Star clothier in Wilder's corner
By Robert Ecksel on February 26, 2020
The referee Kenny Bayless got blamed. His infractions are endless. (Steve Marcus/Reuters)
Former WBC heavyweight champion Wilder is cleaning house after his corner made a mess of things. Saturday’s whooping by Tyson Fury won’t go away anytime soon. If Wilder had been knocked out he would have missed the bout’s conclusion and perhaps been fortunate. But there was a screw-up as big as they come. Someone has to pay. The first head to roll belongs to his assistant trainer, Mark Breland, who threw in the towel against Wilder’s wishes, who denied him the right to go out on his shield. Other heads may follow.
“I understand he was looking out for me and trying to do what he felt was right,” Wilder told Yahoo! Sports, “but this is my life and my career and he has to accept my wishes.
“I’m upset with Mark for the simple fact that we’ve talked about this many times and it’s not emotional. It’s not an emotional thing, it’s a principal thing. We’ve talked about this situation many, many years before this even happened. I said as a warrior, as a champion, as a leader, as a ruler, I want to go out on my shield.”
I’m a sucker for that gladiator stuff. The sun and sand, the togas and sandals, the swords and blood and gore—it’s just a hop, skip and jump from the Colosseum in Rome to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Boxing today may not have improved all that much on the original, but the sport has cleaned up its act over the centuries and at times even flirts, with a nod, wink and elbow to the ribs, with respectability.
“So,” added Wilder, “I told my team to never, ever, no matter what it may look like, to never throw the towel in with me because I’m a special kind. I still had five rounds left. No matter what it looked like, I was still in the fight.”
Wilder should watch the fight a few times after he cools down. He might see things differently. In the meantime he’s busy blaming everyone within shouting distance for the defeat. Fury got blamed because he’s supposedly a dirty fighter. The referee Kenny Bayless got blamed. His infractions are endless. The weighty monstrosity Wilder wore during his ring walk and into the ring, his nutty tribute to Black History Month, also got blamed for messing with his legs.
“Going up the stairs [into the ring] I knew immediately it was a different change in my body condition,” he said. “After the second round, I had no legs. He didn’t hurt me at all, but the simple fact is ... that my uniform was way too heavy for me, period.”
Wilder looked like a Marvel villain. It was hard to tell if he was supposed to be God or Satan, or someone who spiked the city’s water supply with LSD. Wilder’s full body getup included a full face mask adorned with horns and sequins. Built-in batteries lit up the mask when he entered the ring. The sucker weighed 40 pounds.
The costume’s creators, Cosmo + Donato, have avoided incoming fire. They spoke with Wilder by phone. He said he doesn’t blame them. In fact he wants them to design his next masquerade, for a third fight with Tyson Fury, possibly in the summer.
Until I saw Wilder dressed like an extraterrestrial in a malarial fever dream, I was unfamiliar with Cosmo + Donato. I had seen their work before, unknowingly, during prior Wilder ring walks, but never had a name to blame for the costumery. Their website says, “Cosmo + Donato is unisex street-couture that explores avant-garde and retrogressive design concepts.” If those are its objectives, it has reached its goal. Cosmo + Donato have a flourishing online presence, and Cosmos Glamsquad is a boutique in Los Angeles. Shawn Porter and Claressa Shields have shopped there. So has Shaquille O’Neal. God knows who you might bump into.
“Deontay Wilder called,” said either Cosmo + / or Donato. “We had an extensive, honest conversation that put the confusion and rumors to rest.
“Reiterating that he considers us as ‘family,’ Deontay was very clear that he looks forward to future collaborations.”
It’s good to know that Wilder’s loyalties extend in some directions.