A couple of weeks ago, New Orleans Pelicans sharpshooter J.J. Reddick went off on the idea of a carefully selected pre-game outfit. “This is an issue, I really believe this,” he said while listing out a number of modern-day distractions young players get caught up in...while hosting his own podcast. “There's more guys concerned with getting a pre-game fit on Instagram than they are worrying about the win and loss of a basketball game." The standard response? O.K. Boomer. But Reddick may have a bit of evidence to hang his fedora on: former heavyweight world titlist Deontay Wilder told ESPN that his pre-game outfit was partially to blame for his loss against Tyson Fury on Saturday night.
For his walk to the ring, Wilder wore an elaborate knight costume, replete with a bedazzled mask with eyes that glowed like embers and a spiky crown and skulls protruding from his shoulders and belt. It was probably enough to make Game of Thrones producers wonder if they should reboot the show, or at least if Wilder had looted their archives. But while it made a real impression before his match, the outfit took a real toll, according to Wilder.
“I paid a severe price because my legs were how they were because of my uniform,” Wilder told ESPN. “My uniform was way too heavy. It was 40-plus pounds. We had it on 10 or 15 minutes before we even walked out and then put the helmet on. That was extra weight, then the ring walk, then going up the stairs. It was like a real workout for my legs. When I took it off, I knew immediately that the game had changed."
Even Bob Arum, Fury’s co-promoter, said he was surprised to see Wilder’s costume. "Well, I don't know about the legs affecting his performance, but he had to be very, very negligent coming in with that head covering because that choked off his oxygen, and I'm sure that had an effect," he said. Whether it was his legs, a lack of oxygen, or a deadly combination of both, Wilder’s corner threw in the towel against Fury during the seventh round.
Here at GQ there are few things we love more than a Big Fit. We constantly find ourselves gawking at Absolute Units, in awe at the size of the latest lad. But here we seemingly have a case of the fit being too big, the unit too absolute. In sports, Deion Sanders’s theory reigns supreme: that when you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you play good. Wilder’s 40-pound outfit is the counterpoint: he looked great, but at what cost?