Deontay Wilder had already suffered two knockdowns earlier and was trapped in a corner as Tyson Fury was unleashing a brutal beating during the seventh round in their rematch in February.
The one-sided fight caused Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) co-trainer Mark Breland to throw in the towel and stop the punishment his fighter was taking from Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs), much to the dismay of Wilder and co-trainer Jay Deas.
Fury co-trainer, Andy Lee (35-3-1 24 KOs), a former middleweight titleholder who retired in 2017, was on the opposite side of the ring when his fighter captured the WBC heavyweight crown.
Fury had landed a total of 82 punches on Wilder, while the American countered with 34.
Lee sided with Breland, a 1984 U.S. Olympics gold medal winner and two-time world champion, for throwing in the towel and having his fighter see another day.
“I think [Wilder’s corner] did the right thing [to throw in the towel],” Lee told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “I think Mark Breland did an excellent job. He might have saved Deontay’s career because you can’t take a sustained beating like that from a man of Tyson Fury’s size. He was punching with authority.”
After the fight Wilder said he would be willing to die in the ring rather than have a fight prematurely stopped. He also complained that his energy was zapped due to the heavy attire he wore en route to the ring.
“Some part of [the complaints of Wilder] is saving face. No fighter wants it to be stopped, regardless of the way,” said Lee. “That’s the fighter’s spirit but I think now he probably understands having watched it again. I think it was the right call. I’m not sure what I would have done in the same position. I probably would have done the same thing.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the LA Times, Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com.