On Monday, Wilder blamed that 40-plus-pound costume — meant to serve as a tribute to Black History Month — for weak legs that contributed to the one-sided defeat in his second encounter with his British foe. Wilder also confirmed he will exercise a rematch clause in his contract, and he expressed displeasure with a trainer who threw in the towel.
Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) is known for wearing costumes to the ring that are eye-catching — and intimidating, at least in theory. In the week leading up to the fight, he said he spent $40,000 on Saturday’s get-up, but it may have contributed to his poor performance, which cost him the WBC title at Las Vegas’s MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“[Fury] didn’t hurt me at all, but the simple fact is … that my uniform was way too heavy for me,” Wilder told Yahoo Sports. “I didn’t have no legs from the beginning of the fight. In the third round, my legs were just shot all the way through. But I’m a warrior and people know that I’m a warrior. It could easily be told that I didn’t have legs or anything. A lot of people were telling me, ‘It looked like something was wrong with you.’ Something was, but when you’re in the ring, you have to bluff a lot of things. I tried my best to do so.
“I knew I didn’t have the legs because of my uniform.”
Many observers noted during the fight that Wilder, 34, did not appear to be moving very well. After blood began dribbling from his left ear, some wondered if he had suffered an injury that affected his balance.
Meanwhile, Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) — who was carried to the ring on a throne — dominated the fight almost from the opening bell. Having promised to eschew the tactical approach that earned him a split-decision draw in their first fight in 2018, he employed an aggressive strategy that worked to brutal perfection.
Weighing in at 273 pounds on his 6-foot-9 frame, Fury was already certain to enjoy a distinct size advantage over the 6-7, 231-pound Wilder, but Wilder was thought to have more dangerous punching power and a possible edge in stamina if the fight got past the early rounds.
Instead, the 31-year-old Fury landed most of the heavy shots, dropping Wilder twice in the first five rounds before the bout was stopped at 1:39 of the seventh.
Immediately after the match, Wilder’s lead trainer, Jay Deas, suggested that his fighter’s power may have been sapped even before ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. made the introductions.
“His legs didn’t look great to me early on. I didn’t think his legs looked like they normally look,” Deas said of Wilder on Saturday night. “I know he came to the ring in a very, very — the outfit was very heavy, and I don’t know if that had to do with it. Tyson has a lot of weight to be putting on you, as well.”
“Going up the stairs [into the ring], I knew immediately it was a different change in my body condition,” Wilder said Monday to the Associated Press. “After the second round I had no legs, period.”
Of the decision by assistant trainer Mark Breland to throw in the towel, Wilder said, “We had many discussions for years about this situation, and for him to still do it after Jay [Deas] told him not to do it really hurt me.
“And then I heard he was influenced by another fighter in the audience, and it makes a lot of conspiracy theories in your head why he did it. It didn’t make sense.”
Wilder, who was criticized last year for suggesting he wanted to kill a man in the ring, declared Monday that he would want to be treated no differently.
“I said as a warrior, as a champion, as a leader, as a ruler, I want to go out on my shield. If I’m talking about going in and killing a man, I respect the same way. I abide by the same principle of receiving,” he told Yahoo Sports. “So I told my team to never, ever, no matter what it may look like, to never throw the towel in with me because I’m a special kind. I still had five rounds left. No matter what it looked like, I was still in the fight.”
Deas echoed that sentiment after the fight, saying, “Deontay’s a go-out-on-his-shield kind of guy, and he’s let that be known. So [throwing in the towel] was a little bit of a surprise to me, because Deontay is such a puncher that you have to give him every benefit of the doubt, because he can turn things around.”
Wilder said that after returning from a vacation in Africa next month he will decide if he still wants Breland in his corner. “I understand he was looking out for me and trying to do what he felt was right,” Wilder said of Breland, a former welterweight champion and Olympic gold medalist, “but this is my life and my career, and he has to accept my wishes.”
“I still had my senses. Fury’s blows don’t hurt,” Wilder said to the Athletic of his seventh-round condition. “I just didn’t have the legs at all to get out of the way and to show people I was still a warrior who was still going to fight.”
Of the pre-fight costume, which had added weight from sequins, ornaments and batteries to light up his mask, Wilder told the Athletic, “I didn’t expect it to be that heavy and have that effect on me. That’s the thing we didn’t test out: walking to the ring. We didn’t time it right. It’s all my fault. It’s a learning process.
“I really admire Black History Month, and I wanted to pay tribute to all the men and women who came before me, and I risked that over my title. They died for me, they paved the way for me. Now, I’ll pick myself up, just like from where I’ve started. Some people don’t know how to get up, but for everyone looking over me and supporting me, I’m showing them the way.”
Despite claiming that Fury’s punches did not hurt him, Wilder acknowledged (via Yahoo Sports) that his foe “deserves a lot of credit” for the victory.
“I’m super happy for Tyson Fury and I really want to give him my complete congratulations,” Wilder said. “He’s had a lot of great accomplishments in his career, and this is right there with all of them."
Wilder told the AP he wants his next fight to be against Fury this summer.
“I’m a warrior and I’m ready to go again,” the Alabama native said, “but we’re going to change a lot of things in camp.”