Fury and Wilder engage in a war of no words; Lopez vs Kambosos off due to COVID
SAN DIEGO, Calif., June 15, 2021 – The state of California returned mainly to normal life on Tuesday with almost all pandemic restrictions lifted as the West Coast boxing media gathered for the first time since early 2020 for a news conference featuring the July 24 trilogy rematch between heavyweights Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury.
Not so fast. A dose of reality rocked the house. Unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez Jr. tested positive for COVID-19, forcing his title defense against Australian George Kambosos scheduled Saturday, June 19, to be postponed along with the rest of the fight card to late August. Lopez Jr. is reported to be showing symptoms, and early in the pandemic, he stayed in Arkansas to protect himself. Lopez Jr. has asthma. The pandemic is not done with us.
Wilder and Fury aren’t done with each other either. Following the loss of his WBC World Heavyweight title and his undefeated record by stoppage to Fury 16 months ago on February 22, 2020, in Las Vegas, Wilder blamed everything and everybody for the seventh round TKO loss except his own poor performance. He had plenty to say, each excuse more unhinged than the last. With the pandemic stretching across weeks, a lot of people were going a little stir crazy.
Meanwhile, Fury pursued a unification title fight with his countryman Anthony Joshua. With the fight on the brink of being set for an August date in Saudi Arabia, Wilder’s legal team won enforcement of a rematch clause. Goodbye, Joshua vs. Fury. Hello, Fury Wilder 3.
Bronze Bomber silence is golden
Fast forward to Tuesday in Los Angeles. Wilder appeared with Fury alongside their respective trainers Sugarhill Steward and Malik Scott to talk up their rematch in Las Vegas on July 24. Wilder made a single opening statement of 52 words total in the single pre-fight appearance for the big men, taking 26 seconds. Wilder’s statement in its entirety:
“I’d like to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ. I’d like to thank my amazing team. I’d like to thank my amazing legal team as well. Look, enough said. Time to cut off his head. Come July the 24, there will be bloodshed. Get your tickets now. I’ll see you soon.”
Wilder didn’t speak another word. He refused to answer questions, letting trainer Scott answer. When it came time for the customary faceoff, Wilder stepped up wearing sunglasses and headphones and stared at Fury. Fury stared back for five minutes and 40 seconds. The stalemate only ended when Wilder left the stage and was hustled past the press and out the door.
Fury: ‘Wilder is a one-trick pony’
Fury, who has no trouble filling a silence, brushed off any claims Wilder could reverse his fortunes in a third fight, despite a new trainer and desire to change. “He said all this last time, decapitation and bloodshed and all that. And we all know what went down.
“I look forward to the challenge. I hope he’s going something different than he did last time, and he needs to. Let’s just face facts. He shows how weak of a mental person he is, how much of a beating from the last fight has took; emotional, mental, physical effect on his life.”
Fury said he believes he will face the same version of Wilder he defeated in 2020. “Deontay Wilder is a one-trick pony. He has one-punch power, we all know that. I’m going to run him over as if I’m an 18-wheeler and he’s a human being. I guarantee it will not go past where it did before.” Fury vowed he would end the fight in fewer rounds than last year. “If I’m a man to my word, I can run him over quicker than round seven, and I think I do.”
Fury also said he plans to bulk up to 300 pounds for this bout to impose his will on Wilder. How? By eating bananas. Why not, since the entire day was bananas.
Faceoff or fight, which lasts longer?
Fans feel disappointed a true unification fight is off the schedule for now while Fury faces Wilder, and Anthony Joshua is expected to face mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk. If either Fury or Joshua loses, the luster of unification could be lost. But the rematch is not a bad fight at all. Tickets are selling briskly on their first day of sale. People are excited about opportunities to enjoy themselves in post-pandemic life. This fight at the T-Mobile Arena will be the biggest boxing event in Las Vegas since Wilder and Fury fought in February 2020. If British fans can travel, they will. It will generate much-needed revenue and jobs in Sin City. Nothing negative here.
Can Wilder shake off the shock of his first loss and focus on what he needs to do to win? If quitting the excuses and the trash talk helps him, he’s doing the right thing. Although he didn’t give interviews, he gave boxing media a gift with a guaranteed five minutes and 40 seconds of video viewing to boost time spent on the page for all the YouTube boxing channels.
If this faceoff isn’t the longest on record, no one can recall one topping it. Boxing historian Lee Groves suggested a hot-tempered lengthy faceoff between Vinny Paz and Greg Haugen as one of the few possible candidates. If the fight doesn’t last as long as the faceoff five weeks from now, it’s a record-breaking night for sure on July 24.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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