The heavy punches that Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury expect to throw Saturday night were preceded Wednesday with loaded words and a confrontation that nearly became physical.
At the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, Wilder and Fury went nose to nose to close the buildup at their news conference for Saturday’s World Boxing Council heavyweight title fight at Staples Center.
The tension heightened toward the close of their remarks when Fury suggested Wilder is barely above anonymous in the U.S., despite being a heavyweight champion.
Wilder (40-0, 39 knockouts) then revisited Fury’s 2015 upset triumph by decision over long-reigning heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and said, “You didn’t beat Klitschko. Klitschko beat himself. Klitschko didn’t throw punches. You’ve got a different beast in the ring. You’ll see … .”
When the pair met for the staredown before cameras, Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) reached for Wilder’s throat and the rage ignited, with Fury ultimately stripping off his designer shirt to hold up his fists in a boxer's pose.
“I ain’t worried about who knows me or not,” Wilder told reporters after calm was restored on stage. “If they don’t know me, that’s fine with me because it means he got knocked out by an unknown.”
Wilder also railed at what he perceives as the unequal treatment of Fury’s frailties versus how those same demons would be handled if the afflicted were a black man. Fury has battled drug addiction and mental illness.
Wilder roared on stage that Fury had no right to complain how his traveling community in England has been discriminated against for 200 years when America has treated blacks so poorly for double that.
Wilder said the scene became so heated because of “the energy, the emotion, all the buildup … I’ve seen this guy so many times and this is the time I transform. My mind-set is different. I’m not here to play around and play games or make jokes or make friends.
“He wants to entertain the U.S. crowd for giving him so much love for the mental illness and all that … [Fury] caused all that ... himself. You took all that ... up your nose, you lifted that bottle. [Fury] did it on his own will because he wanted to have fun, because he accomplished something big in his life, to say, ‘I ain’t going to give a ….’ So he sniffed it. So he drinks it.”
The perceived double standard inflamed Wilder, he said.