Former two-time world heavyweight champion George Foreman has stepped in to give Deontay Wilder some much-needed counsel following the latter’s devastating and emphatic defeat to Britain’s Tyson Fury in February.
“Big George”, a former Olympic gold medallist, says that Wilder’s humiliation to Fury echoes that of his own embarrassment against Muhammad Ali in ‘The Rumble In The Jungle’ back in 1974 and the former pugilist turned pusher of lean, mean grilling machines believes that Wilder, like himself, can turn his career around following a first pro defeat.
"I had a nice conversation with Wilder, nice conversation with him," Foreman told TMZ Sports.
"We talked because I was in a position where I lost unexpectedly with the title in Africa. Only I know what he's going through,
"He's gonna have to live with [the Fury loss] but I can show him how to live with that and come back better. We talked a lot on those lines."
Foreman was 40-0 and only three of his opponents had seen the final bell before Ali bamboozled him with the now famous 'rope-a-dope' technique. Wilder had similarly blitzkrieged his way through boxing’s marquee division until he became unstuck by a fighter as bombastic as the one who stopped Foreman half a century earlier.
Cynics will say this is an old veteran sticking his nose in, but the parallels are definitely there and Foreman is living proof that comebacks are possible. He is still the oldest heavyweight champion in the history of the sport, after all.
Despite the odds stacked heavily in Tyson Fury’s favour when the two meet for a third time, Foreman is confident that his fellow American will emerge triumphant over ‘The Gypsy King.’
"Not only beat him, [Wilder] can do it easily. Give him another chance. He'll show you."
Foreman’s not the only former heavyweight to give Wilder his backing in the third fight either. ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ himself, Mike Tyson, also suggested earlier this week that Wilder could avenge his defeat to the Briton, claiming he would be dedicated more than ever.
Speaking on Instagram Live, Tyson said: 'Listen, [Wilder] didn't fight the same fight he fought the first fight. The first fight he fought with confidence like he could win. The second fight he fought like he didn't have no zest, no life in him.
“I just don't think he was the same fighter after the first fight. He couldn't rise to that occasion again.”
“There's always a chance,” he added. “Everyone always has a chance. It just depends on how much they want to give in to it.
“If he wants to dedicate his life to really winning this fight, anything can happen. Deontay Wilder can still make a lot of money. He shouldn't feel sad or discouraged. He should continue to go out there and fight with a lot of zest and confidence.
“He's feeling like he's given up - ‘Oh, my life is over. I made $90 million so far, but my life is over. Oh lord, oh God, I wanna die.’ Grow up man, let's just keep going through this until it's really over.”
Wilder’s defeat to Fury at the start of the year was a massive blow to a man of supreme confidence but he can take heart from the support of the stars of yesteryear. Now he just needs to heed their advice.