Deontay Wilder will be back in the ring Feb. 22 against Tyson Fury, thirteen weeks after demolishing Luis Ortiz to retain his WBC heavyweight title.
The turnaround may be a quick one considering the magnitude of the fight, but neither the Alabaman fighter or his trainer, Jay Deas, are concerned.
Deas has circled Dec. 31 as the date to kick off training camp for Wilder’s rematch against the lineal heavyweight champion of the world, the trainer told BoxingScene.com.
“Come February, I hope they’re ready, because I’m ready,” Wilder said during the post-fight press conference following his fight against Ortiz in Las Vegas. “You know, I’m in great shape. This is gonna be a quick turnaround for me. I haven’t done this since the beginning of my career. And this is only gonna make me better. You know, fighting the type of opposition that I’m fighting, doing it often and getting ready to go back in there in February again. So, I wish those guys good luck.”
Deas said they’ve been lessening Wilder’s workload as the 34-year-old has increased in age.
“One of our biggest problems is getting through a fight and thinking about the next one. Now, we actually have a schedule and it’s wonderful,” said Deas. “We’ve incrementally and slowly reduced the number of workouts and sparring just as a way to keep him fresh. He’s not an old fighter. Heavyweights mature late, typically between the ages of 32 and 36. By doing that, we’re giving ourselves the best change to remain fresh.
“Deontay’s body is functional. It’s not only a good-looking physique, but it works for him and he knows how to do things with his speed.”
Deas said he isn’t concerned for Wilder’s slow starts and close calls of late, twice against Ortiz, and last December against Fury. Each scare was wiped away with Wilder’s devastating right hand, but the Fury fight ended in a controversial draw. Fury outlanded Wilder 84-71, but Wilder countered by scoring two knockdowns.
Deas said after a handful of rounds, it doesn’t matter what the scorecards say, because that’s when Wilder is ready to trade and show off his power.
“Slow starts don’t bother me at all,” said Deas. “Why would you go against guys at full strength? Wear them down, take some steam off of their shots. Then, when you’re trading, you still have a full deck of cards in your hands, and you’re ready to hit the royal flush.
Deas said it takes time for Wilder to play the positioning game, all while getting his opponents tired.
“The narrative is, Deontay can’t box, he only has one big punch. That’s garbage and not true at all. He is getting them in the exact right space, time, angles and distance. All of that has to do with skills, and Deontay has skills,” said Deas.
“You may lose some of those rounds, but you’re inching toward positioning that works for you. Even if you’re down, you’re getting to where you need to get to be successful. It’s not a bad trade-off. It’s not necessarily winning every round. The intricacies allow for us to line it up. It's only a matter of time before we zone in. There is a bigger picture than what people see.”
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 Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports and hosts his own radio show in Los Angeles. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at email@example.com.