Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder referee was on verge of stopping fight when towel came in

Jack de Menezes
The Independent
Kenny Bayless was considering waving off Deontay Wilder's fight with Tyson Fury when the towel came in: Reuters
Kenny Bayless was considering waving off Deontay Wilder's fight with Tyson Fury when the towel came in: Reuters

Referee Kenny Bayless was on the verge of calling off Tyson Fury’s heavyweight title fight against Deontay Wilder when the American’s corner threw in the towel, he has revealed.

Experienced boxing referee Bayless was the man in the middle of the WBC heavyweight title rematch, which saw Fury become a two-time champion after inflicting the first defeat of Wilder’s career.

Wilder was knocked down by Fury in the third and again in the fifth, which led to his co-trainer Mark Breland taking the decision to throw in the towel 1:39 minutes into the seventh round to pull his boxer out of the contest.

Wilder fumed at the decision, bellowing “why’d you do that?” at his corner repeatedly, and he has already revealed his intention to remove Breland from his corner when he makes his return to the ring.

But in a revelation that appears to vindicate Breland’s decision, referee Bayless has revealed that he went into the seventh round already considering a premature end to the fight, such was the punishment that Fury was dishing out to the defending champion.

“It was a good stoppage in my opinion because in the minute's rest between rounds before the stoppage I went over to Deontay,” Bayless told SiriusXM Fight Nation.

“I looked him in the face and I gave him the line that us referees give the fighters to let them know, 'Hey, you've gotta show me something’.

“They know that if you go back out there and you don't show me something, then I might have to do my job and stop it.

“Deontay is a warrior, when I saw the towel come in out of the corner of my eyes and stopped it, Deontay's first response was, ‘Why did I stop it?’ Then I let him know it was his corner that stopped it, but I was very close to stopping it.”

Deontay Wilder was incensed by the decision to pull him out of the fight (AFP via Getty)
Deontay Wilder was incensed by the decision to pull him out of the fight (AFP via Getty)

Many observers including commentators believed that Wilder was impacted by his injuries as a large volume of blood flowed from his ear, leading to suggestions that the 34-year-old had suffered a damaged ear drum and suffered from losing his balance as a result. However, Wilder has since confirmed that he did not suffer any such injury, and Bayless backed this up after speaking during the fight with the in-ring doctor in Wilder’s corner.

"I thought that the blood was coming from the inside of the ear,” Bayless added. "At the end of the round when I went over to check, the doctor was already in the ring while I was picking up the scorecard.

"The doctor looked at me and said, ‘He’s all right’. So at that point I left it alone.”

Wilder has already signalled his intention to activate a rematch clause for a trilogy fight against Fury – who is open to a third bout – with a deadline set for the end of July, which would leave the winner enough time to organise a unification fight against IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua before the end of the year.

Read more

Fury considering pay-off to Wilder to enable Joshua title fight

What to Read Next