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Deontay Wilder decision blamed for horrific career downfall

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Deontay Wilder saw his career come crashing down on Saturday night in Saudi Arabia, but one decision years ago ultimately sowed the seed.

Following his rematch defeat to Tyson Fury in February 2020, Wilder’s choice to fire Mark Breland and later remove Jay Deas from his corner contributed to a horrific run over four years, according to some fellow professionals and fans. Hiring Malik Scott, a heavyweight he himself knocked out in 96 seconds, Wilder never improved. The most likely scenario is that he declined as he chose to be around a friend rather than a top coach.

After a devastating knockout against Zhilei Zhang on the 5 vs 5 super-card, the inquest began with many baffled by Wilder’s continued faith in his trainer despite poor form.

Jamel Herring said: “I’m convinced Malik Scott was setting Wilder up after their matchup ten years ago and found the perfect opportunity!”

Mykal Fox added: “Malik Scott is a big part of Wilder’s downfall. He meant well, but he didn’t help Wilder improve. He actually might’ve made him worse.”

Fans also made their feelings clear on Scott.

One stated: Time to hang it up. Malik Scott is the worst thing that happened to Wilder.”

Another added: “Somebody said a while back [and I completely agree] that Scott basically just took Wilder and turned him into Malik Scott.”

A third said: “Malik Scott turned him from a come forward power puncher who used his only quality attribute effectively into a back foot fighter who doesn’t throw his right hand anymore. He exposed all his weaknesses and obvious flaws. A terrible appointment.”

The pick of the bunch outlined: “That second Fury loss took everything Wilder had. But honestly, it’s clear he was never as good as we all hoped. Leaving Mark Breland was a career-altering decision. Malik Scott is the worst trainer at the world-class heavyweight level.”

On a detractor questioning whether Wilder was ever elite, a final comment stated: “I disagree was definitely a top three heavyweight [before 2020]. His wins vs Luis Ortiz are underrated. The switch to Malik Scott destroyed his career, taking away things that made Wilder great.”

Wilder bulldozed his way through the boxing ranks, amassing an unreal record of 32-0 and knocking every fighter out within four rounds. He then won the WBC title with a decision win over Bermane Stiverne before continuing his knockout exploits, including a first-round demolition of his former foe in a rematch.

Tyson Fury began the rot in a draw that should have been Wilder’s first defeat in 2018. From then on, Wilder won only once in five and a half years despite a Fight of the Year effort against Fury when he abandoned his backfoot tactics in 2021.

Read all articles and exclusive interviews by Phil Jay. Learn more about the author, experienced boxing writer, and World Boxing News Editor since 2010. Follow on Twitter @PhilJWBN.