EXCLUSIVE: Deontay Wilder trainer Malik Scott discusses comeback plan
Malik Scott is Deontay Wilder’s trainer, but they are also close friends and speak multiple times per day on the phone, so Scott promised himself that for at least a little while following Wilder’s loss to Tyson Fury in their third fight, he would not discuss boxing with the former heavyweight titlist.
But Scott just hasn’t been able to help himself, and Wilder is OK with that.
“I planned on not talking about boxing with him, but Deontay is such a warrior, such a natural fighter, that he’s already plotting and planning the same way he did after the (second) fight against Fury,” Scott exclusively told World Boxing News in a recent interview. “His whole thing is to get right back, and my whole thing is I’m telling him is not only should you rest, it’s a deserved rest.
“After the fight, I kept telling people Deontay’s gonna rest. I don’t want to talk about boxing with him, and I’m not even going to bring boxing up. But after the fight, I’d call him like 2-3 in the morning, wake him up and talk to him about new drills I have for him, new stuff we have to work on. I’m like, ‘Bro, I got these drills, we gonna do this when we get back. You’re gonna be two-time heavyweight champion. It just didn’t happen for us on the night, but, bro, you won a whole lot of glory.’
“I said I wouldn’t talk to him about boxing for a bit, and then the minute I go look at the fight, I call him immediately with no consideration for the time. We laughed about it.”
Scott said Wilder is gung ho about a comeback fight, probably next spring, and is in good spirits following his 11th-round knockout loss to Fury on Oct. 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in their epic rematch that will go down as an all-time great heavyweight title fight and is the clear front runner for fight of the year.
“Deontay said he’s going to go on vacation, and I’m all for that, and in a few months, we’ll be back in camp, and he’ll be fighting,” Scott said.
Wilder knocked Fury down twice in the fourth round, but Fury dropped Wilder three times in the third, 10th, and 11th for the knockout.
Scott said Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs), 36, has since had surgery to repair a broken bone in his power right hand and plans to go on vacation in the next couple of weeks. But before that, Scott, who lives in Los Angeles, said he is going to visit Wilder next week, either at his home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, or at a home Wilder has in Atlanta.
“I’m going down there just to spend some time with him,” Scott, 41, said.
Part of the reason for the trip is their friendship. But part of it has to do with what he learned from the late, great trainer Emanuel Steward, who was one of Scott’s mentors during his 2000 to 2016 professional heavyweight boxing career in which he went 38-3-1 with 13 knockouts and suffered a first-round knockout loss to Wilder in 2014.
“One thing I learned off of Emanuel Steward when he was here is he used to tell me, ‘Malik, whenever it is you become a trainer, don’t get caught up in everything being physical.’ He said, ‘I teach a lot of my guys, not just physical things but after training, even when it’s out of camp time. You got to call your guys, you got to do film study, you got to keep boxing as an educational thing that’s constantly going on in their life,'” Scott said.
“So, I always keep that in mind. That’s where the spirit of me not being able to stop talking about boxing comes from. I remember I used to watch Emanuel and Lennox (Lewis). They’d be done training at four, and him and Emanuel would talk from 4 to at least 5:30 just talking about sparring, talking about fights, comparing styles. And I took that ever since Manny told me that, and I always said I would implement that when I became a trainer, and it just so happens I’m Deontay’s trainer, and I’m really going overboard with the dialogue of boxing.
“That’s why I believe he’s adapted because when he was training with Mark (Breland), once they were done training in the gym, boxing was over. The minute I took on the job, I said that’s a problem. This is a lifestyle.”
Scott, who was a longtime assistant in Wilder’s camp, was promoted to head trainer for the third Fury fight after Wilder fired co-trainer Breland and demoted co-trainer Jay Deas to an assistant position.
Scott has built his training philosophy from what he learned from Steward, whom he got to know well when he spent time in then-heavyweight champion Lewis’ training camps.
“When I was training with Lennox, Manny would just pop up at my hotel room and say, ‘what’s going on with you, what fights you been looking at? I want you to look at this because I want you to try this with Lennox tomorrow (in sparring). He’s bigger and stronger and much more experienced, and he’s gonna hurt you, but I need you to try these certain things,'” Scott said. “And we would just talk about boxing. Lennox used to really show me tough, tough love in that ring. Manny talked boxing all the time. He did it with me; he did it with Johnathon Banks.”
Once Wilder’s hand is healed, and he’s had a vacation and enjoyed the holidays, Scott said he expects they will return to camp soon after the new year.
“We should be back in camp, in my opinion, no later than March and fight in May. Or we may be back in camp before March. It all depends on how he recovers, how he’s feeling, how everything’s going,” Scott said.
While Wilder’s return fight likely won’t be for a world title, Scott said he expects it to be against a solid opponent.
“With Deontay, obviously, the first fight back is not going to be at the level that he just left. We have to do things the right way,” Scott said. “But at the same time, we can’t go much lower than that because he’s a high entertainment revenue fighter. He’s big-time boxing. We have to give him a threat because Deontay gets up for threats.
“Obviously, it won’t be a Fury level, but it won’t be somebody down in the bucket. We’re not going to get somebody with a record of 27-11. That’s not happening. It has to be a name that fans have heard of.”
Deontay Wilder is affiliated with Premier Boxing Champions, which has several heavyweights in its stable, including former titleholders Andy Ruiz and Charles Martin, among others.
“I will have a huge say so in the next opponent,” Scott said. “When I say I will have a huge say so I mean me and Deontay will converse about it, me and (manager) Shelly (Finkel), because we’re coming off a very, very tough fight with Fury, so the next one I want it to be a threat, but I want it to be a suitable threat. I want it to be someone that keeps him alert, that keeps him on point. Deontay can’t wait to continue to learn, and that means the world to me because he’s extremely receptive.
“He respects me to the utmost. He loves me. When we’re in the gym, it’s brotherhood, but it’s f—— work. I’m not taking no s— and he has no problem with me not taking no s—.”
Scott said the one area he wants to see Wilder improve on is defense.
“We were very irresponsible defensively,” Scott said of Fury III. “We just have to continue to drill defensively. Were we working on defense in camp? Tons. Is that going to show in the first fight (together)? Absolutely not. Could he have been more defensively responsible? Hell yeah, and I can’t wait to get on his case in camp about it. There’s a lot to work on, and he’s receptive to it.”
TYSON FURY vs. DEONTAY WILDER III
Putting his trainer hat aside for a moment, Scott said he has watched Fury-Wilder III back and loved it.
“It was so good. It was such a good fight,” Scott said. “Deontay would be out on his feet, and I knew we had clipped Fury. Then Fury would come back, and then he would knock Fury down, and Fury would get up. There were certain shots Fury was hitting Deontay with that he was on fumes. He caught Deontay with a shot one time from the blindside, and Deontay took that shot and continued to fight.
“Fury continued to come forward. I’ve never seen a gutsy balls trilogy at that level in the heavyweight division. That was a real battle of the giants. Before the fight, I called Fury a very, very good fighter. After the fight, I gave him his credit and called him a great fighter because he beat a great fighter.”
Scott was glad to see that after Wilder initially refused to congratulate Fury for winning in the ring right after the fight, he came around and posted his congratulations to Fury on social media. Scott also said there won’t be any excuses or accusations toward Fury like Wilder made following a knockout loss in their February 2020 rematch.
“Deontay made no excuses. Fury won, and life goes on. That’s just how it was,” Scott said of fight No. 3. “He had no excuses.
“The whole conversation is on to the next, life goes on. One or two fights, and we’re right back in position and let’s get to work. That’s Deontay’s mentality.”