenny Bayless. If he thought this video, which was released on Halloween and was shot in a very dimly lit place that gave it a bizarre look, would help him, he badly miscalculated. It looked more like something that would be released on April Fools’ Day, where at the end, he’d say it was all a joke and wish everyone a good day.

He apparently didn’t mean this as a joke, though.

He called Breland a disloyal trainer, though nearly every boxing professional who saw the fight agreed with his decision to throw in the towel. Breland, a veteran of the sport who was a professional world champion and an Olympic gold medalist, saw what literally dozens of neutral fighters, trainers, managers, reporters and promoters saw: That on Feb. 22, 2020, Fury was vastly better than Wilder and that Wilder was in danger of being seriously injured.

He has the right to have whomever he wants to train him, but to suggest Breland was disloyal for trying to save his life is flat wrong. I have sat ringside for seven bouts in which a fighter died, and in most if not all of those cases, the fighters who passed took fewer blows over a shorter period of time than Wilder took that night from Fury.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 22: Referee Kenny Bayless sends Deontay Wilder to his corner during the Heavyweight bout for Wilder's WBC and Fury's lineal heavyweight title against Tyson Fury on February 22, 2020 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Referee Kenny Bayless sends Deontay Wilder to his corner during his heavyweight bout against Tyson Fury on Feb. 22, 2020, at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Wilder: ‘My water was tampered with, bro’

In addition to his post, Wilder did an interview Saturday with the YouTube channel 78SPORTSTV. The interviewer prefaced questions by saying “most of us know” that something was going on with Fury’s gloves. Then, the interviewer essentially accused reporters without mentioning their names by saying they turned the story about the costume into something it was not.

Let me state unequivocally and clearly: I was beyond stunned to hear Wilder discuss the costume. He brought it up, not me. I asked him about it and he went on repeatedly about it. Tim Smith, the vice president of Haymon Boxing, as well as other reporters who interviewed Wilder later, would verify that nobody took anything out of context. Wilder was quoted accurately and in context.

But in the conversation with 78SPORTSTV, the interviewer brings up the notion that someone put something in the water that Wilder had been given.

Wilder took that and ran with it.

“My water was tampered with, bro,” Wilder said. “I know what it’s like to have some heavy workout and how you feel after. You know what I’m saying? S---, I can have sex and still go play ball and dunk and do what I got to do. But this feeling right here, it was a different feeling. It’s like I had no control of my body. My legs was weak and stuff like that. Although my body was weak, my mind was very strong.

“When do you ever see me go down on a body shot? He didn’t even hit me; he pushed me. When did you ever see me falling back like that? When did you ever see me not being the aggressor?”

That is an extraordinarily heavy and serious allegation Wilder levied. It goes beyond sports and would be a crime. He provided no evidence beyond that he didn’t look good in the fight. But Fury, who boxed smartly in the first fight, came forward and was aggressive and that appeared to throw Wilder off. Fury’s change in tactics is certainly an answer to the questions Wilder posed.

Zero evidence Fury’s gloves were loaded

As for Fury’s gloves, it’s nonsense that they were tampered with. Neither Fury nor anyone working on his behalf had access to the gloves. On Friday after the weigh-in, fighters go to pick their gloves. They pick the set they’ll wear and a back-up set. The gloves are given to the athletic commission, which keeps them until they’re put on in the locker room before the fight.

An inspector for the commission signs the tape around the wrist to verify he witnessed the gloves being put on and that there had been no tampering. This was instituted as a result of the late Panama Lewis tampering with Luis Resto’s gloves before a June 16, 1983, fight in New York against Billy Collins.

Lewis removed an ounce of padding from each glove and Resto unexpectedly gave Collins a brutal beating. Lewis was banned for life and both Lewis and Resto were found guilty of assault, criminal possession of a weapon (the doctored gloves) and conspiracy.

When Wilder says Fury’s gloves were tampered with, he’s accusing someone from the Nevada Athletic Commission.

He made that charge, and the allegation that his water was tampered with, with zero evidence. That’s a heinous thing to do, accusing people of crimes, especially someone like Breland, who had been close with Wilder.

Something isn’t right, and hasn’t been right, with Deontay Wilder since the second Fury fight.

I’m not sure what it is, though I have an idea. It’s a good bet, however, that whatever happened in the ring had nothing to do with either the gloves or the water.

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