As heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder watched the blood pour from the cuts above Tyson Fury's right eye Saturday night, courtesy of an Otto Wallin left hook, he thought about two stoppages.
One was in the ring, as Wilder thought Fury was about to fall victim to a massive upset. A stoppage due to the cuts, which were the result of punches, would have meant a victory for the unheralded Wallin.
The other stoppage would have happened later, as Wilder's highly anticipated rematch against Fury -- penciled in for Feb. 22 in Las Vegas -- would have been canceled.
But Fury was allowed to continue and scored a unanimous decision victory.
"Of course, I am happy that Fury got the win than if he didn't because that would mess up our plans if he lost, big time," Wilder said.
As soon as he saw the cut, Wilder called co-manager Al Haymon and later spoke to co-manager Shelly Finkel to voice his concern.
"I called Al first and I'm like, 'They're gonna stop this fight, Fury f---ed up, they're gonna stop this fight," Wilder told ESPN on Wednesday. "The gash looked like it was like three inches long and two inches wide. It was crazy. Al wasn't watching it and he was asking what's going on and I'm like, 'Al, this cut is bad. I ain't never seen one like that.' This cut was long and wide. Then it became two cuts and became even worse. When I was talking to Al I was like, 'This s--- is bad, they gonna stop this.'"
Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) and Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) have already signed a two-fight deal for a rematch and a third fight with the sequel of their hard-fought draw in December penciled in for Feb. 22 in Las Vegas on pay-per-view.
But Wilder said he was ready for whatever happened, even if it meant a Fury loss and the rematch going down the drain.
"I wasn't on pins and needles because it ain't my career, it ain't me," Wilder said. "Things happen in boxing. Things ain't final until they happen but [a Fury loss] would have just changed the whole dynamic of the situation -- just like when [Andy] Ruiz [Jr.] beat [Anthony] Joshua and it changed the course of the heavyweight division.
"See, that fight [with Wallin] was supposed to be stopped. Everybody knows that. But, of course, they don't want this man to lose because of me. They want the big fight. We understand that. People are not dumb." Deontay Wilder
"I'm fine with that. I'm fine with the course being changed. So be it. Let's go to another course, let's go to another plan. That's just part of boxing and that's why I love it. Boxing changes up so much, you just never know until you know. Nothing is guaranteed."
Finkel said Wilder was calm when they spoke, even with the fight potentially about to be stopped.
"Deontay seemed concerned, of course, but he was accepting that this is boxing if it's stopped," Finkel said. "It wasn't like, 'Oh, my god, what am I gonna do? If this happens and Fury loses, we'll go another way and figure it out.'"
Fury pulled out the unanimous decision win, but Wilder was not impressed by his performance. Wilder also believes that the fight should not have gone twelve rounds.
Fury sustains massive cut above eye vs. Wallin
Tyson Fury gets caught with a left hand across his brow as he is backed into a corner by Otto Wallin. For more Top Rank Boxing action, sign up for ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/.
"See, that fight [with Wallin] was supposed to be stopped," Wilder said. "Everybody knows that. But, of course, they don't want this man to lose because of me. They want the big fight. We understand that. People are not dumb. If you know you have 3-inch long f------ cut like that looking like it's 2 inches wide -- he was like Two-Face, one side blood and one side sweat. They were supposed to stop that s--- and Wallin would have won."
Wilder said Wallin's success was partly because Wilder had softened Fury up.
"Otto Wallin was doing a great job and his corner gave him some great instructions, because when he had Fury tired, he was going to the body and he seen the cut and started executing on the cut," Wilder said. "He was doing some dirty tactics. One time he tried to grab his eyeball and snatch it out of him. He made me smile when he tried to grab his eyeball and pull it out of the socket.
"Fury was executing everything perfectly in the beginning, but when (Wallin) hit him with a left hook that was the game-changer. Wallin should have executed a little bit more and he would have gotten Fury out of there."
When Wilder and Fury met Dec. 1 at Staples Center, Fury outboxed Wilder for long stretches, but Wilder scored two knockdowns, one in the ninth round and a huge one in the 12th round that Fury somehow survived. The fight was ruled a split draw with Wilder winning 115-111, Fury winning 114-112 and the third judge scoring it 113-113.
Wilder said after such a tough fight against him in December, followed by the gruesome cuts against Wallin, Fury is in big trouble when they meet again.
"There's nothing Fury will be able to do. Fury looked his best when he fought me and that's the best you will ever see of him," Wilder said. "He better be ready, but the way I hit, I'm gonna cut (the eye) back open, period. No matter what they do -- he can have plastic surgery, whatever. I'm gonna cut that back open, period. It's over with. I got Fury's number.
"That's why the dude didn't take the rematch [immediately]. He knows."
Wilder, 33, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who has made nine title defenses, still has to win a rematch with Luis "King Kong" Ortiz on Nov. 23 in Las Vegas. A news conference to announce the bout is being planned for Los Angeles on Sept. 28, before the Errol Spence Jr.-Shawn Porter welterweight unification fight that night at Staples Center.
Wilder said he has no concern about having another interim fight before the big one with Fury. Wilder plans to get rid of Ortiz early following their hard March 2018 fight. In that bout, Wilder dropped Ortiz in the fifth round but then nearly got stopped in the seventh round before rallying for a punishing 10th-round knockout victory.
"Anything can happen but I've been in there with Ortiz before and I went life and death with him. But I had the flu during that time. I was very ill. No one knows this but my team," Wilder said. "I was spitting out mucus walking out to the ring. I was very ill. I only had a few weeks to train for him. I was too sick to train. I had a baby at the time. There was a lot of s--- going on in my life, but I handle business. I don't play around with these guys. It's not fun and games for me. It's a very serious situation for me and I must handle it accordingly, and I do.
"I don't make excuses, but I was very ill and I was able to do what I did with him then. Now I'm super strong. I'm at all my all-time best. I'm ready to go now. By me already knowing him it's going to make it even easier. I'm getting him out of there. Expect to see a first-round knockout."