Posted on 02/27/2020
Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone is qualified to give an educated one.
When Lineal Heavyweight champion and newly crowned WBC titlist Tyson Fury destroyed former belt holder Deontay Wilder this past weekend, not only did he begin what could be a lengthy reign for himself, but he also seemingly gave birth to an unprecedented amount of so called pundits as well.
From the moment the two big men entered the ring at the MGM Grand Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada, something just didn’t look right about Wilder. His aggressive come forward style was nowhere to be found. The ridiculous power that has carried him through every single one of his previous fights, seemingly took a vacation on the night.
Wilder looked unsteady, discouraged and unsure of himself all night long. Words that are never usually associated with the former champion. During the few moments in which he was able to mount a bit of offense, not much of it was mustered. The right hand landed, but it looked ordinary.
Throughout the entire career of Wilder, his skills have always looked normal. Maybe even subpar, but his power has always carried him through. But not on this night.
With Wilder unable to land anything of note all night, he was essentially helpless as Fury sent him down to the canvas on two separate occasions before his corner ultimately ended the bout in the seventh.
Fans around the globe instantly became boxing experts. Many believed that nothing was wrong with Wilder, while simultaneously heaping praise on Fury for being the much better boxer on the night.
Taking away credit from what Fury was able to accomplish would be unfair, but it would also be unjust if the obvious signs of Wilder having more than just a bad night went unmentioned.
The opinions of those who were watching the fight from the sidelines are always welcomed. But the viewpoints of those who have actually stepped inside of the ring and competed at the highest level is even more so.
Throughout the entire history of boxing, not many can compare to the insight that former Heavyweight champion and hall of fame boxer Larry Holmes can provide.
During a recent interview with Boxing Insider Radio, Holmes stopped by to give the crew a bit of his time and insight on what went wrong for Wilder on the night. The usually soft spoken Holmes held absolutely nothing back.
“Wilder didn’t train properly or he overtrained because he had no energy,” said Holmes on Boxing Insider Radio. “He has guys working with him in his corner that still need to take lessons in boxing. He got Mark Breland in his corner but he’s not really telling him what to do. Mark knew how to fight but he never fought at Heavyweight, he fought little guys. So I hold that against him. There’s a lot of things that I thought he should have done but he didn’t do it.”
The criticism of Breland was a harsh one from Holmes, but it was only the tip of the iceberg.
“Mark Breland needs to learn how to teach people. He didn’t put any water on top of his head to keep him cool. Wilder is bleeding out of his ear and he didn’t put anything in there to get the blood out of there. Wilder probably had an equilibrium problem because of it. Just nobody was telling him anything.”
Unlike most critics who have nothing else to provide other than hollow words, Holmes was a former champion that is universally recognized as one of the best to ever do it.
Not only did Holmes cast blame on Wilder and his team, but he also gave his opinion on the adjustments that Wilder should make going forward.
“I would tell him hey man you got to jab, he doesn’t know how to jab. At one point I was trying to teach him how to jab when he was here but he never learned. He’s got to learn how to throw punches and just get the guy out of there. Most importantly he can’t overtrain because if you look at the fight he was tired after the second or third round.”
Something as simplistic as jabing is what Holmes built his career on. The overtraining comments are also an interesting point. Wilder did in fact come out flat at the very beginning of the contest and was seemingly out of gas from the moment he threw his very first punch. Holmes attributes those issues to over training, while Wilder on the other hand believes his pre fight costume was too much for his willowy body.
The 40 pound tribute to black history month was an eye catcher. If there was any way to make Wilder even more intimidating than he actually is, then he certainly found it. Yet, as soon as the mask, robe, chest plate and batteries (yes it was battery operated) was removed from his body, he was a shell of his former self.
Recently, Wilder revealed that the costume was far too heavy. When considering the long wait for Fury to make his way to the ring along with his own ring walk which included a rapper reciting several verses before Wilder even made it to the isle, Wilder sauntered his way to the ring with nothing left.
Coming from a fighter who used absolutely no excuses for his own shortcomings in the ring, Holmes has plugged both ears as if to shield himself from Wilder’s unnecessary explanation.
“I don’t want to hear that. When I fought all of these guys I won because I threw the right punches. How many jabs did he throw? He didn’t throw any. If you go back and look at the tapes of when I fought Ernie Shavers, Ken Norton and all of the guys that I fought, I didn’t stay there to get hit with the punches. These guys take the punches to prove what? That you’re tough? No you’re not tough. You’re tough when you win and win and win.”
Win, win, win was something that Holmes did a lot of over his nearly 30 year career. The hall of famer does after all hold the third most title defenses in Heavyweight boxing history with 20 consecutive.
Wilder, on the other hand, was going for his 11th.
For as great as Holmes was during his career, he dealt with plenty of setbacks of his own.
Much like Wilder who not only dressed himself in a ridiculous 40 pound costume, he also wore a cloak of invincibility. Holmes lost his own edge and illusion of indestructibility after starting his career 48-0. Back to back losses to Michael Spinks sent Holmes into a temporary retirement. Once he made his way back to the ring, he was quickly sent back to his retirement home at the hands of some guy named Mike Tyson.
After three years away from the sport, Holmes once again came back and this time, fought his way to becoming a legitimate title contender. His story sounds almost fairytale like. But Wilder’s tale is a bit different.
There isn’t exactly a clear direction in which the former champion can go. The only other champion that he could set his eyes upon is Anthony Joshua. But with two mandatories and a long list of other contenders, that contest seems doubtful.
Even if boxing was deprived of politics and streets that separated fighters, a contest between Wilder and Joshua would be doubtful. Not because Joshua wouldn’t agree to it, but more so because of the fashion in which he was dominated.
Losses aren’t difficult to come back from. Everyone loses. But not everyone gets their butt kicked.
With Wilder already enforcing his immediate rematch against Fury, Holmes has just one question. Why?
“No, third fight for what?”
For what? Revenge of course.
At this point, revenge seems virtually impossible as Wilder, Joshua and every other Heavyweight seems ill-equipped to deal with Fury. But how about Holmes?
No, at age 70 he won’t be making his fifth comeback to the ring. But if he was in his prime, there’s no doubt how a dream match would have played out between them.
“I would’ve knocked Fury out. I would’ve hit him in the body, head then circled around. Hit him with right hands and left hooks. I ain’t going to stand there and trade with him like Wilder did.”
No matter the sport, it always seems as though athletes of the past will always be incredulous to believe that the new generation could compete with their own. Things were harder in their time wasn’t it? The competition was stiffer and things were never handed to them. To ask Holmes the question of how the competition of today stacks up against his own, isn’t much of a question at all.
“It ain’t no match. You think Ernie Shavers would have been out there and quit? Muhammad Ali would quit? No. Joe Frazier quit? No. Kenny Norton would quit? No. None of those guys would quit. They would fight you until you ain’t got no fight left in you. But Wilder quit. He quit because his ears were bleeding.”
Do what you want to a boxer. Push him down a flight of stairs, stab him with a kitchen knife or shove him out of a moving car. Any of the above would be appropriate. Just don’t call them a quitter.
Still, Holmes doubled down on his quitting statement.
“He wanted to quit. He didn’t want to go anymore. He quit man. The guy quit.”
The harsh take of the former champion didn’t stop with criticism of this new generation of boxers. It also extended to his own as well.
“Lennox Lewis should have never quit boxing, he should be Heavyweight champion right now. But he doesn’t have any heart.”
For now, it doesn’t seem as though Holmes will be backing down from any of statements, no matter how much push back he receives from the public. The former champion seems to carry much of that same fire that helped him carve a hall of fame level career.
If Wilder wants to quiet his doubters, including Holmes, then there is only thing that he has to do.
Beat Tyson Fury.
Boxing Insider Radio continues to bring boxing fans the sort of coverage that they need. With weekly guest stopping by the show to give their take on the state of boxing, make sure that you don’t miss the the conversation. The show airs every Tuesday and is available on iTunes, Spotify and on of course on Boxinginsider.com.