Boxing

Deontay Wilder’s dad wants trainer fired after loss to Zihei Zhang adds to boxer’s struggles

Deontay Wilder's dad wants trainer fired after loss to Zihei Zhang adds to boxer's struggles

Deontay Wilder looks on after being knocked down by Zhilei Zhang during their heavyweight fight on June 1, 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Deontay Wilder’s father said he has advice for the boxer following his devastating, fifth-round knockout loss to Zhihei Zhang.

Fire your trainer.

Malik Scott was friends with Deontay Wilder before taking over as his trainer in 2021. Since then, the former WBC heavyweight champion is 1-3.

“You need somebody you’re going to respect,’’ Gary Wilder told USA TODAY Sports. “You don’t need a buddy to train you.”

Though Deontay Wilder, 38, indicated he would give retirement serious consideration if he lost to Zhang, Gary Wilder said “it’s not too late for (Deontay). I believe he got several good years left.’’

Shelly Finkel, Deontay Wilder’s co-manager, told USA TODAY Sports by text that “we really have nothing to say.’’ He later said Gary Wilder is not involved in Deontay Wilder’s boxing career.

Gary Wilder said he has seen his son less since Scott replaced Mark Breland. But he said he attended Deontay’s third fight against Tyson Fury in 2021 at his son’s request — Deontay Wilder’s mother confirmed that — and spent time in training camp before his son’s fight against Joseph Parker in December 2023.

Scott, when asked about Gary Wilder’s comments, replied by text, “… who is Gary?” He later added, “No comment.”

During the four-fight stretch working with Scott, Deontay Wilder has lost to Fury by knockout, to Joseph Parker by unanimous decision and to Zhang by knockout. His lone win was a first-round knockout against Robert Helenius.

Gary Wilder said his biggest beef with Scott is his attempt to develop Deontay Wilder into more of a traditional boxer.

“Deontay’s always been a slugger,’’ Gary Wilder said. “Now Malik’s trying to train him to be a boxer, and if you look at it, you’ll see that Deontay is not comfortable where he at. As long as he tries to be a boxer, he’s not going to win.

“That’s the bottom line.’’

Gary Wilder said he has not communicated with Deontay Wilder since the fight Saturday in Saudi Arabia, but that he plans to share his advice when they talk next.

Deontay Wilder’s record stands at 43-4-1 with 42 knockouts, one of which came against Scott. In 2014, Wilder knocked out Scott in the first round.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Deontay Wilder’s dad shares blunt advice for boxer after KO loss

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