‘One champion, one face, one name.’ Deontay Wilder might have go looking for a new slogan after being flattened by Tyson Fury once again.
This defeat offered a much bleaker outlook for the Bronze Bomber. No excuses to hide behind this time. No ring walk costume to blame, no coaches to accuse of spiking his drink. No cheating claims. It was just Fury and himself inside the ring – and he came out second best on a fateful night in Las Vegas.
Take nothing away from his character, Wilder rose to his feet three times during a brusing affair that rendered him a lamb to the slaughter from round six onwards. He kept one promise – that he would rather go out on his shield than throw the towel in and he did just that, but his resilience will do nothing to fix the irreparable damage done to his status as boxing’s most feared fighter.
Deontay Wilder appears in tatters after suffering another defeat against Tyson Fury
Wilder’s lack of boxing skillset was exposed as the Gypsy King used his size and power
Wilder hasn’t got many years left in boxing and doesn’t look like a match for the top fighters
Before running into Fury, Wilder had KO’d every opponent he had ever come up against. His devastating rocket of a right hand and unmatched level of power was his weapon – as well as the menace he carried. That’s gone now.
Sure, any fighter that gets in the ring with Wilder knows they could be taken out in an instant, but they’ll also be aware of his flaws and lack of boxing IQ that Fury so badly exposed across three fights.
In the first bout of their trilogy, the Gypsy King treated him with respect – looking to move around and outbox him – and it nearly got him knocked out as he miraculously survived being floored in round 12.
But by the second time Fury was taking the fight to Wilder – using his size and power to rough him up and lean on him. The man from Tuscaloosa looked absolutely spent by the end of that contest, and it was a similar outcome during the climax of the third.
He once struck fear into his opponents after a long reign as the WBC world champion
His devastating one-punch power gave him a fearsome reputation, but that status is now gone
Wilder was finally in a ring with a stubborn fighter who could absorb his power punches. He fared much better this time, sending Fury to the canvas twice in round four. But the Brit never really looked in trouble – dusting himself off, calmly checking the referee’s count and getting to his feet. Throughout this saga, Wilder has appeared exhausted by Fury’s durability. As he said himself – fail to stop him in the ring and you’re in trouble.
‘There’s always a way of beating Tyson Fury and I’ve always said it very, very clearly,’ Fury said after the Las Vegas classic. ‘You’ve just got to knock me spark out, and if you can’t do that I’ll win.’
Wilder is no spring chicken at 35, his chances of rising back to the summit of the sport look slim to say the least. He’s unlikely to face Fury again, and how would he fare against the likes of Oleksandr Usyk? Even recently beaten Anthony Joshua would fancy his chances of rebuilding his own career with a statement win over Wilder after seeing how troubled he was by Fury’s strength and power. Dillian Whyte – who has been calling him out for years – will be licking his lips too.
Wilder must make a choice whether to press the reset button or go for a world title again
Anthony Joshua and British rival Dillian Whyte would fancy their chances against Wilder
So where does Wilder go from here? Recovery and reboot, most likely. His trainer Malik Scott said he broke his hand in the Fury fight, but it would be ill-advised to take on any of the elite fighters when that’s healed. Many boxers have hung up their gloves at a far earlier age when faced with a similar predicament. Fury’s wife Paris goaded him after his loss and said he should consider calling it a day.
‘Clearly he (Wilder) is a tough man, but he’s not tough enough,’ Paris Fury told iFL TV after the fight. Maybe he (Wilder) will shut up now, go home and go to bed. I’ll be polite but we don’t want to hear that man’s name again.
‘Let him go and do something else, do something else that he’s good at. He’s not good at boxing clearly.’
Wilder, famously bullish and defiant throughout his career, seemed hopeless and downbeat after his stoppage. His glum mood could have easily been interpreted as a man who is on the verge of waving the white flag.
Wilder’s wife Paris has goaded the American after his loss and claimed he should retire
‘I did my best, but it wasn’t good enough tonight,’ he said. ‘I’m not sure what happened. I know that in training he did certain things, and I also knew that he didn’t come in at 277lbs to be a ballet dancer.
‘He came to lean on me, try to rough me up and he succeeded.’
A proud fighter and former champion, Wilder won’t take a decision to retire lightly, and it would be a shock if he did come to that conclusion after previously vowing to end his career at the age of 40. So his options are to go straight back into another world title fight, start again with a few warm-up fights – or how about a switch to UFC?
Wilder teased the possibility of a crossover fight at the start of last year, and said MMA could suit his style, labelling himself ‘a dangerous man in any combat sport’, chillingly claiming he had the power to ‘end a life’.
‘I only have six years and theoretically speaking anything can happen in that timeframe,’ he told ThaBoxingVoice.
‘I’ve spoke out about that before, of course, for me I’ll fight you in my sport and I’ll come to your sport and do it too.
Wilder targeted retirement at 40 and may look to rebuild his reputation as a power puncher
‘I feel MMA, they allow you to get on top of your opponent and bash his face in with velocity and speed coming downwards.
‘Four-ounce gloves, I already talk about getting people out of the ring, but that would definitely be the sport where I show it man.
‘It’s just different rules, different things, I’m built with a set of skills, I have a lot of intellect and a lot of knowledge of combat, period.
‘So I see all the MMA guys always come to boxing because in boxing you have to stand on your feet, you have to be a motherf***ing man for 36 minutes. But I wouldn’t mind going into his world as well too. One for one. May the best man win.
‘But you know, all this is fantasy talk. I don’t think anything will ever come to fruition, I’m just too dangerous of a man in any type of combat sports.
He has also teased a crossover to UFC and has options on the table for his next chapter
‘I really would end a life because I have the power to, and that’s just the damn truth.’
MMA would certainly be an interesting avenue for Wilder and there would be a lot of lucrative offers on the table for him, but crossing over might wreck his ambitions of beating Floyd Mayweather’s record of 50 victories. Wilder’s current record stands at 42, so he has a little way to go in order to claim nine victories in five years.
But starting again and building up his confidence in boxing might be Wilder’s best bet of earning respect again. His other British nemesis Joshua has already stated his desire to finally face the American, with or without a belt on the line, so opportunities will present themselves to him either way.
Wilder is a wounded animal with a target on his head, but his humbling might also present a chance to learn and come back stronger. His dream to become the face of boxing is in ruins, but there is still something to salvage.