For nearly six minutes, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder stood ramrod straight, staring into each other’s eyes. The current and former WBC heavyweight champion appeared at a news conference Tuesday in Los Angeles to promote the third bout between them, which will be July 24 in Las Vegas.
Wilder chose not to answer questions, letting new trainer Malik Scott handle the gentle inquiries directed to him from Top Rank’s Crystina Poncher. Wilder sat at the dais with headphones on, dark sunglasses covering his eyes and his mobile phone in his hands. He had a jacket tied around his waist.
A few feet away, a shirtless Fury cackled and joked and predicted all sorts of doom upon Wilder.
Poncher asked Fury what he thought of Wilder refusing to answer questions. It was a chance to zing his rival, whom he stopped in the seventh round of their second meeting on Feb. 22, 2020, in Las Vegas, and he couldn’t pass up that opportunity.
“It shows how weak of a mental person he is and how much the beating from the last fight has took on him,” Fury said. “[It has had] a physical and emotional effect on his life. I was worried about Deontay for a while after the defeat I gave him. Obviously he’s got his earphones on and doesn’t want to answer any questions.
“That’s up to him, but I’m here to promote a fight and talk to the press, as I always do.”
Shortly thereafter, they were asked to pose for the photographers in what is an increasingly outdated and unnecessary ritual in boxing. Halfway through the news conference, an aide brought Fury his sport coat, a white jacket with print that matched his slacks, and he put it on.
But when he made his way to the front of the dais to pose, he removed the jacket. He stood with a baseball cap on backward, bared-chested, and looked in Wilder’s direction. Wilder approached from the other side, his headphones and glasses still on.
They stared into each other’s eyes. And they stared. And they stared again.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) June 15, 2021
Early in the staredown, Wilder removed his glasses. Fury spoke a bit, but for the most part, they stood gazing menacingly at each other, motionless.
It was making the staff nervous. Poncher got to the microphone and asked them to turn forward toward to the cameras. They never moved. A few seconds after that, Top Rank publicist Evan Korn approached from behind Fury. He got within about 10 feet and then seemed to have thought better of the idea and backed off.
Security guards began to come onto stage as the staredown continued. Finally, the guards moved toward the front as members of both teams moved in behind their man. This is often the time where things go crazy, because one of the team members loses his cool and says something that sparks a fight.
There was chirping from both sides, but just before six minutes, Wilder put the glasses back on, spun on his heels and departed. Fury remained for a few more moments.
It was strange but entirely predictable. Wilder has barely spoken publicly since losing to Fury and claiming two days after the fight that his costume he wore to the ring was too heavy. He’s blasted media members, accused former trainer Mark Breland of spiking his water and generally been inaccessible.
Wilder was long one of the good guys in boxing and was a colorful character quick with a quip who did brilliant work promoting a fight and better work in ending them. Prior to Feb. 22, 2020, Wilder had won 42 of his 43 previous bouts, all by knockout. The only one he didn’t win by KO was a draw with Fury on Dec. 1, 2018, in Los Angeles, where Wilder had Fury down and nearly out in the 12th.
But he was seemingly unprepared for the strategy that Fury employed in the rematch, one which he said from the outset he’d use. Fury and trainer Javan SugarHill Steward vowed to walk down Wilder and stop him, and that’s what occurred.
Wilder said the heavy uniform he wore to the ring took his legs away from him and that he wasn’t able to perform at his usual level. On Tuesday, Scott did most of the talking for him. When Jimmy Lennon Jr. introduced him, Wilder at first did not get up to speak. Lennon tapped him on the shoulder and the former champion arose.
After thanking his team, he said, “Look, enough said. Time to cut off his head. Come July the 24th, there will be bloodshed. Get your tickets now. I’ll see you soon.”
With that, he was done. He said not another word until departing the stage, even during that six-minute staredown that seemed like an hour.
It’s hard to know what to make of Wilder’s demeanor these past 16 months. He’s one of the most successful fighters in the world and had been on top for five years before being dethroned by Fury.
A lot of boxers have difficulty coping with a defeat, but few have shown that as much publicly as Wilder has shown.
Fury is a -285 favorite at BetMGM, while Wilder is +230. It would be wrong to count Wilder out because, for all of Fury’s technical superiority, there have been few heavyweights who have ever hit as hard as Wilder.
One punch, no matter how badly he’s being outboxed, is all it will take.
The important thing is, he has an opportunity to right what he perceives as a wrong, and get his belt back from Fury. He’s not going to do that by talking or engaging the media.
That might help sell a few extra pay-per-views, but it won’t help him win the fight.
To do that, he’s going to have to make some fundamental changes in his approach. Scott has indicated they’re working on those.
The way it seems, though, is that we may not hear from Wilder again until, win or lose, the third fight ends.
As he showed Tuesday, he’s great at staring straight ahead without talking.
Now, he just has to prove he’s still got the ability to punch like he once showed he did.
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