By Keith Idec
Deontay Wilder realizes beleaguered boxing fans want to see him fight Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, in that order.
Dominic Breazeale, whom Joshua already has battered and stopped, isn’t on most of their lists of top-five potential opponents for the unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion. The brash, Alabama-based knockout artist’s upcoming title defense versus Breazeale (20-1, 18 KOs) is an unavoidable obstacle, however, because the WBC somehow installed Breazeale as Wilder’s mandatory challenger, ahead of No. 1-rated Dillian Whyte.
Most of those frustrated fans blame the fact that Wilder won’t face Fury again next Saturday night on Fury. The lineal heavyweight champion possessed an unsigned contract for several days to get in the ring with Wilder again May 18 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The gregarious, gigantic Brit instead decided to sign a multi-fight deal with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. and ESPN. The 6-feet-9, 260-pound Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) thus will make a less dangerous return to the ring June 15 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, where he’ll meet Germany’s Tom Schwarz (24-0, 16 KOs).
Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) explained during a conference call Thursday why he understands the former IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champion’s decision.
“I hurt Tyson Fury very badly,” said Wilder, who knocked down Fury twice during their draw December 2 in Los Angeles. “I gave him a concussion. Like I said, this man had memory lost, and that’s not healthy. That’s not healthy for you. And as a man, as a man with a family, hey, if you need a warmup or tune-up to make sure your marbles are back in place, go do that. Take as many warmups as you need. We understand. He said he got three more fights and then he out of here. We all know why he’s gonna be out of here, because sh*t, one of those fights leads up to me. And I’m gonna finish it. I’m gonna finish the job. So, I understand it all. I’m not a guy that can’t understand things. Even in everyday life, if someone’s going through something, my mind is, like I said, so big I can fit a spaceship in it.
“So, when you’re describing something, you’re telling me something, I try to put myself in a virtual reality and put myself in your position. And I try to look at every aspect possible and try to go and understand. So, I understand why he made that decision. I understand it all. And go get healthy, because I want the best Fury when that time comes. Just like I want with all these guys, because I don’t want no excuses. I don’t want nobody saying this and that. I’m the only fighter that can come in with damaged arms and body not feeling well, and still knock you out. Because I am blessed. My grandma said I was anointed by God, and was she so right.”
All that said, Wilder wonders why Fury’s confidence didn’t make him take an immediate rematch anyway. If, as the skillful Fury argues, he won their 12-round fight convincingly, Wilder would’ve expected Fury to jump at an opportunity – and an eight-figure payday – to prove his superiority over Wilder again.
His five-fight deal with Top Rank and ESPN clearly guaranteed Fury more money than an immediate rematch with Wilder. It also complicates matters moving forward because for Fury and Wilder to fight again, probably at some point in 2020, it’ll require a joint pay-per-view venture between Showtime, which will televise Wilder-Breazeale, and ESPN.
If the 33-year-old Wilder or the 30-year-old Fury loses before they agree to fight again, a rematch obviously would be worth less to at least one of them. That’s among the reasons Wilder wanted their second fight to happen right away.
“If I’m a fighter,” Wilder said, “and I’m thinking, ‘Hey, I beat his ass, you know [10 out of 12] rounds,’ my first reaction is I want an immediate rematch because you know the second [fight], ‘If I beat him by that wide of a margin, then sh*t, the rematch ain’t nothing. That’s gonna be simple. That’s gonna be easy.’ So, what we did, I said, ‘No, you didn’t. I whupped your ass. I was the more aggressive [fighter]. I was the one came.
“What was the main highlight of the fight, the whole night?’ I think we can all answer that. It was Fury getting knocked on his ass and getting back up. That was the whole highlight of the whole fight. So, in that sense, I’m like, ‘Hey, I want a rematch.’ As a champion, moving forward, I wanna give you this rematch. I wanna bless you.”
One judge, California’s Alejandro Rochin, scored their fight for Wilder (115-111). Wilder won seven rounds on Rochin’s card and by four points on it because he floored Fury once apiece in the ninth and 12th rounds.
Another judge, Canada’s Robert Tapper, credited Fury for winning eight rounds (114-112). The third judge, England’s Phil Edwards, scored seven rounds for Fury, yet had it even due to two point deductions (113-113).
Fury feels Tapper was the closest to getting it right.
“If you’re a guy that know you beat me by a wide margin, you immediately take that rematch,” Wilder said. “You don’t run and get other fighters or get tune-ups. You immediately take that. Fury know I gave him a concussion. When you get a man that don’t understand how he got on the ground, nor how he got up, his brain has been shooked. He don’t want that fight no more. He don’t wanna get in there no more. This is the common sense of a fighter. But as a fighter, we must promote ourselves. We must carry this ego, like, ‘I’m the man. I did this and that,’ because we don’t want people to look upon us as punks or somebody that’s scared. Well, ‘You’re a fighter! You don’t supposed to be scared!’
“But we’re human beings, too. So deep down inside, he knows the real reason. That’s why he’s fighting another guy. That’s why he had the contract in his face for five days to a week and didn’t sign it. And when ESPN came along and all them, yeah, it sounded good because they knew I was in the back of that. They wanted a rematch and they wanted me on the back of that. So that, right there, already killed his thrill of trying to fight. He didn’t want that fight, or it would’ve been happening. I wouldn’t have fought my mandatory. I would’ve went straight to Fury, and then got that fly out of the way in Breazeale.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.