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Deontay Wilder 'going to come with skill and power' in third fight against Tyson Fury

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The outcome of the third fight between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury Saturday in Las Vegas may hinge on a curious decision.

After firing trainer Mark Breland for throwing in the towel during Wilder’s TKO loss to Fury in their last fight, Wilder hired Malik Scott.

Who is Malik Scott? He is a retired heavyweight that Wilder knocked out in the first round of their bout in 2014 and someone whose experience may seem lacking as head trainer.

“The only pros I ever worked with was the pros that all over the world I would go spar and actually give them tips on things and stuff like that,’’ Scott, 40, told USA TODAY Sports. "Never really like this, no.''

This is no lightweight work.

In 2018, during his first bout with Fury, Wilder relied on his ferocious right hand. He knocked Fury down twice in a fight that was scored a draw. In the rematch, in February 2020, Wilder relied on his right hand again. To disastrous results.

Fury, 6-9, exposed Wilder, 6-7, as one-dimensional fighter. He knocked Wilder down twice and won by TKO in the seventh round, when Breland threw in the towel and the referee stopped the fight.

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BEHIND THE SCENES: Wilder, Fury arrive in Las Vegas for fight

Now, after working with Scott for more than a year in a half, Wilder, 35, has proclaimed he is “reinvented’’ as he attempts to win back the WBC heavyweight championship belt he lost to Fury. Wilder also has defended his choice of selecting Scott as his new head trainer.

“He’s a genius,’’ Wilder said. “He’s a mastermind when it comes to boxing. And when you put two minds together, we become very creative with certain things.’’

Breland, who worked as Wilder’s primary trainer for more than a decade, said on Instagram earlier this year that Wilder had become “untrainable.’’

“He was at the point of he knew more about boxing than all of us,’’ Breland said. “So teaching a correct jab was not a priority to learn once he continued on his knockout streak. So a coach can only teach someone if they’re willing to learn."

Countered Scott: “I can’t tell you one struggle I’ve had with (Wilder), and I’ve challenged. Our bond is just different.’’

Scott and Wilder met more than a decade ago when they were working side-by-side as sparring partners. Their friendship has grown, and Scott was part of Wilder’s camp before the rematch with Fury. Scott said he was primarily in charge of “keeping the energy alive’’ because Wilder thrives on “good energy.’’

But since taking over as head trainer, Scott said, he has worked extensively on jabs, uppercuts, body punches and footwork – skills that Wilder neglected while becoming a knockout artist.

“I just want him to be a complete, well rounded fighter, because that’s what he is,’’ Scott said. “Because he got so used to knocking people out with that big right hand, he literally got content with just that.’’

Fury, 33, knows about transformation. Before the rematch with Wilder, he said, it took him just six weeks of work with trainer Sugarhill Steward to go from a “slick counterpuncher to aggressive knockout puncher.’’

Wilder has had considerably more time to make his own changes because of an drawn-out arbitration process that ultimately forced Fury to fight Wilder for a third time and Fury testing positive for COVID-19 in July, which delayed the fight by more than two months .

It was more time for Wilder to work with Scott.

“I believe (Wilder) probably could’ve got a degree from college in that time if he would have worked hard for it, never mind changing boxing style,’’ Fury said. “I don’t make much of it because a lot of people speak a lot of words and nothing gets done about it."

The issue surfaced earlier this week when things got heated at a press conference after Wilder continued to claim Fury doctored his gloves before their last fight by putting a foreign object inside them.

“I don’t have to manipulate my gloves," Wilder said.

“You do, you do,’’ Fury shot back. “You have to do it all, you have to do it all. Because you are a loser and you’re being trained by a loser."

That’s certainly not true based on records.

Wilder is 42-1-1 with 41 knockouts. Before retiring in 2016, Scott was 38-3-1 – including that loss to Wilder. During an interview with USA TODAY Sports, Scott mentioned that he faced allegations of throwing that fight to Wilder and that both boxers have denied.

“None of that really is important,’’ Scott said. “That’s just part of our story.’’

The new story?

“It’s not so much what he taught me,’’ Wilder said of Scott. “It’s more so what he has brought out of me that I’ve already known. The rest of my game has always been there.

“Going to come with skill and power."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury ready for third heavyweight title fight