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Whether he really believes it, or it was just a story Deontay Wilder told his brother Marsellos to save face, Wilder’s accusation that Tyson Fury hid a “blunt object” in his glove is absurd for a number of reasons. While there have been instances of foul-play regarding gloves in the past, in today’s sport the chances are slimmer than ever and any method for cheating would have to be far more subtle than putting something hard inside a glove. Honestly, when the story first broke we thought it was a joke just based on how implausible the situation really is.
The only people giving this conspiracy any weight at all are casual fans who have no idea how regulated professional boxing actually is. We’ve all seen the pre-fight hand-wrapping of various boxers on YouTube, some boxers have even talked to their fans on Instagram live while this is taking place. However, out of curiosity, we thought it might be interesting to look deeper into the situation and explain exactly how impossible this accusation really is.
The pre-fight glove and wrap inspection
Being one of the most dangerous sports you can currently practice, the rules of boxing have been developed over time to protect practitioners as much as possible. The regulation of gloves begins far in advance of fight night but culminates in a stringent check, witnessed by members of both fighters’ teams, while the hand wraps and gloves are placed on each fighter by a trained professional. Any attempts to hide objects within, or manipulate the gloves in any way would be seen by a room full of people.
For example, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has the following controls on gloves and wraps, taken straight from the official NSAC guide:
- Upon the fighters/camps inspecting and selecting their primary and secondary pair of gloves, the Chief Inspector or his representative will mark #1 signifying primary gloves, and the fighter and inspector will initial and date the gloves. The same procedure will be followed for the secondary gloves.
- When the selection process is completed, the primary gloves will be placed in a duffle bag labeled “Primary Gloves.” Secondary gloves will be placed in duffle bag labeled “Back Up Gloves.” Both duffle bags shall be locked with a NSAC combo lock and remain in the possession of NSAC until the night of the event.
- On the night of the event, the gloves will be brought to the venue by a NSAC representative.
- The primary gloves will be located with the NSAC representative/ Chief Inspector in the dressing room area. The secondary glove duffle bag will be located under NSAC table ringside, locked to the table and readily accessible in the event the secondary gloves are requested.
- The Primary Glove bag will remain locked at all times when gloves are not being issued.
- All gloves will be in the care and custody of the NSAC until they are issued.
- Gloves will be issued to the fighter after the fighter hands are wrapped and when the fighter is prepared to put the gloves on.
- Under no circumstances will anyone from the fighter’s camp massage, manipulate or work the gloves to soften up the pad or any other portion of the glove.
- Championship/Special Event fighters and camp personnel may verify with NSAC representative that the gloves issued to them have their initials located on the wrapped gloves.
- At the conclusion of the event the “back up gloves” will be returned to the Promoter and both duffle bags will stay with the Chief Inspector of the NSAC.
These regulations are pretty much the same for professional boxing in all states and even amateur boxing’s procedures mirror the main points of this. At this point, it’s already easy to see that nothing could have been put in Fury’s glove that was designed to hurt Wilder, but could something have been done to his wraps to make his punches more dangerous?
Luis Resto and Antonio Margarito
Perhaps the two most famous cases of boxers tampering with their wraps to give them an edge came almost thirty years apart, but both involved similar methods.
In 1983 Luis Resto fought Billy Collins Jr. with gloves that his trainer had modified by removing an ounce of padding from the knuckle area. The lack of padding on the front of the glove gave Resto a huge edge as there was much less material between his fists and Collins’ body for every punch. On top of this, Resto’s trainer had coated his hand-wraps in the powdered form of plaster. This meant that as Resto fought his sweat mixed with the powder and caused his hand wraps to harden, creating casts around his hands like the ones used to protect broken bones.
The damage caused by either of these techniques would have resulted in Resto having an edge, but used together they gave Collins’ no chance of winning. His injuries were so severe he was told he could never fight again. Sadly, Collins’ passed away just a few months later with many believing the cause to be depression over losing his career.
Following Resto’s actions, boxing commissions implemented a host of new rules designed to stop anything remotely similar to that happening again. The inspection of hand wraps become stricter and tighter control of the gloves prior to each fight began in 1983.
In 2009 Antonio Margarito was caught, as a result of these tighter controls, trying to use hand wraps coated in powder for his fight with Shane Mosley. While in his dressing room getting his wraps placed, Mosley’s trainer noticed a powdery substance on the wraps and asked for them to be checked. The wraps were confiscated and kept for analysis, and Margarito was given new wraps to wear instead.
Despite losing to Mosley via TKO, Margarito was banned from boxing in the U.S for a year after tests on his wraps concluded that they had indeed been coated in plaster. While his gloves had not been altered, Margarito used the same cheating technique as Resto had done in 1983.
Following Margarito getting caught for this, boxers and trainers across the globe have been even more careful when inspecting their opponent’s equipment. Each trainer takes the situation extremely seriously and concentrates on nothing but checking the wraps and gloves when they are being put on. Not only are the wraps checked for substances, but the technique used to wrap the hands is carefully controlled to make sure that a fighter’s knuckles and hands are sufficiently protected.
The truth about Wilder’s loss
While Wilder has variously blamed his loss on hidden injuries, the weight of his pre-fight costume, and now on Fury’s gloves, the truth is that he got outclassed by a much heavier and stronger Fury. Fury implemented a perfectly executed game plan and physically bullied Wilder to exhaustion, whilst also outboxing him. Fury trained for a new style gave himself more punching power and ultimately shocked Wilder, probably causing him genuine injury in the process.
Wilder’s accusations don’t take away from Fury’s win but instead take away from Wilder’s image. He could have taken the loss well, admitted his faults, and pledged to adjust his plan for their third fight, but instead his inability to take responsibility is only taking away from his reputation within the boxing world.
Whether Wilder has what it takes to make the changes necessary to avenge his loss to Fury will be seen come December, between now and then hopefully we’ve heard the last of the bad excuses.