Before the fight, a WBC title eliminator, Scott indicated the two men were good friends and that he loved Wilder. Scott talked about how they had sparred against one another in Wilder's hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He said they had held each other's children, gotten tattoos together and generally had hung out and become very close. In comments before the bout, Wilder also agreed that he and Scott were buddies.
“We're not going to hold anything back,”said Wilder before the bout. Clearly the two men had prior discussions about their friendship and how they would go about things when they met in the ring. “I know I'm not going to hold nothing back. I'm going to whoop him just like I didn't know him. That's how we're going about it.”
So when Wilder landed a slapping left hook to the side of Scott's head followed by a straight right that was partially blocked by Scott's arms and gloves - it was somewhat surprising when Scott went to the floor in the manner that he did. What was even more surprising is that he was counted out by the referee.
The two-punch volley that Wilder landed appeared innocuous.
The fight took on the comical look of other highly questionable first round stoppages. It was similar to when Muhammad Ali landed the "phantom punch" in Lewiston, Maine against Sonny Liston in 1965 and when Mike Tyson appeared to have not hit Bruce Seldon at all in 1996 before stopping him in the first round as well.
Simply put, Wilder's punches really didn't seem to have much force behind them. It was only the second time Scott has been stopped or been on the deck in a 14-year professional career that has seen him engage in 39 bouts.
After Scott went down, a smirking Wilder walked away from him and didn't even bother to watch the referee's count. It was strange to see Wilder lean over the top rope in the neutral corner and talk to somebody at ringside while the count was ongoing. The ending, at least at that point, was not a foregone conclusion. But Wilder ignored it all as though he knew it was already over the second Scott landed on the canvas.
And after a grand total of 96 seconds it was.
Scott landed no punches in the bout. Zero.
When Showtime blow-by-blow man Mauro Ranallo immediately commented to veteran color man Al Bernstein there was "no controversy here" - Bernstein did not respond to him. Al has been around a long time.
In the ring afterwards, Jim Gray, also of Showtime interviewed Wilder. His comment to Wilder was, "Many of your fights have been carefully choreographed and picked." Wilder brushed off that comment and responded that he had "Alabama power" and despite the fact the punches appeared soft - his power translates "through the gloves."
As Bernstein and Paulie Malignaggi viewed the replays of the stoppage, both men sounded doubtful in their opinion the two taps Wilder landed had the force to cause Scott to be counted out. Bernstein said it was "surprising" to have seen Scott go down.
"We definitely have love for each other, but there comes that point time in this sport where you have to cross each other's path,” Deontay Wilder said before the bout. “If it was my brother, my father, whoever...I have the same feeling towards them as I do with Malik. We both understand it's nothing personal, it's just business, and this is the business we signed up for.”
Somebody got "the business" last night - that much is certain.
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