WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder apologized Sunday after it was widely reported that he broke an ESPN mascot performer’s jaw on live TV. But the 40-0 boxer can rest easy: ESPN says that the performer is just fine.
“Reports are innacurate. No injury was caused to the Mascot performer during the Nación ESPN segment,” an ESPN representative told TheWrap on Sunday.
Earlier this month, Wilder sat down with Nación ESPN’s Adicto al Boxeo to talk about his upcoming title-defending bout against British boxer Tyson Fury. Near the end of the segment, Wilder was invited to take out his impatience to get the fight started on a BOB punching dummy brought out just for the occasion.
Wilder went to town on the dummy, actually knocking it to the ground and then, egged on by the hosts, he held a joke-sparring match with the network’s colorful sombrero-wearing mascot to determine the “Heavyweight Nación ESPN.”
It went exactly as you’d expect, considering that Wilder has won all but one of his fights by knockout. He punched the mascot in the costume’s face, sending the mascot down on his back pretending to flail about. See for yourself in the clip above.
The whole thing was clearly a gag. The hosts were laughing during the whole thing, they expressly invited Wilder to take the punch, and the very game mascot was protected by a costume featuring a sturdy plastic face attached to a thick cloth body suit. The segment ended cheerfully with no indication that anyone was hurt, and the clip went unnoticed for almost two weeks.
Then, some time last week, a YouTuber uploaded video of the interview with the title “breaking news! deontay wilder breaks a mans jaw on live tv!” This was followed by uploads from other YouTubers with similar titles, some calling the incident a sucker punch.
And so it is that by Saturday, multiple media outlets reported that the mascot’s jaw was broken, prompting Wilder to issue an apology on Instagram.
View this post on Instagram
Yea, Anything headlining I didn’t know a “Human Being” was in there is just straight “Click Baiting” like come on now, I guess the Mascot rolled out there. show so respect! I sincerely apologize to the brave man that was injured (if this is true) I have the up most high respect for him, his participation, willingness and courage. If this is true @nacionespn I personally would like to invite him to my Dec.1 fight. Word Is Bond✊???? -CHAMP #BombZquad #PeoplesChamp
That’s a great offer, and despite the fact the reports aren’t true, we hope the mascot performer still gets to attend the Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury fight on Dec. 1.
In the meantime, the performer can at least enjoy being one of the few people to box with Wilder who wasn’t actually knocked out. Good work.