As is the nature of professional fighting, Deontay Wilder went from hero to zero in the space of days following his dramatic loss to Tyson Fury. However, despite hardly making life easy for himself post-fight, let’s show Wilder the respect he deserves and not presume he is now a chump. This is still a world champion-level boxer.
Certainly, Wilder may be able to redeem himself rapidly if he exercises a clause for a rematch this summer. Boxing and MMA remain leading sports betting avenues, thanks to services like 2, and Fury vs. Wilder III would be big business. That said, few punters would bet on Wilder to beat Fury in a return fight, such was the nature of this loss.
Before discussing why Wilder deserves respect despite his loss to Fury, let’s look at what caused many boxing fans and analysts to turn on him.
If there’s one thing people hate in combat sports, it’s when fighters make an excuse after a loss.
Wilder will know this as well as anyone. Directly after losing to Fury, it seemed Deontay would take the defeat graciously and was talking about his wish “to go out on my shield.” However, soon after Wilder started reeling out excuses, each more preposterous than the next. Probably the most embarrassing excuse was claiming his ring-walk costume (below, all 45 or whatever pounds of it) weakened his legs.
There’s no doubt Wilder looked leggy even during the first round and let’s not sniff at a costume that weighed over 40 pounds.
Still, as excuses go it was fairly poor and most people think Wilder should have kept his mouth shut.
As mentioned, Wilder is seeking a third fight with Fury, which would now serve as redemption. British fighter Fury is more likely to be seeking a heavyweight unification bout with fellow Brit Anthony Joshua, maybe. Ironically, Joshua serves as a good example of how to lose graciously, an example Wilder should have followed.
When Joshua lost his belts in embarrassing fashion to Andy Ruiz Jr. last year, there were stories that he was ill before the bout. The in-ring evidence suggested Joshua was not himself but at the same time, Ruiz Jr. outclassed him. Post-fight, Joshua made no excuses and never confirmed any of the stories about his illness.
Instead, Joshua doubled down, reunited with his team and came back stronger for a classy win over an admittedly poor Ruiz Jr. in the return contest. If Wilder had taken a similar path after losing to Fury, boxing fans would have treated him far more fairly.
That said, the level of disrespect Wilder has been given has been disproportionate. Heading into the fight with Fury, many pegged the Bronze Bomber as the greatest knockout puncher in boxing history. Two days after the fight, many of those same people were behaving like Wilder was always a chump who has now been found out.
There is nothing that gives your soul, heart, and self-respect a more thorough public examination as combat sports. Wilder was beaten by a better boxer and his limitations were exposed. However, we cannot forget how he has dispatched opponents in the past with his sledgehammer punching power. That power is not gone and while Fury would be odds on to win the third contest, Wilder’s immense knockout potential means he will always stand a chance.