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Deontay Wilder’s Lame Excuse Gets No Brownie Points for Originality

Arne K. Lang

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Deontay Wilder’s Lame Excuse Gets No Brownie Points for Originality

Deontay Wilder had 43 pro fights under his belt before he suffered his first pro loss. But the Alabama knockout artist didn’t just lose to Tyson Fury in their rematch. In the court of public opinion, he fell from grace with a thud.

Knocked down twice before referee Kenny Bayless waived the fight off in the seventh stanza, the Bronze Bomber initially blamed his woeful performance on the elaborate costume that he chose for his ring walk. Reportedly costing $40,000, the rhinestone-studded outfit – which didn’t stand out or photograph well in the dark arena – was designed, said Wilder, to celebrate Black History Month, but it’s a fair guess that most folks wouldn’t have made that connection. This reporter’s first impression was that Wilder got his months mixed up and thought that Halloween fell in February.

The costume, said to weigh 40 pounds, was cumbersome: “I didn’t have no legs from the beginning of the fight,” Wilder told Yahoo’s Kevin Iole. “In the third round, my legs were just shot all the way through.”

costume

Finding excuses for a bad outing is old hat in sports, especially boxing, and the list of excuses is long. In blaming his performance on his ring costume, Deontay Wilder invented a new category.

He should have left it at that, but this past Saturday, in a rambling and somewhat incoherent two-minute video, Wilder doubled-down with a hackneyed excuse, alleging, among other things, that his water was spiked with some sort of muscle relaxer. He pointed the finger of blame at co-trainer Mark Breland.

The “someone messed with my water” accusation is hoary. It likely first cropped-up in the bare-knuckle era.

James J. Jeffries, who won the world heavyweight title from Bob Fitzsimmons, was undefeated when he retired in 1904. Reluctant to return to the ring, he eventually succumbed to the fervent plea to come back and restore the title to the white race.

Jeffries was favored over Jack Johnson when they met at Reno in 1910 in the first Fight of the Century, but Big Jeff was a shell of his former self and won nary a round until the bout was stopped in the 15th.

In hindsight, the outcome was predictable. In retirement, Jeffries’ weight ballooned to 315 pounds and after trimming down he still had plenty of rust to shed after being out of action for almost six full years. But immediately there was talk that Jeffries had been drugged, talk that he encouraged. “It would have been impossible for me to break down in the condition I was in, so suddenly, unless someone got to me in an underhanded way. That I was tampered with is a certainty,” he said.

The famous sportswriter Robert Edgren “confirmed” the persistent rumor in a story written for Liberty magazine in 1926, but put a new spin on it. According to Edgren, it wasn’t Jeffries’ water that was spiked, but rather a cup of tea that Jeffries consumed after being conned into thinking that his wife had made it for him. “They gave him enough (sedative) to knock out an elephant,” wrote Edgren, a longtime pal of Jim Jeffries.

Flash forward to 1995 and one finds George Foreman making a similar accusation regarding his iconic 1974 “Rumble” with Muhammad Ali. In his autobiography “By George,” co-authored with Joel Engel, Foreman accused his former trainer/manager Dick Sadler of dehydrating him and said that Sadler may have also tainted his water. He further alleged that Sadler had taken $25,000 from him to give to referee Zack Clayton as an insurance policy to make certain Clayton would not disqualify him. He conceded that he did not know if the referee received the under-the-table payment or if Sadler had kept the money for himself.

Foreman reiterated the part about the water in his 2007 book “God in my corner,” his first of two collaborations with Ken Abraham. “I almost spit it out,” Foreman said. “(I told Sadler), ‘Man, I know this water has medicine in it.’ I climbed into the ring with that medicinal taste still lingering in my mouth.…After three rounds, I was as tired as if I had gone 15.” (Upon hearing this, Muhammad Ali purportedly quipped, “there was worse medicine waiting for him when he got in the ring.”)

Foreman’s 1995 book caused him some flack. Dick Sadler, who had been with Foreman since the advent of George’s pro career – and had worked with other boxers before him, notably Archie Moore – was well-respected in the boxing community. Moreover, it didn’t jibe that Foreman, who replaced Sadler with Gil Clancy following his loss to Ali, rehired Sadler as his lead trainer in 1977 following his loss to Jimmy Young (albeit they would never team up again in an actual fight as Foreman abandoned boxing for the ministry).

When Foreman reiterated his allegation in his 2007 book, there was no backlash whatsoever. By then, Big George had charmed his way into the hearts of millions and to smudge him was tantamount to sacrilege. And Sadler was no longer around to defend himself. He died in 2003 at age 88.

Commenting on Deontay Wilder’s most recent allegation, Kevin Iole used the word heinous.

We get it. Mark Breland, the former Olympic gold medalist and former two-time welterweight champion, is a man of unimpeachable integrity. Throwing him under the bus was contemptible. However….lighten up, Kevin.

Aside from some of Wilder’s homies, it’s doubtful that anyone is giving any credence to Deontay’s bizarre accusations. Breland, who thus far hasn’t seen fit to dignify Wilder’s assertion with a rebuttal — at least not publicly – won’t have trouble finding other fighters to train; his reputation is solid.

Wilder’s frustration may have clouded his judgment. There was a rematch clause in his contract with Tyson Fury, but Fury’s co-managers Frank Warren and Bob Arum found a loophole in the fine print that has enabled them to renege on the deal. Fury will now face someone else when he next steps into the ring – reputedly in London in December with Agit Kabayel in the opposite corner – while Wilder’s career is in limbo.

It has been written that those with a financial stake in Wilder’s career were likely chagrined by these latest developments. We doubt that. It will serve Wilder well to keep his name in the news, even if he comes across as a buffoon. Someday, someone will write the story of his life, an “as told to” book where Wilder will share in the royalties – shucks, fighters of far lesser importance have been the subject of authorized biographies, some even with the backing of strong publishing houses.

When that book is written, it will garner a few more sales if Wilder sticks tight to his conspiracy theories. Just ask George Foreman.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

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Tyson and Jones Box to an Unofficial Draw in a Predictable Stinker

Arne K. Lang

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The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, an American institution, went belly-up in 2017, but a different kind of circus played to an empty house at the Staples Center in Los Angeles tonight. The main attraction wasn’t Jumbo the elephant but Iron Mike Tyson in his first ring appearance in 15 years. In the opposite corner was Roy Jones Jr, who at age 51 was the younger man by three years.

Tyson vs. Jones was the main piece of a 4-hour boxing and music festival live-streamed in the U.S. on the TysononTriller.com app at a list price of $49.95. This was the first live event on “Triller” which allows people to create their own music videos and was designed as a rival to China-owned TikTok, one of the biggest recent success stories in the internet world.

The California State Athletic Commission, which sanctioned the match, insisted that Tyson vs. Jones would be an exhibition. They would fight 8 two-minute rounds with 12-ounce gloves and if there were a knockdown, the referee would not give a count and the bout would or would not continue at his discretion. The rounds would not be scored and no winner would be named.

Of course, the promoter chafed at these restraints and did his best to create the impression that this was a legitimate prizefight. Retired boxers Vinny Pazienza, Chad Dawson, and Christy Martin were lassoed to serve as judges, scoring the fight from a remote location, and the WBC commissioned an honorary belt to present to the winner.

The advance hype was enormous. A clickbait-obsessed media lapped it up including photoshop-enhanced images of Mike Tyson’s physique.

In the second round, Tyson landed a double left hook and that was the only indelible moment in the match. By the third round, both looked and sounded tired and by the sixth round Jones was thoroughly gassed out and took to clinching to make it to the final bell.

For the record, the scores were 79-73 for Tyson (Martin), 80-76 for Jones (Pazienza), and 76-76 (Dawson). On the internet, the clear consensus was that Tyson had the best of it.

Mike Tyson, 50-6, 2 NC (44 KOs) last fought in June of 2005 when he was stopped by third-rater Kevin McBride. Roy Jones (66-9, 47 KOs) was active as recently as 2018 and won his last four, but against hand-picked opponents including a boxer making his pro debut. His last fight of significance came in 2011 when he was brutally KOed by Dennis Lebedev in Moscow.

Jones, who weighed 210 ½ tonight, weighed 157 when he made his pro debut in 1989. In his prime, he was pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world, but that was back in the previous century.

Both fighters were reportedly guaranteed $1 million with Tyson’s take potentially reaching $10 million if certain financial targets were met.

Other Bouts

YouTube sensation Jake Paul, who we reluctantly concede has more than a modicum of talent in the fisticuffing department, knocked out Nate Robinson in the second round and it was a clean knockout with Robinson knocked out cold. The 36-year-old Robinson, the former NBA point guard who was a three-time slam dunk champion during his 11-year NBA career, is a well-rounded athlete, good enough to start as a cornerback in football during his freshman year at the University of Washington, but his athleticism didn’t translate to the squared circle as he looked like a common bar brawler.

Former two-division belt-holder Badou Jack (22-3-4), who said he appeared on the card as a favor to his friend Mike Tyson, was a clear-cut winner over hard-trying but out-classed Blake McKernan in an 8-round cruiserweight match.

At age 37, Jack’s career is winding down. He tipped the scales at 188 ¾, 14 pounds more than in his previous engagement vs. Jean Pascal. McKernan, a natural cruiserweight from Sacramento, was undefeated coming in (13-0), but was over his in over his head against Jack, a former Olympian and veteran of seven world title fights.

In a good action fight, Worcester, Massachusetts lightweight Jamaine Ortiz, a carpenter by trade, improved to 14-0 (8) with a seventh-round stoppage of Sulaiman Segawa (13-3-1), a Maryland-based Ugandan.

In the first bout on the program, Fort Worth featherweight Edward Vazquez improved to 9-0 (1) with an 8-round split decision over Jamaine Ortiz stablemate Irvin Gonzalez (14-3).

Heavyweight Juiseppe “Joe” Cusumano improved to 19-3 (17) with a sixth-round stoppage of late sub Gregory Corbin (15-4). It was the fourth straight loss for the 40-year-old Corbin who came in at a beefy 291 ¾ pounds.

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Fast Results from London: Joe Joyce Stops Daniel Dubois in the 10th

Arne K. Lang

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The historic Church House which sits in the shadow of Westminster Abbey was the site of tonight’s clash in London between unbeaten heavyweights Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce. The bout lacked the gloss of a world title fight, but didn’t need it. The oft-postponed match, originally slated for the 02 Arena in London on April 11 with promoter Frank Warren anticipating a sellout, was fairly hyped as the most anticipated fight since Fury-Wilder II which was the last big fight before the coronavirus clampdown.

Dubois, 15-0 with 14 KOs heading in, was a consensus 7/2 favorite in man-to-man betting, He was younger, faster and punched harder, but ultimately it would be his “O” that had to go. Joe Joyce, an inch taller at six-foot-six and 15 pounds heavier at 259, emerged victorious with a 10th-round stoppage in what was a good back-and-forth fight with a divided opinion as to who had the edge through the completed rounds.

Joyce really didn’t do much but throw a jab, but he landed that jab consistently and it was a hard, thudding jab that caused Dubois’s left eye to start swelling during the mid-rounds of the fight. The damaged eye eventually shut and when Joyce reached it with another hard jab in the 10th, Dubois surrendered by taking a knee. The presumption was that he had suffered a broken orbital bone.

The 35-year-old Joyce, nicknamed Juggernaut, is of Scotch-Irish and Nigerian descent. He lost by split decision to Tony Yoka in the semifinals of the 2016 Olympics and had to settle for a silver medal. Prior to turning pro, he was 12-1 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing with his lone defeat coming at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk. With today’s career-defining win, he upped his pro ledger to 12-0 (11).

Other Bouts

Top-rated WBC super lightweight contender Jack Catterall (26-0) won a predictably one-sided 10-round triumph over 33-year-old Tunisian Abderrazak Houya (14-3). Catterall scored two knockdowns en route to winning by a 99-90 score. This was a stay-busy fight for the Lancashire man who was the mandatory challenger for title-holder Jose Carlos Ramirez and accepted step-aside money with the promise that he would meet the winner of the unification fight between Ramirez and Josh Taylor which is expected to come off in February.

The lead-in fight was a 10-round contest in the super welterweight division between 21-year-old Hamzah Sheeraz and 33-year-old Guido Nicolas Pitto. The fight was monotonous until Sheeraz (12-0, 8 KOs) kicked it into a higher career in the final stanza and brought about the stoppage. Pitto, from Spain by way of Argentina, declined to 26-8-2. The official time was 1:11 of round 10.

In an 8-round cruiserweight bout, Jack Massey improved to 17-1 (8) with a 79-74 referee’s decision over Mohammad Ali Farid (16-2-1). Massey was making his first start since losing a close 12-round decision to Richard Raikporhe in December of 2019 for the vacant BBBofC title. The well-traveled, one-dimensional Farid had scored 16 knockouts in his previous 18 fights while answering the bell for only 33 rounds.

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Daniel Jacobs Edges Past Gabe Rosado on a Matchroom card in Florida

David A. Avila

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Former world champion Daniel Jacobs needed the last round to win by split decision against upset-minded Gabe Rosado and keep his place in line on Friday for lucrative super middleweight matchups.

But when the ring announcer erroneously announced the winner was from Philadelphia, confusion reigned for a moment until Jacobs was correctly called the winner.

Brooklyn’s Jacobs (37-3, 30 KOs) jumped out ahead against Philly fighter Rosado (25-13-1, 14 KOs) and held on for the win in front of no fans at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. For a second, many thought Rosado had won.

Both were careful during the first three rounds measuring each other’s distance and looking for openings to counter. There were very few.

It was the kind of fight expected by those who know boxing: two veterans with immense experience against top-flight world champions. Mistakes were few.

Jacobs, a former middleweight world champion, had fought Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in close but losing efforts.

Rosado had battled Golovkin too, six years ago in a bloody affair that ended in a loss. He had also lost to other champions like Peter Quillin and Jermell Charlo. But none were able to knock him out.

Both were aware of each other’s reputation. Bitter words had been exchanged for years and now they finally got their chance to prove their mettle and they did.

Though Jacobs was recognized as a knockout puncher, Rosado’s resilience was just as well known. Both neutralized each other for most of the fight with their feints and jabs to the body. Neither was willing to leave openings for each other.

Jacobs scored big with a left uppercut at the end of the seventh round. While Rosado wowed viewers with a sizzling right cross in the 11th round.

It was 1950s style, boxing with intelligence. Each found it difficult to land combinations, let alone find openings to score knockout blows. Instead, they had to be satisfied with scoring enough to convince three judges the actual winner.

Neither was able to pull out ahead with any conviction.

After 12 rounds one judge saw Rosado the winner 115-113 while two others saw Jacobs the winner 115-113 to give him the win by split decision.

“It felt just a little weird. It felt like a sparring match,” said Jacobs about fighting without fans in the audience. “This wasn’t a valiant effort.”

Rosado was certain he was the true winner.

“I thought I won the fight. I surprised him,” said Rosado who trained with Freddie Roach for this fight. “I’m a veteran, I know how to fight.”

Indeed, he does.

Jacobs now stands poised to fight one of many super middleweight champions in need of a marquee name.

“I live to see another day,” he said honestly.

Other Bouts

Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Yeleussinov (10-0, 6 KOs) proved he was not an easy touch and knocked out former world champion Julius Indongo (23-3, 12 KOs) to march forward in the welterweight division while grabbing the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title.

In a fight featuring southpaw versus southpaw Yeleussinov caught Indongo with a roundhouse left the first time they exchanged and down went the former super lightweight world champion. Indongo beat the count and survived the round.

Indongo wasn’t as lucky in the second round as Yeleussinov again connected with a left and down went the fighter from Namibia again. He would not get up at 1:24 of round two giving the knockout win for Yeleussinov.

A battle between undefeated heavyweights saw Azerbaijan’s Mahammadrasul Majidov (3-0, 3 KOs) use roundhouse rights to stagger the heavier Sahret Delgado (8-1) to win by knockout in the third round. Majidov actually helped Delgado get to his stool after knocking him out on his feet at 47 seconds of the third round.

Emmanuel Tagoe (32-1) defeated Mason Menard (36-5) by majority decision after a 10- round lightweight fight that saw a lot of clinching and leaning.

Nikita “White Chocolate” Ababiy (10-0) out-fought Detroit’s Brandon Maddox (7-4-1) to win by unanimous decision after six rounds in a middleweight clash. Ababiy hurt Maddox with body shots but found Maddox more resilient than expected.

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