Heavyweight boxer Deontay Wilder is blaming the heavy costume he wore on Saturday for his shocking TKO loss to Tyson Fury that ended his undefeated streak.
Wilder wore the elaborate outfit — which included a full-face helmet, crown and shoulder and chest pads — as he walked to the ring at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The first match between the two fighters ended in a draw in December 2018, and their highly-anticipated rematch was to decide the WBC heavyweight champion.
While the costume added a bit of flair to the fight (Fury, himself, wore a cape and crown while being carried to the ring on a platform), Wilder found himself in trouble as soon as the match began.
The 34-year-old struggled to keep his balance as Fury landed blow after blow, and by the second round, Wilder had grown visibly exhausted. With Wilder bleeding profusely from his mouth and ear later in the match, his corner stopped the fight in the seventh round, handing the championship win to Fury.
While many boxing fans believed Fury was simply the better fighter, Wilder said he found himself at a disadvantage because he had tired himself out while wearing the heavy costume, which weighed almost 40 pounds.
“He didn’t hurt me at all, but the simple fact is… my uniform was way too heavy for me,” Wilder told Yahoo Sports. “I didn’t have no legs from the beginning of the fight. In the third round, my legs were just shot all the way through.”
Wilder also implied he was “bluffing” during the fight.
“I’m a warrior and people know that I’m a warrior. It could easily be told that I didn’t have legs or anything,” he continued. “A lot of people were telling me, ‘It looked like something was wrong with you.’ Something was, but when you’re in the ring, you have to bluff a lot of things. I tried my best to do so. I knew I didn’t have the legs because of my uniform.”
The costume was meant to pay tribute to Black History Month, Wilder explained.
“I was only able to put it on [for the first time] the night before, but I didn’t think it was going to be that heavy,” he told Yahoo Sports. “It weighed 40, 40-some pounds with the helmet and all the batteries. I wanted my tribute to be great for Black History Month. I wanted it to be good and I guess I put that before anything.”
Wilder confirmed on Monday that he is exercising his right for a third bout against Fury, and even offered the 31-year-old fighter praise for the victory.
“I’m super happy for Tyson Fury and I really want to give him my complete congratulations,” Wilder said of his opponent, who remains undefeated. “He’s had a lot of great accomplishments in his career and this is right there with all of them. I’m very excited about his career and what he has done. He deserves a lot of credit.”