Deontay Wilder’s costumes are as legendary as his knockout punches
Deontay Wilder makes his mark before every fight by slowly marching to the ring masked as a medieval warlord.
In his last fight, he was adorned with a diamond-encrusted crown and a custom armament of Australian gold crystal and Italian creme leather. His garb had 90,000 gems and stones affixed to it. Wilder has the highest knockout ratio of all time in the heavyweight division, and he wants everyone to know through his appearance that he’s the king, resting comfortably atop the division’s throne.
The World Boxing Council champion aims to perform like a Roman god Saturday when he faces Tyson Fury in a rematch at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on a Fox and ESPN+ pay-per-view.
Wilder (42-0-1) will look to one-up his ring walk and land the definitive decision that escaped him the first time he met Fury in a 2018 fight at Staples Center.
Deontay Wilder’s ring entrance before his victory over Luis Ortiz on Nov. 23, 2019.
Wilder was twice on the verge of a knockout in the first fight with Fury, but the British boxer rose from the canvas in the ninth round, then even more miraculously from a crushing left hook in the 12th and final round. The bout ended in a highly disputed split draw — even though Fury mostly outboxed the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and landed 84 punches to 71 for Wilder.
“I can’t wait to walk out, and visualize every step of what I’m about to do to him. ... My mask represents that I’m the emperor of boxing,” Wilder said in an interview that took place soon after he filmed a promotional segment with Fury for Fox’s TV show “The Masked Singer” in Hollywood.
“The mask and my warrior mind-set comes from my people. My mask draws me to my roots and it presents my character,” said Wilder, who has been the WBC champion since 2015. “This is who I am — I am revealing the Bronze Bomber at that moment. When I wear the mask, it makes me feel superior. From the walkouts to the knockouts, it’s a magnificent feeling. I’m always trying to be creative and do something different. I want to make this era of heavyweights the best ever.”
Wilder’s ring walks have become as profound as his punching power.
Outside of the ring, the 6-foot-7 father of eight is considered a gentle giant. In December, Pope Francis named Wilder the Boxers’ Representative and Ambassador for Peace through Sport in a private ceremony in Vatican City.
Inside the ring, there is nothing peaceful about Wilder’s presence. He’s become the scariest heavyweight since Mike Tyson. Last year he said boxing was the only sport “where you can kill a man and get paid for it at the same time.”
“My boxing life is like an open book and I invite people to come in. I’m honest, and I want people to get to know that America has a great boxing champion. I want people to embrace that I’m the greatest right now. Give me my roses now, as I provide service to my greatness,” said Wilder, who lives in Glendora when he’s not training for a fight.
Boxing fans are hoping that Wilder-Fury 2 can help lift the heavyweight division back to relevancy.
“People always say they get their money’s worth when they see me fight. I know how hard it is for consumers to spend money, so I want to put on a show every second.”
Wilder rebranded his body of armor and Spartan soldier exterior beginning with the first Fury fight through Cosmos Glamsquad, a boutique in Los Angeles that specializes in custom street couture.
With the help of his fashion-forward fiancée Telli Swift, Wilder connected with costumiers Cosmo Lombino and Donato Crowley to revamp his image to make a more sinister statement.
All the way up to his first fight with Fury, Wilder traditionally wore a mask that he’d purchased long ago from a Mardi Gras store in Louisiana. For his last three fights, Wilder’s character has been enhanced further each time with Cosmos’ guidance.
The attire for Wilder’s last ring walk against Luis Ortiz in November cost upward of $15,000. By the end of the night, he’d tied Muhammad Ali’s heavyweight record of 10 consecutive title defenses.
For Saturday, Lombino and Crowley are evoking the terror of the 1968 horror movie “The Devil Rides Out,” adding sculptural angles of the fashion house Alexander McQueen. The black leather bodysuit will also have elements from the movie “Tron.” The price tag for the regalia is more than $60,000.
“We’ve created a whole new look for him, and it’s mind blowing,” Crowley said. “We raised the bar three times higher than his last fight.”
“The sky’s the limit of what we can do with Deontay,” said Lombino. “We’ve created something that matches his energy.”
The fight against Fury could define Wilder’s legacy. The 34-year-old from Alabama believes he’s already a Hall of Famer, and he’s adamant that he’ll not only be the best heavyweight ever, but the best boxer, too.
Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) should provide a serious test in what many believe to be an even fight.
Don’t misinterpret top boxing matches being held in many other cities as a sign of the sport abandoning Las Vegas. Sin City remains the world’s fight capital.
“I’m going to knock him out in two rounds,” Fury said. “If I’m going out, I want to go laying out cold on my shield.”
Wilder said he’ll literally nail his counterpart to the canvas this time around to prevent another Fury resurrection.
“It’s going to be a grand moment as soon as I walk in,” Wilder said. “Everything is on the line for this fight. When I beat him, it’s going to mean everything. There will be a winner this time, and it’ll be me with a knockout in devastating fashion.”
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