Wilder to keep Breland, trainer who threw in towel

  • 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism
  • ESPN.com boxing writer since 2005
  • Five years at USA Today

Former heavyweight world titlist Deontay Wilder said Friday that he has decided to keep careerlong co-trainer Mark Breland as part of his team.

Wilder suffered a seventh-round knockout loss in his rematch with Tyson Fury last Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas when Breland threw in the towel, ending what had been a one-sided fight in which Wilder had already been knocked down twice and was taking tremendous punishment.

“I’m a warrior. I feel the same way I felt on fight night — if I have to go out, I want to go out on my shield,” Wilder told ESPN in a statement Friday night. “But I understand that my corner and my team has my best interest at heart. Mark Breland is still a part of Team Wilder and our team looks forward to preparing for the [trilogy fight].”

Wilder plans to exercise his contractual right to face Fury again in their next fight. They fought to a disputed draw in their first fight, in December 2018.

After Breland threw in the towel last week, Jay Deas, Wilder’s co-trainer, said he did not agree with Breland’s decision, and Wilder also was extremely upset.

“For Mark to do it, I was very heartbroken,” Wilder told ESPN earlier this week. “If I say statements like I want to kill a man [in the ring], then I have to abide by those same principles in the ring of him doing the same thing to me. I’d rather die than go out with someone throwing the towel in.

“He knows these things. It’s been premeditated. I’ve said this for many years. I told all my trainers, no matter how it may look on the outside, no matter how you may love me or have that emotional feeling, don’t make an emotional decision and do not ever throw that towel in because my pride is everything. I understand what it looks like but when you have power like me I am never out of a fight, no matter what the circumstances. I’m never out of a fight.”

Wilder said at the time that he and the whole team loved Breland but he would decide whether to keep him in the corner following a trip to Africa that Wilder is soon to embark upon. But Wilder made the decision before leaving.

Breland was an Olympic gold medalist and a two-time world champion as a professional before beginning to train fighters.

England’s Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs), 31, knocked Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs), 34, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, down in the third round with a right hand to the head and with a body shot in the fifth round before Breland finally threw in the towel with Wilder under assault in the seventh.

According to Fury co-promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank, the third fight is contractually due to take place by July 18 in the United States. But Arum said he would consult with Wilder co-manager Al Haymon of Premier Boxing Champions on figuring out the exact date. Arum said the Fury side is willing to move the fight to the fall if Wilder needs more rest after last week’s fight or if it makes sense commercially.

Last week’s fight was a joint pay-per-view between Top Rank broadcaster ESPN and Fox, which has a contract with PBC. The third fight would also be a joint pay-per-view.

The fight, which received massive promotion from both outlets, generated between 800,000 and 850,000 buys, multiple sources told ESPN. While that is the biggest American heavyweight pay-per-view total since Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson generated a hair under 2 million buys in 2002, Wilder-Fury II needed to sell about 1.2 million subscriptions for the event to break even, according to sources. Wilder and Fury were guaranteed more than $25 million apiece on a deal that was 50-50 between the sides. The third fight flips to 60-40 in favor of the Fury side since he won.

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