The new lead trainer of former long-time champion Deontay Wilder discusses the finer aspects of the sport—and explains why his fighter will be victorious against Tyson Fury Saturday night on pay-per-view.
On Saturday, October 9th, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, WBC World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) seeks to defend his title in the highly anticipated rubber match against the man who formerly held that title, Deontay Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs). The blockbuster event will be broadcast live on pay-per-view (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
Wilder is an Olympic bronze medalist and had 10 successful title defenses when he held the WBC world heavyweight title. Following his single loss to Fury in 2020, “The Bronze Bomber” made some changes to his team, naming Malik Scott as lead trainer.
Scott is a former professional boxer who has long been part of Wilder’s training camps, before suffering a loss to Wilder in the ring in 2014. Scott and Wilder have also been personal friends for years.
Scott took a few minutes away from the intense preparation of training camp to provide his insights into boxing fundamentals.
It All Starts with the Jab
“Deontay is already heavy-handed,” Scott said. “I tell him all the time that I want him to show every attribute he has (like his jab and left hook) so that the opposition totally forgets about the right hand.
“I believe his left hook is just as strong as his right hand. We just got finished sparring, and my favorite punch from him today was the triple left hook. His left hand is magical right now. I don’t even mean as far as power—I mean the way he’s decoying with it. He’s looking down and shooting up, and shooting down and looking up. Deontay is doing stuff that he wasn’t doing six months ago. Those things are materializing into his natural arsenal because we’ve been drilling it so much. And that’s going to translate in the ring against Fury.
“The left hooks he was throwing to the body today, it’s a beautiful thing because we’ve worked on it. Because of him throwing it constantly over and over, on the body shield. I’m making him get off the line when I throw my right hand, as you guys can see from some of the short clips [on social media]. Don’t just slip my right hand because it looks cute—slip that right hand and get over, and make the guy pay to the liver. And that’s what he’s doing now. He’s doing it from a drill—it’s not just ‘I’m trying something and it’s working, so that’s the move I did.’ That’s what Deontay used to do a lot. That right there is gone.
“One thing no one can ever change about Deontay is the God-given power. But technique-wise, in the details of his style, we can tweak those, and we have been tweaking those. We’ve made those better. We didn’t do nothing but add on to everything that he’s had.”
Footwork and Positioning
In 2019, Wilder defended his WBC world title against top contender Dominic Breazeale. In that bout, Wilder utilized his understated foot positioning to release his devastating right hand from an unusual angle, ending in a vicious knockout of Breazeale.
“We do a lot of disengagement drills for positioning. Deontay understands that when he disengages, or creates space, he puts himself in position for other punches. Instead of constantly coming forward and pressing guys, when these guys think they are in position, we make them reset by simply disengaging,” said Scott.
“When we’re moving to our right, we’re not crossing feet. If it happens, the work gets stopped, and we’re like, uh-uh, that gets corrected.”
“ [Deontay] had good defense before. Now his defense is great. ” Trainer - Malik Scott
Protect Yourself At All Times
“I feel as though Deontay has one of the best chins in the heavyweight division,” Scott said. “Because we’re in a boxing match, you have to take a punch. He has taken one and then come back and stopped guys. We could say that comes from him being a very tough guy and having inner strength, and he refused to go down. That can’t be practiced—you have to be born with that.
“But what can be practiced is what we’re doing now. He’s not parrying or slipping punches subconsciously anymore. These things are being drilled. He’s not just slipping to one side or the other. He’s slipping to both sides, he’s mixing disengagements in with parries and slipping. He’s literally doing everything.
“His defense is impeccable right now. He had good defense before. Now his defense is great.”
“Space and distance come with disengagement,” Scott explained. “It makes the opposition have to come to you. Anybody that’s coming towards a focused, healthy Deontay Wilder…that’s a recipe for disaster.
“We disengage by feinting, throwing a decoy, and while the opposition is reacting to the feints and decoys, we’re taking the Jersey Joe Walk. ‘Jersey’ Joe Walcott would disengage with his shoulders and make a guy think he was walking away. That would create space.
“The drills from disengaging are about making the opposition come to you. If I want someone to come to me, I merely separate from them. They have to come to me—we’re in a boxing match. That creates distance. That resets your opposition, makes them think. No one is expecting disengagement. It’s really a lost art.”
“Boxing is not just what you do in the ring that makes you successful,” Scott said. “It’s the lifestyle outside the ring. Deontay gave up being around his family every day. Now after we train, he goes straight to recovery or he gets what his nutritionist set out for him. He’s living like a full-time fighter. He’s doing a lot of things he’s never done to get something he’s never had [becoming two-time world champion].
“Jaclyn Sklaver is his first nutritionist. She’s one of the best in the world. Deontay’s weight is perfect, he’s getting the right nutrition, and he’s feeling good. And that’s the lifestyle.”
Throughout his career, Wilder has dealt extremely well with adversity and the pressure of being the “baddest man on the planet.”
“I think the championship mindset comes from his upbringing,” Scott said. “How he handles it comes from the experience of having 10 title defenses. The guy was an Olympian. There’s pressure on him now. Pressure is just part of it. Does he still get nervous? I’m sure. But it’s about how you handle these big moments. I have no doubt he’s gonna pass this test with flying colors.”
Scott touched on what this whole unusual experience has been like for him, moving from sparring partner, to friend, to opponent, to head coach, of one of the top boxers on the planet.
“It’s been surreal. And it’s because of Deontay’s willingness to be receptive, to make change, to sacrifice. I’m training the most dynamic and receptive fighter in the world.
“Blood couldn’t make us no closer. He’s my real brother, I love him, I’d do anything for him, and when he asked me did I want the job, I was insulted that he even asked me. Because of course, I would come along, do this job and help him get this payback.”
For a closer look at Fury vs Wilder 3, check out our fight night page.
- Fury vs Wilder III