Mark Breland: Class Personified

36 years ago this week (November 15, 1984) Mark Breland boxed his first pro fight. Just recently the 57-year-old has been in a far bigger fight – that of maintaining his good name. It was always going to be an easily winnable battle for Breland, as anybody that knows him even a little bit knew; these people fully understanding how classy, how honest, how sincere he is. Yet one man who should know Mark better than most people recently accused Breland of conspiring against him, of being involved in the “plot” to do him in.

This is of course Deontay Wilder, and fans are well aware of the crazy allegations the former WBC heavyweight champ has hurled at Breland, his co-trainer (as well as at a whole bunch of other people). Breland, who was there for Wilder long before “The Bronze Bomber” won the world title, has shown the class and dignity we should never have doubted from him, as he had to listen to a disorientated Wilder come out with his flimflam.

If you want to read what Breland has had to say about this unpleasant time in his career as a trainer and advice-giver, you can do so via his Instagram page. Breland never once mentions Wilder’s name in his from-the-heart message. Again, class with a big, bold C.

As a boxer, Breland is known as arguably the finest US amateur ever (and not too many people are arguing against his claim to the distinction). No less than X5 did Breland win the New York Golden Gloves. Breland also won Olympic gold, this at the celebrated 1984 Games. No wonder it was tough for Breland – who finished up with an amazing 110-1(73) amateur record – to be as successful at pro level.

Still, Breland did become a two-time welterweight champion. The tall, skinny and slick yet full of heart boxer had his problems with the vastly underrated and underappreciated Marlon Starling (a stoppage loss and a kindly awarded draw), but Breland did twice get his hands on the WBA title. Breland captured good wins over the likes of Lloyd Honeyghan, Rafael Pineda, Buck Smith, Seung Soon Lee and Harold Volbrecht. Breland also fought an absolute war with Aaron Davis.

Breland experienced it all during his tenure inside the ropes. No wonder he made a fine, honest and caring trainer; a knowledgeable figure looking in from the outside, happy to take a back seat in terms of publicity and acknowledgment. Breland, as ego-free a world champ as you could dare to find in a sport full of attention-craving big heads, had been there, he had seen it all, he had felt it all. Deontay Wilder could not have been in better, more trustworthy hands.

What a shame Wilder couldn’t see that.