Wilder's Corner Throwing The Towel

Mark Breland did the right thing.

Jim Rome
February 24, 2020 - 10:46 am
Deontay Wilder

USA Today

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As good a night as that was for Tyson Fury, it was that awful for Deontay Wilder. And then some. Absolutely nothing worked for Wilder on Saturday night. He got worked. It was about as one-sided a rematch of a draw as you can imagine. He was never really in the fight. 

Fury stepped to him, controlled the space, controlled the ring, closed him down, and never gave him a chance to get into the fight. And wasn’t afraid to use his 273 pounds in the clinch and make Wilder hold him up. 

Fury wasn’t just the better boxer on Saturday night, he was the better and more powerful puncher. That was clear from the first round and it only got worse for Wilder.

After the fight, Wilder made reference to the fact that he "had a lot of things going on heading into this fight." I’m not sure what he meant by that, but I’m also pretty certain, whatever it was, didn’t matter. He wasn’t beating that version of Fury, that night. Period.

Because Fury never let Wilder get into a rhythm. Never got the space or the looks that he wanted. And just stayed after Wilder from bell to bell. He took away his legs and sapped him of his strength.

Wilder looked like he was in deep from the second round on. And from the time Wilder went down in the third round, it had the feeling of a night where Wilder’s only chance to win was to land a miracle shot; a shot that simply was not coming. 

And by the fifth, he was in real danger; not of the losing the fight; that was already a given: but in real danger of being in real danger. Of possibly being seriously hurt. At that point, Fury’s is just taking unnecessary punishment because he’s unable to defend himself and incapable of landing any meaningful shots. And that continued on into the seven when Fury continued to do damage and Wilder couldn’t’ get off the ropes:

And that’s when assistant trainer Mark Breland threw in the towel.

And as you might surmise, Wilder wasn’t happy about that. 

I get it. I get why he’d be angry and upset about that. A lot of fighters would be pissed in that situation. He is extremely proud. He did not want someone to end that fight for him.  He didn’t want to go out like that. He wanted to go out like a warrior. 

But going out like a warrior can have a terrible impact on your career and more importantly on your life. 

Going out on your shield is a figure of speech, but if that had gone on much longer, he would’ve gone out on a stretcher. Or even worse, in a pine box. Because, that’s the kind of beating he was taking. 

But Wilder wasn’t the only guy in his camp who was angry about the towel. His head trainer, Jay Deas was as well. And wanted everyone to know that it was Mark Breland, not him, who threw in the towel.

“Mark threw in the towel. I didn’t think he should have. Deontay’s the kind of guy who is a go-out-on-his-shield kind of guy. He will tell you straight up, ‘Don’t throw the towel in.’ In fact, in the dressing room, when Tyson was getting his hands wrapped, in one of the earlier fights on the screen which they showed in the locker room, they had a guy who got stopped. And we were like, ‘Stop the fight. Stop the fight.’ And right when the ref stopped the fight, the towel came in. And Tyson looked at his people and said, ‘Never,’ like that.

“And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s the same kinda guy that Deontay is.’ He does not want that. And then you’ve always got to consider also that Deontay is a fearsome puncher. So that’s always a difficult thing because he always has that shot to land a big shot and turn things around. So, that’s what happened there. But Deontay is doing well and he’ll be back. He’ll be all the better for it.”

Let’s be clear: if he is all the better for it, it’ll be because Breland threw in the towel, not in spite of it.

Deas said Wilder could’ve turned that fight around. That is incredible faith and confidence in your fighter. I respect that. You know what I respect even more? Breland for throwing in the towel.  

Because it’s not just about having blind faith in your fighter, it’s about caring for him as well. And making sure there is a next fight. Of course, Wilder wanted to continue.  Almost every fighter does. That’s why it’s up to the corner and the ref to protect the fighter from himself: to protect the fighter when he’s no longer capable of defending himself.  Because Wilder wasn’t. And he was taking hellish punishment that could have long term detrimental effects, in a fight he had absolutely no shot of winning. And had Breland not acted the way he did, when he did, Wilder may have ended up losing a helluva more than his belt.

And Save the argument that Wilder can end any fight at any time with that right hand. On most nights, yes. But not this past Saturday. 

That wasn’t his night. He wasn’t the better fighter. He knew it. Fury knew it. Everyone knew it. And that Hail Mary shot wasn’t coming. Because he didn’t have the power necessary to throw it; didn’t have the energy or legs to load and land it: and whatever he did have left, even if he could land it, wasn’t moving a 273 pound Fury off his spot. 

Hell….By the seventh round, just standing up was a major accomplishment. Most people, even most fighters, would’ve been done by then. Wilder wasn’t a threat to anyone at that point, only to himself.  

Breland knew it, the ref knew it, the whole world knew it. Breland throwing in the towel wasn’t quitting, it was being realistic. It was being smart. And it was being courageous. That took guts. It would’ve been reckless for Breland and the rest of the corner to do nothing. 

It’s the corner’s job to protect him when he can’t protect himself. That’s exactly what Breland did. He should be praised for that, not bashed for it. I get that Wilder might be pissed, but it was the right call and Breland was the one who made it. Better to have wounded pride, than a damaged brain; and instead of cracking Breland, Wilder should be thanking him. And in time, he probably will. But that was absolutely the right all by Breland. 

Deontay Wilder was done. Another shot or two, and Wilder was looking at living the rest of his life with significant brain damage. He was shot. It was Wilder’s job to fight, and it was Breland’s job to protect him, and he did.