This past weekend combat sports fans may have felt like they were in a magical world where an abundance of great fights across different platforms was readily available with the switch of a channel. Firstly with the UFC was in Auckland, New Zealand, while Bellator was in both Dublin and in Oklahoma, and we finished things off with the WBC Heavyweight Championship of the world being on the line in Las Vegas, Nevada.
We were treated to a variety of amazing fights, shocking outcomes, and saw “The King” Tyson Fury crowned after a dominant 7th Round TKO of the previously undefeated Deontay Wilder. One thing I would like to pinpoint a glaring difference between what we saw out of the corners in two separate fights, events, and sports. In Aukland, we saw former Strawweight title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz picked apart from start to finish by Yan Xiaonan.
In the first round, the Polish Princess continually had her head snapped back with left jabs, right crosses, and a mix of head kicks. Following RD1, she was repeatedly reaching to her right eye to the point that we saw the doctor come in to check on her between rounds. Throughout rounds 2 and 3, we again saw the right eye of Kowalkiewicz cause her major issues as she struggled to as much as use her right hand for anything other than protecting her eye. We saw a fighter who was clearly at a medical disadvantage, who was putting forth next to no offense, and yet we saw her corner continue to put ice on her and send her right back to the center of the octagon for more. This, to me, showed an obvious lapse in judgment and lack of care for her from her corner. “For the first time in my life after a fight, I cannot say I’m okay,” Kowalkiewicz said in an Instagram post before revealing she did, in fact, breaking her orbital bone in that first round.
On the opposite of this spectrum was the biggest boxing match since Tyson vs. Lewis. The WBC Heavyweight title was at stake, and yet at the highest of stakes, we saw a corner do what they are supposed to do, protect their fighter. In what we now know was a disagreement in the corner, Wilder’s co-trainer Mark Breland threw in the towel. He had seen enough over the previous six rounds to know that his fighter had had enough much to the chagrin of Jay Deas the other co-trainer of Wilder. When referencing the solo decision made to throw in the towel, Deas said in the post-fight press conference, “Deontay is the kind of guy who’s a go out on his shield kind of guy, and he will tell you straight up, don’t throw the towel in.”
When something like this is said by a coach, the commission needs to step in and look at their licensing; you cannot be willing to put your fighter’s health at risk because they have “frightening power.” Deontay Wilder has now said that he is re-evaluating keeping Breland as a coach because his team should know “I’d rather die in the ring than have the towel thrown in.” This is the reason we have coaches, why we have people in fighters corners because a fighter doesn’t always have the clarity to make the best decision in the interest of their health. We’ve seen in the past corner-men take the initial brash of throwing in the towel, but the countless times we’ve seen a corner make that decision, and we rarely see the thank you. So Thank-You Mark Breland, you did what every fighter should hope his or her corner would do.