By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Deontay Wilder chowed down on a succulent steak Thursday afternoon.
The slender heavyweight will have to eat plenty of comparable meals over the next few months if he is to add the type of weight Wilder intends to put on before the immediate rematch he wants with Tyson Fury. The 6-feet-7 Wilder walked into the ring Saturday night at just 209 pounds, 3½ less than at the official weigh-in Friday and approximately 50 fewer than Fury.
Between bites Thursday, the unbeaten WBC champion also chewed the fat with a small group of reporters who assembled at Gallaghers Steakhouse to see a replay of the Showtime Pay-Per-View battle between Wilder and Fury. Wilder watched their fight for the first time since settling for a 12-round split draw with his brave, brash British challenger at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
While watching their fascinating fight unfold, Wilder admitted “it’s really hard to judge.” Once the replay ended, however, Wilder felt the same way he did in the immediate aftermath of their closely contested encounter.
“I didn’t feel like he took the fight away from me, because I was more aggressive,” Wilder said. “I was throwing more punches. I really felt like I won the fight. I really felt like that. Even when you look at it [again], it’s hard to really judge that fight because I’m all over him. I’m missing some, but I ain’t missing all of ‘em. I’m landing some as well, too, or his face wouldn’t have been what it was neither. And coming [to America], you gotta dominate. You gots to. And then, with the two knockdowns like that, especially when I knocked him down, I really feel like I sealed the deal then.”
California’s Alejandro Rochin was the only judge that agreed with Wilder’s perspective. He scored their fight 115-111 for Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs), who won seven rounds on Rochin’s card.
Canada’s Robert Tapper was watching a different fight from Rochin. He scored eight rounds for Fury, 114-112, once you deduct two points from Fury’s tally for the knockdowns Wilder produced during the ninth and 12th rounds.
England’s Phil Edwards credited Fury with winning seven rounds, thus it was even on his card once it went the distance (113-113).
Wilder had the biggest beef with Showtime’s Steve Farhood, a respected expert who scored their fight for Fury by a wider distance than Tapper. Farhood scored nine of the 12 rounds for Fury, 115-111, by the time their back-and-forth fight concluded.
“Farhood was blind, too,” Wilder said. “He needs glasses.”
Wilder was quickly reminded that Farhood already wears glasses.
“Well, he needs more if he said I only won two rounds, the two knockdowns,” Wilder said. “That’s bullsh*t. That’s bullsh*t. I can’t wait to see these guys. … What the hell Farhood was [watching]? I would love to see this man. I’d love to see him. Like, what are you looking at?”
Wilder will have to agree to disagree with Farhood, fellow Showtime commentator Paulie Malignaggi and countless observers convinced that the 6-feet-9, 260-pound Fury performed plenty well enough to earn a victory over him. Fury was masterful defensively, except for those two troublesome moments when Wilder dropped him with a right hand in the ninth round and a right-left combination in the 12th round.
Wilder overthrew his right hand numerous times in this memorable bout, often times swinging wildly and missing. Wilder was the regular aggressor, though, and never stopped trying to take out the elusive Englishman in what amounted to one of the most riveting heavyweight title fights of this generation.
Showtime’s unofficial punch statistics credited Fury for landing 13 more overall punches than Wilder (84-of-327 to 71-of-430). Fury, according to those figures, connected with more power punches (38-of-104 to 31-of-182) and more jabs (46-of-223 to 40-of-248).
“The other guy’s defense was good, but the facts speak for themselves,” said promoter Lou DiBella, who works with Wilder. “He threw 103 more punches [than Fury]. So, I mean, he brought the fight. You throw 103 more punches, that means something.”
While Wilder hadn’t seen the full fight until Thursday, his head trainer, Jay Deas, had watched it carefully once he returned home to Alabama.
“My coach went back and watched the fight,” Wilder said. “He said he had it [115-111] my way. He said even if he gave Fury every bit of credit – he tried to give him every bit of credit to Fury. And then, when he did that, he still had it [114-112] my way. I was the more aggressive. I landed the more effective punches.”
The first of Wilder’s most effective punches was landed with just over two minutes to go in the ninth round. With a vulnerable Fury bent over, Wilder’s overhand right drilled Fury to the side of his head and dropped him for the first time in the fight.
“I don’t think he’s hurt, but the way he was holding me, he was holding me very tight,” Wilder said while watching Fury recover from that first knockdown. “I think he was just buzzed. It’s a difference between hurt and being buzzed.”
Wilder felt different about the straight right/left hook combination that dumped Fury flat on his back about 40 seconds into the 12th round.
“I thought it was over,” Wilder said. “I still don’t know how the hell he got up from that.”
Before finally flooring Fury in the ninth round, Wilder didn’t deny that his skillful foe had begun building some momentum following a fourth round in which Wilder bloodied Fury’s nose by bashing him with several stiff jabs.
“His jab was coming on,” Wilder said. “He was definitely sticking his jab. It was getting to the point where he was in a routine, just like he was in a routine, rhythm. I’d be lying if I said I won all the rounds.”
Wilder wishes he hadn’t abandoned his jab and knows he should’ve thrown more body shots. The hard-hitting champion went away from his game plan because he was hellbent on knocking out Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs).
The 33-year-old Wilder would be calmer and more patient in their rematch. The Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native is certain he’ll win their second bout by knockout.
Wilder wants to fight Fury again as soon as possible. He mentioned March, April or May, but Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza said Thursday that it could take place as late as June, just to give Wilder and Fury enough time to recover and rest before embarking on another exhausting press tour and training camp.
Wilder is open to their rematch taking place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, anywhere in Las Vegas or even at a soccer stadium in London or Fury’s hometown of Manchester, England. Wherever they can make the most money, Wilder will fight Fury there.
Those are decisions that’ll be made early in 2019. For now, with almost a week’s worth of post-fight publicity behind him, Wilder will return to Tuscaloosa for some well-deserved down time with his family.
Wilder knows what he’ll spend some of his break from boxing doing.
“That’s a great fight,” Wilder said once the replay ended at Gallaghers. “Let’s see it again. I can watch this over and over.”
Even those that think Fury won agree with Wilder on that.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.