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Why Deontay Wilder may have more than just a puncher’s chance in trilogy bout with Tyson Fury


In the nearly two full years since Deontay Wilder suffered his first pro defeat at the hands of Tyson Fury in their rematch, “The Bronze Bomber” has barely uttered a word publicly. It was a period of reinvention that the former WBC heavyweight described Wednesday with three simple words. 

“Silence is golden,” Wilder said during the final press conference ahead of Saturday’s trilogy bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.  

The problem for Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs), at least in terms of his public image, wasn’t what he left unsaid over the last 20 months, however. It was the rare times he re-emerged from seclusion to look back on his seventh-round TKO defeat to Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) back in February 2020.  

Wilder blamed everyone and everything for his defeat with the exception of himself. He chastised (and eventually fired) assistant trainer Mark Breland for throwing in the towel to save him from a one-sided beating. He also claimed his performance was ruined by a 40-pound costume he wore to the ring that left him exhausted and lifeless.  

Even worse, the 35-year-old slugger accused Fury of cheating in countless (and largely conspiratorial) ways.  

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The good news (if any) for Wilder is that actions speak louder than words and the brief glimpses the public has seen of his preparations ahead of Saturday’s fight show he has used his idle time wisely. It’s a major reason why Wilder remains a surprisingly small betting underdog despite having lost the vast majority of the 19 rounds the two have undertaken dating back to their disputed split draw in 2018.   

Yet if you’re wondering whether the native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has backed down at all regarding his aggressive claims, that would be a hard no.  

“I don’t regret it and I will go to my grave believing in what I believe in,” Wilder said. “I know things for a fact and I have confirmation [and] clarity of a lot of things. One thing about it is that men lie and women lie but your eyes don’t lie at what you see. Many people can believe what they want, we are all human. But the eyes don’t lie and it has only made me hungrier and better as a fighter to know things for fact.” 

Despite the strong words, Wilder has failed to launch any kind of investigation against Fury that have validated any of his accusations. To most in the boxing world, including Fury, the reaction from Wilder has been looked at as a sign of weakness.  

“I don’t care [about the accusations] because obviously it was coming from an unwell person,” Fury said. “He accused me of everything, as well as accusing his trainer, his suit, his injuries, the referee and the Athletic Commission of Nevada. Maybe if he had come out with one of these excuses it would have been believable but not 50 of them. Come on. He can believe what he wants but what it tells me is that he is a weak little person who I am going to knock spark out on Saturday night.” 

Yet even with the damning evidence against Wilder, it’s hard to look past the reality of what kind of danger he still brings to the ring.  

With a career knockout rate above 93%, Wilder holds the distinction of having finished every opponent he has shared the ring with except Fury. And despite Wilder not holding a win against “The Gypsy King” through two fights against one another, he does own a pair of knockdowns scored against Fury in their first meeting.

Even Fury realizes he can never take a moment off against Wilder who has long said he only needs to be perfect for one punch while his opponents need to do the same for 12 full rounds. But even though using nuclear punching power as a cover for the repeated technical sins made inside the ring took Wilder far in his career, it’s not enough on its own to defeat the very best. Especially not a 6-foot-9 unicorn like Fury with longer arms and quicker hands and feet.  

So even though Wilder’s version of the truth might differ from most of everyone else, it’s clear that he has used it as fuel to begin the process of reinvention following such an unexpectedly long hiatus for both in the aftermath of their rematch when everything from the pandemic to Wilder winning a court injunction to block Fury’s proposed undisputed title bout with Anthony Joshua pushed back the eventual date of the trilogy.  

The biggest question that can’t be answered, however, until fight night is whether Wilder can achieve sweet revenge under the conditions in which he trains. Long accused of employing only “yes men” in his corner and extended team, Wilder seemed to only double down on that presumption by firing Breland, demoting former lead trainer Jay Deas and hiring former opponent and close friend Malik Scott as a first-time head coach to lead him.  

In Wilder’s favor is that Scott, despite having lost via first-round knockout in 2014, is a smart and technical boxing mind who clearly has Wilder’s trust. Provided he can bring out different wrinkles to Wilder’s craft while making him less reliant upon one big counter shot could go a long way given the length of time between fights they had to work together.  

“I’m a student of the game. Deontay, in my opinion, ruled the heavyweight division just using one or two weapons,” Scott said. “Being in training with him, I used to always say that a lot of his skills weren’t being used. He got content knocking people out with one weapon.  

“I went into Deontay’s toolbox and pulled everything out that he did well. I wanted to make sure we drilled it over and over again. I didn’t teach anything new. He has good fundamentals, he just didn’t always use them. I’m just reminding him about tool that he wasn’t using.” 

First and foremost, Wilder stopped using his jab almost exclusively against Fury, which was largely due to Fury’s difficult style of an active guard featuring constant hand and head movement to disarm Wilder. But Scott’s tutelage has also shown, through videos published on Wilder’s Twitter account, a focus on body shots, which is something Wilder seemed to previously abandon altogether.  

Wilder also added a third member to the team in noted UFC cut man and long-time boxing trainer Don House, who once guided Bermane Stiverne to the same WBC heavyweight title that Wilder won from him in 2015 via unanimous decision. Wilder also committed to tough sparring this camp by bringing in veteran heavyweight Robert Helenius and his 6-foot-7 frame.  

Whatever truths one is considering in regards to how to handicap this star-studded trilogy event, there’s a good chance it differs from the truth Wilder is using as a mission statement to drive him for what he calls “redemption, retaliation and retribution,” and a chance to resurrect his career and legacy on the elite level. 

“When you know the truth, it says the truth will set you free,” Wilder said. “I have no pressure on me. And then, when you have nothing to lose, it’s no pressure at all. All the pressure is on him. It’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. Your legacy only dies when the man inside and the fire that drives you dies and I am well alive.” 



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