Deontay Wilder in luck as third fight vs. Tyson Fury postponed until late 2020

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist

A weekly look at boxing’s hottest topics.

Pandemic delays Fury vs. Wilder 3

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown boxing into disarray, with cards canceled and postponed, and the sport has ground to a screeching halt.

In an odd way, though, it may wind up benefiting former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Wilder was stopped by Tyson Fury in the seventh round of their Feb. 22 rematch at the MGM Grand Garden in a surprisingly one-sided performance. Fury dominated and Wilder wasn’t competitive from the earliest moments.

Wilder hadn’t left his dressing room on Feb. 22 when he’d made up his mind that he’d exercise his rematch clause and face Fury for the WBC heavyweight championship a third time. Initially, it was supposed to be in July but was quickly pushed to Oct. 3, though at that time not because of the pandemic. On Tuesday, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum told Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix the fight has been postponed yet again.

Given how much punishment Wilder took in that last fight, the longer he has to recover, the better. 

Wilder has taken a low profile since his first career loss, but the former WBC champion appeared on “The Premier Boxing Champions Podcast” earlier this week with Kenneth Bouharie and Michael Rosenthal and reiterated that there was never a doubt he’d take the third match.

“Why [would] I not want [the rematch]?” Wilder said. “You know, like I said, at this moment in time, you know, we’re just sitting back. It’s gonna be a time and place where I’m ready to come out. It’s gonna be a time and place where I say what I need to say. You know, but looking at the fight, he knows that wasn’t me. I know that wasn’t me and the people in boxing, everyone knows that wasn’t the real Deontay Wilder. Something was wrong with him, and you know, we will show. Like I said, there’s a time and place for it all, and I’ll reveal a lot of things.”

Whatever he plans to reveal will be interesting. But history has shown that when a fighter loses and is roughed up like Wilder was, the best thing he can do is to take time off and let his body heal. He also revealed on the podcast that he had surgery on his biceps

Tyson Fury, of England, lands a right to Deontay Wilder during their WBC heavyweight championship boxing match Feb. 22, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

Fury’s style is always going to be difficult for Wilder, but Wilder proved in that first fight that A) he can be competitive and B) he has the power to end the bout with one shot.

It is a healthy, fit and fully recovered Wilder who would have the best opportunity to do that. But with so much uncertainty about when sports will resume and when fans will be allowed to attend, the delay was inevitable. Every second of delay benefits Wilder, who can work on changes in his game and whose body will be able to recover from that beating he absorbed.

Mayweather in the gym

Every few months, Floyd Mayweather Jr. turns up at his gym in the shadow of the famed Las Vegas Strip to hit the bag, perhaps doing a little sparring or some other boxing-related work.

Predictably, it sends the internet into a frenzy.

Mayweather turned 43 on Feb. 24 and hasn’t fought since stopping ex-UFC champion Conor McGregor in the 10th round of an Aug. 26, 2017, bout. He hasn’t fought a boxer since Sept. 12, 2015, when he defeated Andre Berto.

Given Mayweather’s ability to sell pay-per-views and tickets, it would be a dream for anyone who would be connected for him to actually return.

Never say never, but as someone who has watched this play out for years, I’d say this is just Floyd having a little fun. He loves the spotlight and loves being able to keep his name in the headlines. Remember, on the morning of the 2018 rematch between Gennadiy Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, Mayweather released a video of himself in Japan speaking to Manny Pacquiao, stealing some spotlight from the fight and sparking rumors of a rematch.

Mayweather is also a fitness buff and going to his gym and working out is a way for him to get a good workout in, especially when he’s enjoying the high life.

In addition, Mayweather has endured several personal tragedies this year. Josie Harris, the mother of three of his four children, was found dead. Then, his uncle and former trainer, Roger Mayweather, also died. And his daughter, Ayanna, was arrested in Houston on charges she stabbed a woman.

It’s a lot to deal with, even for the famously focused Mayweather.

He could fight again, but if I had to guess, I’d bet against it.

Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) knocked out Zora Folley in the seventh round at Madison Square Garden on March 22, 1967. (AP Photo)

Ali stripped 53 years ago today

On April 28, 1967, Muhammad Ali was officially stripped of the heavyweight championship for refusing induction into the military. His license was pulled and he began a three-year exodus from the sport he had dominated.

It took a Supreme Court ruling in his favor to get him back into the game. Ali had knocked out Zora Folley in the seventh round at Madison Square Garden on March 22, 1967, in the ninth defense of the title he’d won from Sonny Liston in 1964.

Ali didn’t fight again until Oct. 26, 1970, when he stopped Jerry Quarry in three rounds in Atlanta. While Ali would go on to win the title two more times after his return and had seven wins over men who would make the International Boxing Hall of Fame, he was never close to the same fighter as he was prior to being stripped.

Naoya Inoue’s Vegas debut on hold

Naoya “The Monster” Inoue was supposed to have fought John Riel Casimero in a bantamweight unification bout at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on Saturday, one of many fights that has fallen victim to the coronavirus pandemic.

Inoue is already one of the best fighters in the world and Top Rank has big plans for him, hoping to turn him into a star in the U.S. He has the style for it, as well as the personal charisma.

But promoter Bob Arum told BoxingScene’s Keith Idec this week that because of the coronavirus, Inoue can’t fight in the U.S., and so Casimero may fight Joshua Greer instead.

“I talked to Mr. [Akihiko] Honda and Inoue’s people from Japan [on Thursday],” Arum said. “We’re thinking of bringing him over to the United States. The problem we have, of course, is the travel ban. Can we get a Japanese fighter into the country under these circumstances? I don’t know. Right now, what we’re concentrating on is American fighters or foreign fighters who are here in the United States. That way, we don’t have to worry about bringing them in from abroad for the fights we can do in the beginning.”

Casimero, who is part of Manny Pacquiao’s team, is training in Las Vegas.

But Sean Gibbons, the head of MP Promotions, said Casimero isn’t interested in Greer and wants to hold out for the Inoue fight. A former Top Rank employee, Gibbons is close with Pacquiao and has great influence over Casimero, so stay tuned on that.

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