Wilder (42-1-1) lost his WBC world heavyweight title and his unbeaten professional record in a devastating seventh-round TKO at the hands of ‘The Gpysy King’ (30-0-1) in their rematch in Las Vegas in February. ‘The Bronze Bomber’ had dropped Fury twice in their thrilling first fight – a controversial draw in Los Angeles in December 2018.
After the rematch Wilder said he still didn’t feel like Fury was the real champion, providing excuses for his shock defeat which included the weight of his ring walk costume and a bicep injury.
But respected trainer and TV analyst Atlas, who guided Michael Moorer to the world heavyweight title in the 1990s, says Wilder must find both technical and mental improvement to cause a surprise in the third fight – which could yet take place in Australia over Christmas. And emulating what Joshua did by avenging that shock Andy Ruiz Jr defeat would be a good starting point.
“Look in the mirror, that’s where it starts. See what you see, see what you like, see what you don’t like. See what looks back, see who looks back,” Atlas said on THE FIGHT podcast.
“That’s what you’ve gotta do, be honest with yourself. Be honest with yourself, start with it wasn’t the weight of the costume you carried into the ring, it was the weight of the doubt you carried into the ring. Start with that, put that on a barbell and lift it X amount of times in a gym.
“As far as motivation, look for something called redemption. Look in that mirror and be angry, be embarrassed, be mad, be honest, be determined, be Joshua. Yeah I knocked him (Joshua), and gave him all the credit in the world when he deserved it, when he earned it, all of it. That’s what you’re supposed to do. Be Joshua, be a guy who looked the devil in the eye and said ‘you know what, you ain’t winning this time’.
“You ready to be more than just a puncher, a champion? A guy who behaves like a champion, not punches like a champion, behaves like a champion. There it is. Be Joshua, I’ll say it again, be him in the rematch with Ruiz, when he was determined, angry. Not looking to make friends, not looking to be satisfied because of what his bank account said. He wanted redemption and he wanted to erase what happened, he wanted to live with himself peacefully again. Be that, that’s where it starts, be all of that.”
Atlas has been critical of Wilder’s lack of technical boxing ability in the past, and again said it’s an area in which he’s severely lacking.
“If I was his trainer I’d fire myself because I obviously haven’t taught him. The spears are gonna come, what, the truth is not allowed any more in life? When it’s at me it’s allowed – I’m not perfect, okay?
“But if I’m in a position of analysing and answering questions, I gotta do it sometimes in a very straightforward, sometimes it can be in a harsh way. Sometimes it turns out to be in a very complimentary way, but sometimes it don’t. Because it’s the position you’re in to answer the question. The question, not to worry about what agenda you wanna keep and whose side you wanna be on and how that’s gonna serve you and if it’s gonna be comfortable and convenient. No, it’s the truth, and that’s why people are listening, to hear that. It’s only what I think is the truth. It’s my opinion.
“I think that there are a lot of things that he wasn’t taught. I’ve said it before – this ain’t news, it ain’t new. A lot of things that he finally paid a price for, those things he never got taught. Things he never learned, other than he had power. That’s not taught, it’s born – not made. Power, that kind of power in the right hand, great power. And it makes up for mistakes sometimes, it erases a lot of mistakes.
“But if that’s all you have, and you don’t build other things around it, one day you’re gonna be in a situation where it’s not enough. And you’re gonna pay a price for the things you didn’t learn, you didn’t develop, you didn’t pay attention to, you didn’t get taught.”
Right now, Atlas believes that unless there is a new voice brought into Wilder’s team, it’s unlikely he can change and adapt enough to trouble Fury.
“As far as the question of what can they change, how are those people gonna change anything? If they haven’t taught him up to this point, how are they gonna start teaching him now? Did they wait until he lost to bring out the real artillery? Did they wait until he lost to say ‘ now I’m gonna teach you?’. Really? I don’t think that was anyone’s plan, it’s not a good one if it was.
“If they were gonna teach him, something would have been taught already, it would have been done already. Nobody new has been brought in, maybe somebody new has been brought in I don’t know about. Alright, then I step back. But otherwise, what’s he gonna learn?”