Deontay Wilder took the same approach on Tuesday as he has for most of the past 17 months—speaking only when he felt it was necessary to be heard. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
The former long-reigning heavyweight champion remained silent throughout Tuesday’s press conference to announce his third fight with England’s Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21KOs), just as he remained mum during the months-long arbitration process to determine whether he was still contractually entitled to a third fight with the Brit.
As the legal process played out, Fury landed in headlines seemingly on a daily basis over ongoing discussion of an undisputed championship showdown with countryman Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22KOs). Fury claimed the WBC belt in a 7th round stoppage of Wilder last February 22 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, while Joshua owns the WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO belts.
Lost in the conversation for months was the fact that arbitration was not going as expected for Fury and his team, who planned on the matter to be resolved quickly and likely in a financial settlement. Meanwhile, Wilder’s team repeatedly declined contact with the media, instead preferring to allow the legal process to play out as the only fight in their sights was a third meeting with Fury.
“I didn’t feel any way about Fury trying to negotiate another fight,” Wilder noted after the press conference, where he barely said anything while on stage. “We knew we were in the right and we knew they couldn’t run.
“Silence is golden.”
An independent arbitration judge ruled in May that Fury was still on the hook to honor the contract clause exercised by Wilder (42-1-1, 41KOs) following their rematch. The repeated delays due to the pandemic were taken into consideration in the judge’s ruling, dismissing the claim from Fury and his side that the contractual terms had expired and that he was free to face whomever he pleased.
Meanwhile, Wilder calmly waited and prepared in his Tuscaloosa home, which he has converted into a training camp setup. His patience paid off, as the former WBC heavyweight titlist has the chance to avenge his lone career defeat in their trilogy meet July 24 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The fight will mark the first time either will enter the ring since their previous meeting, which ended Wilder’s title reign spanning 10 successful defenses over five-plus years.
“I’ve been training non-stop during the pandemic and I’ve been building,” notes Wilder, who also fought to a 12-round draw with Fury in their first meeting in December 2018. “All this time between fights is going to be good for me and bad for him. I’ve had nothing but time to progress.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox