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The Journeyman Boxer Who Knocked Deontay Wilder Down For First Time In His Professional Career Lives A Very Different Life

Adnan Riaz

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The Journeyman Boxer Who Knocked Deontay Wilder Down For First Time In His Professional Career Lives A Very Different Life

Harold Sconiers (18-27-2) slowly moves his index finger up his right arm, fist raised in the air during a Zoom call, and recalls the “vibration” tingling through his elbow and up to his shoulder. The former boxer admitted his head was down and his overhand right was “wild,” but a “crack” noise resonated from his powerful punch. For Sconiers, he hit his designated target, and that man was none other than former WBC champion Deontay Wilder (42-2-1). “[…] Wilder grabbed me,” says Sconiers, moments after he connected, “but he grabbed me [and] he was really heavy, you know, and a voice in my head said, ‘He’s out on his feet!’ I said, ‘Oh,’ I stepped back, he starts going down [and] I tried to hit him with the hook -- which was also wild ‘cause I was in such shock -- […] on the way down [and] missed that.” It was around that point Wilder was saved by the bell, and Sconiers knows better than anyone else his chance to potentially alter the course of boxing history was lost. “And the bell rang, ‘bing,’ right there, and I said, ‘Nooo!’” Sconiers recalls, pulling back in his seat and groaning at the missed opportunity. “If I had 10-20 more seconds in that fight, that would have been it. And it’s so crazy to think that the whole trajectory, who knows how that would have changed things for either of us, but it would have been a totally different night if I had 10-20 more seconds, that would have been it […].” Sconiers’ valiant effort to cause a sensational upset against Wilder in the second round fell short, but he made a long-lasting mark from their 2010 fight.

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When Tyson Fury (31-0-1) managed to knock down Wilder for the first time in their second blockbuster encounter in 2020, he managed a feat that hadn’t been seen since Sconiers’ second-round knockdown of the Bronze Bomber. As one Reddit infographic showed, both Fury and Sconiers sit side by side as the only two men -- out of 41 career opponents -- to have knocked down a destructive power puncher like Wilder in his professional campaign. It remains an impressive feat for Sconiers, who admitted that he was already on the “journeyman path” by the time he stepped into the ring with the 36-year-old American heavyweight boxer. “Yeah, I did,” Sconiers responded, when asked if he had heard of Wilder ahead of their fight. “I had seen a couple of his matches in the 2008 Olympics, I believe, I watched a couple of his matches and I sort of recognised the name, recognised who he was. And I hadn’t heard or seen much about him expect for those couple of fights in the Olympics, but I was aware of who he was going into the fight. […] So, at that point, he’s on the rise up, I’m basically on the decline in my career. I had, who knows, 40-something professional fights against heavy competition and for a while I was kind of overboxing, I was kind of burnt out. I think a lot of guys reach that point where, maybe, you stay in it a little too long and a lot of that passion that I had early on that got me started had died out, and so for years I had settled into that journeyman path where a lot of my fights I’m being brought in as the opponent -- I’m aware of that, I do my best to win -- but at the same time, I’m the guy who would take the last-minute fight when someone gets hurt or just come in and the entire crowd’s against me. I’m fighting on this guy’s show, his promoter is putting it on and all of the fuel is basically behind my opponent. I would show up for fights like that.”

Sconiers went on to fight seven more times after the Wilder bout, managing only one win against Jameel McCline (41-13-3) in 2012 and suffering six defeats. The 45-year-old American walked away from professional boxing in 2013 after a first-round stoppage defeat to Alexander Flores (18-3-1). Sconiers, who made his pro debut in 1996, ended his career with 18 wins, 27 defeats and two draws. The Florida-born former boxer’s resume featured notable names including Donovan ‘Razor’ Ruddock (40-6-1) and ex-WBC champ Bermane Stiverne (25-5-1), with the latter suffering defeats at the hands of Wilder in 2015 and 2017. Sconiers made the life-changing decision to venture into a new career path post-boxing, which has allowed him to find purpose and direction away from the sport (but we’ll come on to that later).

Deontay Wilder (left) and Harold Sconiers (right) at the weigh-in ahead of their 2010 boxing fight in Indio, California. Credit: Fantasy Springs’ Flickr.
Deontay Wilder (left) and Harold Sconiers (right) at the weigh-in ahead of their 2010 boxing fight in Indio, California. Credit: Fantasy Springs’ Flickr.

When The Journeyman Met The Up-And-Coming Wilder

Sconiers’ path to the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California, for his clash with Wilder fit the script for his journeyman status at the time. Wilder’s former opponent told SPORTbible in an exclusive interview that he was drafted in as a replacement fighter on short notice, and Sconiers admitted that he was “out of shape” and “fat.” However, the man formerly known as ‘Hard Roc’ insisted that his abundance of experience as a boxer ensured that he could handle himself and protect himself from getting hurt, despite being anywhere near the conditioning of a ‘prime’ Sconiers. “I got a call from my manager,” Sconiers said. “I was used to getting these last-minute kind of calls and that’s what it was, I was a replacement. So, I got notified of the fight with maybe a week to go before the actual match. I was at home, I was out of shape, I was fat. You can see on the weigh-in pictures [laughs] my stomach is pretty soft. But I was in the gym a couple of days a week -- two-three days a week -- and I have enough experience to handle myself and prevent me from getting hurt. So, I got the call and a guy says, ‘Hey, can you go to California in like three days and how do you feel about fighting this kid Deontay Wilder? Have you heard of him?’ I said, ‘Oh, yeah, the guy from the Olympics. I know of him.’ ‘[Sconiers’ manager:] Yeah, you know, somebody fell out and he needs a replacement. Can you show up, travel and be ready to go? You leave in a few days, fight’s a few days after that.’ I said, ‘Sure.’ That was basically the script I was playing by at the moment.”

Sconiers arrived in California and candidly admitted that he knew his chances of winning the fight against Wilder were “slim to none.” Sure, he had a wealth of experience under his belt, but his lack of fitness and conditioning would come back to haunt him in the bout. Wilder, on the other hand, was climbing his way up the heavyweight division and held an undefeated 12-0 record at the time, with the KO artist stopping all of his opponents in three rounds or less. However, the “hotshot” former WBC champ might have accidentally ignited a spark in Sconiers’ belly during the weigh-in at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. In fact, Sconiers doesn’t hold any bitter feelings towards Wilder, even going as far as to “applaud his rise” after their fight. However, a roaring lion woke up in the Orlando native after he felt ‘disrespected’ by a young Wilder’s “intimidation” tactics at the weigh-in. “At the weigh-in, we show up,” says Sconiers, before adding: “we’re face to face as they have us do, and at some point Wilder takes [it] upon himself to, he kind of leers over me and pushes his chest up into my face and just kind of pushes his nose down to my face. And what I really felt was a disrespectful way, it was really disrespectful, over-the-top intimidation technique. I know he’s the young hotshot and he’s got to try and sell the tickets, but I just felt that was out of line. So, in my mind I’m thinking, ‘Who does this young kid think he is?’ Like, I’ve had all these fights, I’ve been around the block more times than he can probably count with better competition than him and he’s just starting out, he’s trying to make his way, who does he think he is to step up to me like that? Yeah, I’m coming in as the opponent, but don’t show me that kind of disrespect. I have nothing against Wilder, now I really applaud his rise to the top after our fight and how he was able to sustain that I think it’s awesome, but at that moment, him maybe being a little hotblooded, a little young and naive, I said that was a bit disrespectful.”

Deontay Wilder went into the six-round clash at 217lbs, while Harold Sconiers came in at 222lbs. Credit: Fantasy Springs’ Flickr.
Deontay Wilder went into the six-round clash at 217lbs, while Harold Sconiers came in at 222lbs. Credit: Fantasy Springs’ Flickr.

Following his heated weigh-in with Wilder, Sconiers returned to his hotel and waited for his trainer. He told SPORTbible his trainer wasn’t present for the weigh-in and flew in afterwards. From his arrival in California to the weigh-in, Sconiers’ position shifted from very little chance of defying the odds to formulating a high-risk, high-reward plan with his trainer in a bid to teach the “inexperienced” and “naive” Wilder a lesson inside the squared circle. “I go to my hotel and my trainer actually flies in that night, he flies in later after the weigh-in,” Sconiers recalled. “And I told him what the guy did, and I said, ‘I really wanna try to win this. I feel like I’m going to have one shot, I’m out of shape, this guy’s cut, he’s tall, he’s big, he’s strong. I’m incredibly out of shape, but I know he’s a little inexperienced and he’s naive and I believe I can at least catch him with that one or two good shots. If I can do that, I have a chance to end it. So I need your help. And my trainer, he said, ‘Well, that’s what we’re gonna do. That’s our plan. Count on me. I’ve got the eyes for this, I know what I’m doing. Put your trust in what I say. I’m gonna be watching. I’m gonna be looking for that shot and I’m gonna let you know and you need to follow my instructions, and we can try and get this done.’”

Fight Night - A Real Dose Of Adversity For Wilder

Deontay Wilder and Harold Sconiers fighting on the undercard of Eloy Perez vs Dominic Salcido’s WBO NABO super-featherweight title fight. Credit: Fantasy Springs’ Flickr.
Deontay Wilder and Harold Sconiers fighting on the undercard of Eloy Perez vs Dominic Salcido’s WBO NABO super-featherweight title fight. Credit: Fantasy Springs’ Flickr.

It’s finally the moment of truth for Sconiers on 15th October 2010. It’s do-or-die time for the veteran former boxer, an opportunity to show the youthful -- and somewhat brash -- Wilder why he shouldn’t have been disrespected at the weigh-in. According to reports at the time, Sconiers vs Wilder opened the event at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. Both men were fighting on the undercard of Eloy Perez (23-1-2 (1)) vs Dominic Salcido (18-5-0), who competed for the WBO NABO super-featherweight title. Promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and broadcast by TV network TeleFutura (now known as UniMas), the stage was all set for Sconiers. Wilder came into the six-round fight at 217lbs, with Sconiers coming in at a slightly heavier weight of 222lbs. Rocco Morales, who was ringside for the fight, reported for Fightnews that Wilder dropped Sconiers twice in the first round. Wilder’s power has since become the stuff of legends, with the former WBC kingpin winning a staggering 41 fights by way of knockout. Sconiers doesn’t believe that Wilder’s power had fully developed at that time, saying he wouldn’t rank him in the top power punchers he fought. Despite his experience in the ring, Sconiers claimed that he was “so nervous” in the fight and Wilder came out “very aggressively,” spotlighting his former opponent’s attitude at the weigh-in. “Yeah, you know, to tell you the truth, I didn’t really, out of all the guys I fight, I wouldn’t really rank Wilder -- at that time -- in the top as far as power punches,” Sconiers immediately responded to a question about Wilder’s power. “I fell in the beginning mostly just because of nerves. Man, I was so nervous and he was coming out very aggressively. Again, reflecting on the incident at the weigh-in, I think that he just thought I was just some nobody, he’s just going to walk through me. So, he was coming forward and just coming very aggressively. And starting out the fight, I was nervous with him coming at me like that. He caught me with some shots. As far as I know, the knockdowns weren’t like flat on my back. They were like touching a knee, grazing the ground and jumping back up, trying to get myself centred so that I could take a few deep breaths and say, ‘Okay, let me get my head into this.’” Sconiers survived the round and retreated to his corner, but his pre-fight exchange with his trainer proved invaluable: the chink in Wilder’s armour had been exposed, and Sconiers rolled out his plan of attack for the second round.

“‘I got it. I see the shot,’” Sconiers’ trainer told him in the corner. As soon as Sconiers recalled the aforementioned line, he licks his lips. It must have been music to his ears at the time. His trainer came through, and despite suffering two knockdowns in the first round, their exchange between rounds one and two would hand Sconiers a real fighting chance. “My trainer, he says, ‘I got it. I see the shot.’ He says, ‘Look, you know this kid, he’s tall, he’s fast, but he’s kind of wild -- and he was at least at that time -- he’s kind of wild.’ And he said, ‘Every time you throw a jab to the body, he takes both hands and pushes them down. He pushes the jab down with both hands and kind of leans his head out there. That’s the shot.’ He said, ‘Next time you go out there, what I want you to do is wait ‘til half way through the round, let him get comfortable with you again, let him feel like he’s got this and then I want you to fake a jab to the body and immediately after you faint that jab, I want you to drop an overhand right as hard as you can and as quick as you can. Just throw it. I don’t care if you don’t see it, I don’t care if you don’t feel like it’s gonna be there, I’m telling [you]: he’s gonna be there to be hit. Throw the shot -- trust in me.’” How did Sconiers respond to such a plan of attack? Simple: he said, “Okay,” left his corner and went into the second round where he would become the first man to knock down Wilder in his professional career. “‘Hey, get to the neutral corner, get to the corner!’” the referee barked at Sconiers, who laughed as he recalled the order. For Sconiers, he was in “shock” that pulling the trigger saw Wilder hit the canvas, with the former boxer hilariously admitting that he almost tripped over his feet going to the neutral corner. “There’s like a picture online of me just kind of like stumbling over to the corner,” he added, beaming from cheek to cheek.

Harold Sconiers throwing a right-handed shot at Deontay Wilder inside the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. Credit: Fantasy Springs’ Flickr.
Harold Sconiers throwing a right-handed shot at Deontay Wilder inside the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. Credit: Fantasy Springs’ Flickr.

Sconiers, much like those in attendance at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, could only watch on in a nail-biting moment to see if Wilder would beat the 10 count. “Yeah, he was down, and he was down kind of with his head down, just sitting there like for three or four seconds,” he said. “Ref is counting, I’m like, ‘Come on, come on.’ And he starts to move, he starts to get up, he turns around, he’s pulling on the ropes and he’s struggling and he’s getting up slowly. And I swear, I think it was at like number nine where he got up -- it was eight or nine -- [but] it was late in count. I believe it was nine. I was just on the edge […] I was just super excited and looking for that count to go past the 10 mark.” Sconiers pauses for a moment and inhales a deep breath. History has already told us what happened on that fateful night, but Sconiers watched on with his own eyes: a visibly hurt Wilder was back on his feet. In fact, Sconiers said his “heart sank” as Wilder’s team ushered him back to the corner for the rest period. “He got up, and the ref said, ‘Are you okay?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah,’ he kind of nods,” he recalled. “It’s the middle of the round, so his corner runs in and they grab him and start pulling him back. ‘Yeah, he’s good, he’s good, he’s good.’ They grab him back for the rest period, and my heart sank. That was it. That was the shot I had and I could get another one, but, you know, missed that opportunity.”

“Rabbit Punch” - The Aftermath Of Wilder Vs Sconiers

The only known image online of Harold Sconiers’ knockdown of Deontay Wilder. Credit: Fantasy Springs.
The only known image online of Harold Sconiers’ knockdown of Deontay Wilder. Credit: Fantasy Springs.

Wilder managed to weather the storm going into the third round and dropped Sconiers twice in the fourth to seal a TKO win on the night. The Bronze Bomber extended his record to 13-0 and would continue to climb the heavyweight division, with Wilder reaching the top of the summit by capturing the WBC title in 2015. He went the full 12 rounds -- the first time in his career -- against Stiverne in their title fight and won by unanimous decision. Wilder became the first American heavyweight world champion since Hasim Rahman (50-9-2 (1)) -- and currently the US’ last heavyweight champ -- but he has had his mettle tested on more than one occasion. The ex-WBC champ previously named Frenchman Johann Duhaupas (38-6-0) as his toughest opponent, while on another occasion that honour went to Cuban hardman Luis Ortiz (32-2-0 (2)). However, Sconiers not only managed to become the first boxer to knock Wilder down in his professional career, but also took him the furthest than any fighter up to that point. In fact, The Ring editor-in-chief Douglass Fischer was in attendance for the Wilder vs Sconiers fight and claimed the Bronze Bomber was on “wobbly legs” after he managed to climb back to his feet. “I was at the Sconiers fight (which took place at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif., in October of 2010, it was on the undercard of an Eloy Perez fight),” he wrote in his first-hand account at Ring Magazine. “I can tell anyone who wasn’t there that Wilder was not only dropped hard by the journeyman (it was the second round, if memory serves me -- he dropped Sconiers and then Sconiers dropped him), he got up on very [emphasis removed] wobbly legs, but he survived.” Fightnews correspondent Morales also reported that Wilder “survived a major scare” against Sconiers and was only ‘saved’ from being knocked out due to the second-round bell.

Wilder had been moulded into an invincible-like figure in the realm of boxing prior to the Fury trilogy fight. He was once undefeated and had knocked out every single one of his opponents in brutal fashion ahead of his first encounter with the Gypsy King in 2018. Sure, Stiverne might have lasted 12 rounds against Wilder in their initial clash, but the Bronze Bomber carved through him like a red-hot knife cutting through butter in the rematch. Wilder maintained this incredible auro around him, despite Ortiz causing trouble for him in their 2018 fight. The Bronze Bomber staunchly protected himself against his knockdown at the hands of Sconiers, saying that he had been hit with a “rabbit punch.” Wilder told WNSP Sports Radio 105.5 FM in 2017: “Early in my career, I got dropped. I got a rabbit punch in the back of the neck. When the punch happened instantly my neck started to swell. There was a knot back there. It was a blackout type of feeling. By the time I got back up, the ref was in my face and I was like, ‘What’s going on?’” Jay Deas, a long-time co-trainer for Wilder, echoed similar sentiments and played down Sconiers’ knockdown. “Yes, yes, yes. Fought Harold Sconiers, who didn’t have a great record but had just knocked out Andre Purlette, who was 40 wins and three losses the fight before he fought Deontay, so we knew he was a live guy,” he told Thaboxingvoice in 2017. “Deontay knocked him down two or three times, I think, and moved in for the kill and Sconiers threw a punch and it landed kind of on the back of Deontay’s head. But it still counted. Deontay took it well, got up and stopped it in the next round. So, it can happen to anybody. It’s just one of those things in boxing. Behind the head, but hey, it’s boxing. What are you going to do, complain?” Deas added: “You got to get back up and you got to do the job.”

Wilder and Deas remain firm on their respective accounts of where the punch that floored the Bronze Bomber landed, but the repercussions were certainly felt. While Sconiers might have become another name added to the long-running list of opponents who were knocked out by Wilder, his knockdown was a real taste of adversity for the Tuscaloosa-born star. What is even more damning is the account of an eye witnesses who was at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. According to World Boxing News (WBN), the onlooker claimed Wilder was “‘down longer than 10 seconds’ and saved by the bell versus Sconiers in 2010.” Sconiers has publicly remained silent on his views over the knockdown for over a decade. From the media coverage to the Wilder camp’s position to fans’ views, there is no definitive answer to the “rabbit punch” claim. But, more importantly, what does Sconiers feel about the punch? Perhaps it’s the change in life he’s had outside of boxing that adds to his humble character, but Sconiers couldn’t rule out the punch was to the back of the head. He had no intention of slamming Wilder’s team for saying what they said, but in his mind, his telegraphed punch hit the bullseye. “Of course, I can’t say for sure [it was a rabbit punch]… now,” Sconiers admitted, pausing for a moment with his hand on his chest. “That was definitely not my intention. I… you know in my heart, I believe it was a clean shot. But as I said, I had my head basically down, I was dipping into the punch, so I didn’t even see the shot when it landed. Is it possible that it could have been a rabbit punch? It’s possible. You know, ‘cause he was leaning into it and I was coming over the top, but at the same time, there is a lot of incentive for them to say that, even if it wasn’t. So, I’m not gonna attack anyone’s character and say that they’re lying. [Laughs] There’s a lot of things at play because that’s how they saw it afterwards. People’s minds kind of twist [or] turn things the way they wanna see it or the way that makes sense for them, but I don’t think I hit him with a rabbit punch. But yet I can’t dispute it 100 per cent.”

The Lost Footage And The Journeyman’s Transition Away From Boxing

Deontay Wilder dropped Harold Sconiers four times before securing a stoppage win in the fourth round. Credit: Fantasy Springs’ Flickr.
Deontay Wilder dropped Harold Sconiers four times before securing a stoppage win in the fourth round. Credit: Fantasy Springs’ Flickr.

Sconiers’ legacy has been intertwined with Wilder’s heavyweight career, which was only amplified by his former opponent’s incredible rise to the top. However, another key component of the Wilder vs Sconiers story has become riddled with questions and conspiracy theories: where’s the footage from the fight? That’s right, it seems to have vanished. Golden Boy’s Twitter page has links to ‘yfrog.com’ accounts that are dead, old YouTube links are broken and there is nobody trying to sell the footage on eBay. Only a single image of the knockdown seems to exist, with Wilder planted on the canvas while leaning against the bottom rope and Sconiers leaning against the top rope. Aside from the aforementioned picture, first-hand accounts from inside the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, media reports and what both fighters endured in the ring that night confirm the knockdown happened. In the day and age of social media and the internet, it’s hardly surprising that conspiracy theories emerged about the lost footage. Was it to protect Wilder’s image? Did nobody record the knockdown on their phones? Who pulled online footage from the fight? Is the footage locked away in a secret vault protected by Smaug the dragon? It’s hard to believe a fight from only 11 years ago appears to have been scrubbed from the internet. Footage of martial arts icon Bruce Lee competing in a ‘real’ fight exists online, but Wilder vs Sconiers doesn’t exist, whether in actual TV footage or fan-captured videos. One fan wrote on Boxing News 24 Forum: “It really can’t be found, erased from the whole internet...” While someone else posted: “[…] And I have been looking for that footage for many years. It is most likely erased from the web.” Another boxing fan said: “I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it once upon a time. From my recollection, Sconiers caught Wilder against the ropes and launched a robotic but accurate uppercut to Wilder in close, then tried to follow up as Wilder was dropping and lost his footing. Wilder looked rattled but not totally out of it, and managed to get back into the fight shortly after.” It’s unsurprising, to be honest, to see fans suggest that the Holy Grail might be easier to find than a tape of Wilder vs Sconiers.

Sconiers doesn’t have a copy of the footage either. Footage of the fight would allow boxing fans who haven’t seen it before it was pulled to decide if Wilder’s former opponent hit him with a so-called rabbit punch. Sconiers laughs when we insist that we aren’t picking his brains on a conspiracy angle over the footage. He candidly offers his two cents on the lost footage -- an important piece of boxing history -- both with a serious assessment on what he believes happened and hilariously dabbles in the conspiracies. Sconiers recalled that fights from the event were recorded, and following on from the Wilder clash, he put on his PI hat in a bid to discover what happened to the footage. “Well, I’ll tell you what: at the fight, all the matches were recorded,” he said. “I remember the TV crew signalling us to come out and the camera guy backing up, backing us up to the ring, just like in all of my other fights. Cameraman’s over the rope and in the corner and stuff like that. So, it was recorded just like the other fights that night. However, like you said, that fight was obliterated, disappeared from existence. I tried to find it afterwards and from what I know, there were a couple of people, I think, who were posting it or who had it. And I heard from several sources that they were warned basically with copyright, to be sued for copyright infringement. I don’t know if it was from Golden Boy or from one of their partners, but as far as I know, everybody kind of got threatened and ordered to take it down and they got deleted and it was wiped out. That fight, I could never find it anywhere. As far as I know, maybe it doesn’t exist, maybe it’s in a vault somewhere, maybe it’s just burned or [laughs] it was erased completely from the Earth. But what I do feel I feel it was purposeful. Like I said, all the fights were recorded, other fights made the airwaves that took place that night at that event. And this one, I feel it was a very smart marketing strategy because afterwards Wilder went on to achieve such huge notoriety and fame, and who knows if that would have tarnished his image or he wouldn’t have got some of the bigger shots that he got later on. Yeah, wipe it from existence. Nobody sees, nobody knows. All you have his hearsay. So, basically, it’s like it doesn’t count. And as far as a marketing strategy, I do believe that’s probably what it was, and I think it was highly successful and hey [laughs], I got to applaud them for that because he did go on to do a lot of great things.”

The accusations over Golden Boy’s involvement, of course, are unsubstantiated and widely debated in fan conspiracy theories. SPORTbible reached out to Golden Boy for comment on the existence of footage in its archives and any involvement in pulling it from online but did not hear back at the time of publishing. Sconiers’ claims that the fight was recorded can be backed up, of course. WBN editor Phil Jay reported in July 2020 that Wilder vs Sconiers was recorded and confirmed that video evidence of the clash still exists. “But WBN can reveal that Wilder vs. Sconiers was recorded inside the arena,” he wrote. “Also, that video evidence of the bout is out there somewhere. It does exist.”

It’s not easy to walk away from boxing. After all, Wilder’s fierce rival Fury has helped amplify the message of battling against mental health after his time out of boxing. The current WBC champ has even admitted that he is fearful of life after his career as a boxer, with his intense training regime becoming a vital mechanic in his battle with mental health. Sconiers knew his time in boxing had to come to an end, but landing on his current path wasn’t easy. The former boxer stepped into the realm of spiritual healing and adopted a new career path as a life coach and meditation instructor, too. According to Sconiers’ LinkedIn profile, his work allows him to “help entrepreneurs release the fears that keep them unhappy, unfulfilled and stuck, so they can wake up every day feeling energised, inspired, and excited to see what comes next.” Sconiers admitted that he found himself in a rut during his boxing career and in “incredible emotional turmoil.” The motivation and hunger that drove him into the sport had vanished, but more importantly, he found that the foundations holding his life together were no longer there. “Well, let’s see,” says Sconiers, putting his head down before adding: “so there was a point in my boxing career where I would say… if you look at my BoxRec, you can see my career going up for maybe three-four years and then it just starts to go down. That decline took place because I was going through this incredible emotional turmoil. This loss of self, this feeling as though I had no foundation in life. I unpacked that years later, but you know when I got into boxing, as I said, I got into it for a lot of the wrong reasons. And I think that a lot guys they get into sports like this and really push themselves because they’re either running away from something or running towards something. Guys may be running away from poverty or feeling like they’re not enough or being criticised or feeling insufficient or running towards these trappings of success and fame and things like that -- these superficial things. And you know what happens you get to a certain point where you’ve been pushing yourself and what you’re looking for still isn’t there. You look inside and there’s just a bigger void -- it still isn’t there. So, I reach that point and I started to crash. Suddenly, I couldn’t motivate myself to go to the gym as much, to train as hard, I began to drink heavily and for a short period of time I was into substance abuse, on and off. That took me down a road which led me into the county jail for a short period of time here and there. This terrible downwards spiral took place.

Deontay Wilder connecting with a clean shot on Harold Sconiers. Credit: Fantasy Springs’ Flickr.
Deontay Wilder connecting with a clean shot on Harold Sconiers. Credit: Fantasy Springs’ Flickr.

“There was a point, though, about three years down that path I stopped and I kind of woke up and it was like waking up from a dream and I started asking questions: ‘How did I end up getting from here where I was this up-and-coming guy, pretty successful to where I am at now?’ I had a string of losses, I was unmotivated, I was unfulfilled by life. And I started getting into personal development and it really just made a huge difference for me. I mean, my internal problems started disappearing, my life started transforming and getting better and I actually developed a freelance writing business, so I’ve been a writer for a long time. I did that for more than 11-12 years […]. So from self-development, you know I became a life coach and started coaching other people and helping them experience the same kinds of transformations.”

Sconiers might have found his “calling” with his current profession, but his former rival sits in an interesting predicament. No longer undefeated and without the WBC championship, Wilder has suffered devastating back-to-back defeats to Fury. It would seem that the Bronze Bomber isn’t done with boxing, with head trainer Malik Scott (38-3-1) confirming the 2008 Olympian will return to action against a credible opponent in his first fight back. But what if, hypothetically speaking, Wilder sought the advice of a life coach on what to do next? And, say, what if that life coach Wilder reached out to was none other than Sconiers himself? “I would say that even though, even though I never won a championship belt or had the kind of stats that he did, what I could tell him for sure is that those things in the end they don’t matter,” he said. “You know what I mean? You know, feeling whole and complete within, nurturing your inner self -- that is the best way back from any scenario, whether you stay in boxing or go another route. It also emanates from your own experience of self, how you see yourself. So, the fame’s nice, the money’s nice, but it’s not really a reflection of who any of us truly is. So, I would kind of suggest -- from my experience -- that everything that’s taken place is okay and if he wanted to come back, he should do that from a place of choice but not as though he has to prove anything. He’s done so much and he only has to live with himself and not with the opinions of anyone else. So as long as he satisfies that one, being himself, it’s all good.”

Featured Image Credit: Fantasy Springs/Flickr

Topics: Deontay Wilder, Boxing, Heavyweight Boxing, Spotlight

Adnan Riaz
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