Undefeated heavyweight contender Junior Fa believes a bicep injury suffered by Deontay Wilder in the closing weeks of his training camp may have cost him his WBC title against Tyson Fury.
Wilder 42-1-1 (41) was stopped in seven one-sided frames by Fury 30-0-1 (21) in Las Vegas back in February. The American power-puncher was down in rounds three and five before his corner threw in the towel.
WBO number six Fa 19-0 (10) was one of Wilder’s lead sparring partners for the fight.
“I was very shocked [by the Wilder defeat]. The lead up and the training was actually really good. Deontay was looking great,” the 30-year-old New Zealander told Sky Sports.
“I think he did hurt himself towards the end of camp, which I don’t think would have played too much into the fight, but then I don’t really know the extent of the damage of the injury that he sustained.
“What I do know [is] that he did get injured, but I was very surprised by Fury’s game plan. As soon as the fight started, and I saw Fury not really taking a backward step, trying to push Wilder to the ropes, I was thinking ‘Oh man, this is going to be a hard night for Wilder.’
“Fury just basically did what he said he was going to do, which was stop the biggest puncher in the world. That was a very, very good performance from him.
Wilder has undergone bicep surgery since the fight.
“Yes, the bicep injury. I don’t know the extent of the damage, but he did hurt it, yeah,” Fa said.
After the fight Wilder blamed his 40-pound ring walk costume for affecting his performance but hinted that there were other issues behind the scenes that led to his first professional loss.
“There’s a lot of things that I don’t even want to talk about at this moment in time,” the 34-year-old told the PBC podcast.
“I’m still reflecting on certain things and I can’t believe the things that happened to me and they happened to me at that point in time in my career.
“Maybe I’ll come out with some things later on as things unfold when I get into camp but I don’t want to talk about it at the moment in time. I’m still reflecting on it and figuring some things out.”
Fa, who is expected to take on former WBO champion Joseph Parker 27-2 (21) later this year in an all-Kiwi showdown, has also sparred unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 23-1 (21) on a number of occasions.
“I sparred AJ before we knew how good he was, so back in 2011 just after the Commonwealth Games,” said Fa, who claimed a bronze medal at the tournament in India.
“I was very surprised at how good he was. On that year he got the silver medal at the World Amateur Championships and then he went on to win the gold medal.
“I’d done some work with him before and just after the Olympics as well, because I came over [was drafted into the squad] for the World Series of Boxing with the Lionhearts.
“Good timing, good power. Very, very good power. He’s very, very focused and very dedicated to the sport.”
Fa struggled to compare the punching power of Joshua and Wilder but said every blow from the American hurt.
“From what I can remember, from AJ in terms of comparing power, I would say definitely Deontay Wilder is the biggest puncher,” he said.
“It’s just a different type of power. I can’t really explain it. I know AJ has got serious heavy hands and they’ve got a bit of a snap to it too, but Wilder, I don’t know man, he’s just got a punch that dazes you straight away.
“In terms of training, I would say both of them are pretty much the same. They both carry great mindsets, which is something that I love to see in fighters as well.
“When I went over and trained with Wilder, that was the biggest thing that I took away was his intensity in training and he’s there to do a job, and then he gets it done. As soon as training is done then he just turns human again.”