Deontay Wilder tried on the elaborate outfit Friday that he wore into the ring for his rematch with Tyson Fury the following evening.
Wilder knew the costume was heavier than anything he had ever worn before a fight, but it didn’t seem like anything that would impact how he felt in their fight. It wasn’t until Wilder removed his mask and body armor after a long walk to the ring that he realized the weight of the 40-plus-pound outfit affected how his legs felt.
Wilder told BoxingScene.com and other outlets Monday that wearing such a heavy costume impacted his performance in a fight the previously unbeaten ex-WBC champion lost by seventh-round technical knockout Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Wilder has drawn criticism for what’s widely been denounced as an unusual excuse for his first professional loss. He has repeatedly stated, though, that he understands the onus is on him for wearing something so heavy into the ring.
The 34-year-old Wilder has worn masks into the ring for many fights, just not anything nearly as weighty as a costume Wilder wore Saturday night in honor of Black History Month.
“I think I’m just gonna have to make some adjustments with the accessories that’s on there,” Wilder explained during an interview with BoxingScene.com. “My last couple of outfits, they had no weight on it. It was more Styrofoam. This time around, we added different heavy things. The skulls, the rhinestones that was on there. There was a lot of things that were designed on there that made it very, very, very heavy. You know, even with the mask, it had battery packs in the mask. So, it was quite a bit, you know, and I’m definitely gonna change that up. That’s something that I’ll never do again.”
Wilder revealed that his legs were “fully gone” by the third round, when Fury first knocked him down. Fury also recorded a fifth-round knockdown.
Mark Breland, Wilder’s assistant trainer, threw in the towel during the seventh round. Wilder was backed into a neutral corner, taking unanswered shots from Fury, when Breland decided he had seen enough.
Wilder has voiced his displeasure with Breland’s decision, but he hasn’t decided whether he’ll make changes to his team (https://www.boxingscene.com/wilder-breland-influenced-throw-towel-by-anthony-dirrell-whos-trained-by-sugar-hill--147079). He also has criticized referee Kenny Bayless for allowing Fury to “fight dirty” by hitting him behind his head and neck (https://www.boxingscene.com/wilder-fury-fought-dirty-possible-bayless-let-him-get-away-with-it--147087).
Regardless, Wilder acknowledged he has no one to blame but himself for choosing a costume he is certain hurt his performance.
“When I first tried it on, I saw it had some type of weight to it,” Wilder said. “You know, but during that time you get so excited and you want people to see it. But we immediately started feeling, ‘All right, we’re gonna have to put this uniform on a certain amount of time before we go out,’ even if we had to delay it a little bit, before putting it on. But our timing wasn’t perfect. We still had the uniform on about 10 to 15 minutes before walking out. And I was walking around with it. I just didn’t have the helmet on.
“And when I put the helmet on and started walking out, it was a long ring walk. Due to the circumstances I was under, it immediately just drained my legs. And then you’re talking about walking up the stairs with it on. It was almost like a workout. I didn’t think it would affect me that much. But it affected me more than I what I expected. Then, by him coming and leaning his body on me and pushing me down and putting me in headlocks, that played a part in affecting my legs as well.”
Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs), of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, also confirmed that he’ll exercise his contractual right for an immediate third fight with England’s Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs). Their contracts call for that bout to happen by July 18, a date by which Wilder said he’ll be more than ready to face Fury again.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.