Jim Gray put tough questions to Deontay Wilder and was harsh on Dominic Breazeale, but he wasn’t out of line.
Showtime dropped their finale of the All-Access mini-series with the epilogue, featuring fight night footage and video of the detonation on Dominic Breazeale by Deontay Wilder.
The mini-sode didn’t, however, feature the much talked about post-fight interview gone off the rails, when Jim Gray drew online buzz for supposedly insulting Luis Ortiz and Dominic Breazeale, by telling Wilder that no one wanted to see him fight those guys, but that people crave Wilder-Fury II and Wilder-Joshua.
I get why they didn’t insert that element — they are loyal to Gray, who is just about a Showtime lifer at this point.
I talked about that Gray kerfuffle on the latest Everlast “Talkbox” podcast, and, indeed, I defended the interrogator. (1:18:34)
Gray said to Wilder after the KO-1 win, “With all due respect to these other opponents, the public does not want to see (Andy) Ruiz, the public does not want to see Dominic Breazeale, the public does not want to see whoever this guy is that’s fighting Tyson Fury. They want to see you three fight, like Ali fought Frazier, like Ali fought Foreman, like Foreman fought Frazier…”
Wilder answered the query and basically told us that we can be patient, and those big bouts will come. He nodded while Gray questioned him, while Breazeale stood behind Gray, apparently fuming. Then Gray asked the winner to describe the KO, and yes, it probably didn’t feel good for the loser to see the slo-mo of him getting laid out.
Then, Gray asked Breazeale to talk, and Breazeale blew him off. Trainer Virgil Hunter tried to explain to Gray while Dominic walked away from Gray; Gray, knowing he had a live mic, ignored him. Ortiz took the Gray question instead, and was asked if he thought that Wilder-Ortiz II would be next. That chat was short and Gray threw to Mauro Ranallo.
Social media went off on Gray, calling him disrespectful. And to a point, I get that point. But I’m on Team Gray on this matter. Yes, his phrasing was pointed. It wasn’t couched, it wasn’t softened. He said, right in front of Breazeale, a brutal truth.
He wasn’t lying, he didn’t pull a punch when he said that no, fans would prefer that Wilder would fight Fury again, or battle AJ rather than Breazeale and Ortiz. And that hurt the feelings of a man who’d just been dropped and stopped, so he was probably physically and emotionally hurting.
But he seemed to be cognizant, and he was clear-headed enough to make the choice to blow off Gray. That choice wasn’t the right one; he could have taken the question, and told Gray that he felt disrespected. Because yes, that was in his contract, part of that $1.5 million or whatever he got paid. To answer questions, win or lose, if he was well enough. Because fans watch, invest their time, and they want to know the ins and outs and ups and downs about what they saw.
The winner gets talked to, as does the loser. It’s tradition, and no, Gray didn’t say anything that warranted Breazeale walking off in a huff. That night or the next morning, Breazeale also suspended his Instagram and Twitter accounts, so it seems like he wasn’t at all in the mood to hear what he figured would be unkind feedback from fight fans.
On the podcast, I told listeners that I understand people thinking Gray, who has had these sorts of incidents before, was out of line — but nah, Gray was actually speaking as a fan, and good God, don’t most people most of the time think that journos and people like Gray aren’t tough enough, that they toss too many softballs?
“Overall, I’m gonna defend Jim Gray,” I said, and noted that on this occasion, Gray was tough, but not off-the-rails so. “Overall he’s getting slings and arrows and buzzed at because people said he was being mean. You can’t win in this day and age. Jim Gray is not there to always make people feel comfortable. Overall, I’d rather have that style than the opposite,” I opined.
I invited Breazeale to talk to listeners about his choice, shed more light for us, I am at @Woodsy1069 on Twitter if he cares to set up a visit. We recognize that after getting kayoed, one might be off kilter somewhat.
But no, Jim Gray wasn’t out of line on Saturday night.