Coincidences, according to some, do not exist in many situations. The business of boxing is no different as we saw earlier this month with a series of events that shifted the spotlight twice in the heavyweight division.
The first shoe to drop came on the first day of the year in England when the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) aired a story on its Panorama newsmagazine show called “Boxing and the Mob.” The show made waves in Britain, but since it was not broadcast here did not catch fire in the States.
The program was a blistering account of the rise of an Irish man named Daniel Kinahan in the boxing world. According to the story, he started backing British boxers and having them train in Spain with an outfit called MGM (not the media/casino company) a few years ago.
If you have not heard of Kinahan, you are not alone. But in Europe, many believe his is one of the most ruthless organized crime families in the world. The criminal organization is allegedly involved with drugs, money laundering, and murder. The BBC story goes into many of the affairs of the group including a homicide near their base in Spain and a 2016 assassination by a rival gang at a weigh-in for a fight in Ireland where Kinahan was one of the targets.
This is vital because Kinahan’s group backed Tyson Fury who defeated Tuscaloosa’s Deontay Wilder for the WBC Heavyweight title last February. Fury was backed by MGM, which later publicly declared Kinahan was no longer part of the group and changed their name to MTK Global. However, Fury announced in a brief video posted on social media in June that his advisor Daniel Kinahan had been instrumental in putting together a fight between him and fellow British heavyweight Anthony Joshua.
For Wilder’s part, he has said there were many things about his match with Fury that seemed off by his standards. The most important allegation was trainer Mark Breland stopping the fight. Wilder was furious at Breland for not allowing the fight end on his terms and fired him. He also claimed his water was possibly tampered with. Many dismissed these claims, deriding Wilder for being sore over his loss. But later in the month, a coincidence occurred that is hard to overlook.
It was apparent MTK Global looked to get the spotlight away from their operations after the damaging BBC story. After all, who would want to sign with a company connected to organized crime? They needed to get the heat off them in the press, and they found someone to do it, none other than Mark Breland.
The sacking of Breland was revealed in October 2020, more than four months ago. But the week of MTK Global’s major publicity problems, Breland coincidentally decided to do his first interview after his forced parting of ways. In yet another coincidence, the hosts of that interview were none other than MTK Global personalities Spencer Fearon and Tunde Ajayi.
The broadcast served the purpose of distracting people from the Fury/Kinahan story. Breland made allegations about Wilder’s preparation including unwillingness to jump rope and work the heavy bag. He made several digs at his co-trainer Jay Deas, and claimed he never handled Wilder’s water. This was quickly debunked by several people on social media who produced video and photographs of Wilder jumping rope and working the heavy bag. Also, a picture of Breland handling water between rounds in the fight widely circulated. Wilder also hit back at Breland for being ungrateful and said he should have been removed from the team years ago but did not do so due to Wilder’s loyalty.
But the question is, why would Breland decide to do his first interview after his firing on a British platform? And of all British media outlets, why a fringe podcast closely aligned with Tyson Fury and MTK Global? Unlike the United States, Great Britain’s main newspapers have writers dedicated to the sport of boxing. But in the U.S., there are numerous websites, bloggers, and radio hosts that cover the sport. Several media companies, like ESPN, have writers dedicated to boxing. Many are excellent at covering the sport and a Breland interview has been highly sought after. Breland is not a media neophyte. He is a former Olympic gold medalist and a former Welterweight Champion. He knows how to reach American reporters. It would seem a trainer who is trying to keep his name alive around his home base of Brooklyn would appreciate some coverage in the United States. Instead, he went to a small-time promoter affiliated with MTK Global that no one in the U.S. knows.
With a little digging, these “coincidences” look shadier. The very first person to report a rift between Breland and Wilder was none other than Spencer Fearon. Fearon has attempted to make headlines for himself before. He reported that Breland was banned from Wilder’s locker room after the Fury fight. When pressed for a source, Fearon became defensive and refused to confirm where he got his information after initially saying a former boxer told him. On a follow up, a source in the locker room reported the former boxer was not in the locker room or near it and that Breland was in fact inside the locker room. This creates questions though. Of all the reporters in Vegas the night of the title fight, was Fearon able to talk with Breland? How did he have that access? Fearon never appeared in Wilder’s camp before the fight and the connection between him and Breland is unknown.
Instead of covering up the link between Kinahan and Fury, MTK Global created a new mystery about their link to Mark Breland. Was there a connection before the Fury fight? How were they able to convince Breland to do an interview? Did Breland receive compensation from them before or since the fight?
As for Fury, he has been silent about being tied to MTK Global since these stories broke. His Twitter account has mostly posted inane videos of his training, but he did take a shot at Wilder by retweeting a story covering Breland’s interview, so we know he has kept up with some news at least. Fury no doubt is aware of the negative publicity about Kinahan serving as his advisor but has refused to say anything in public about the story. Kinahan has responded, making Fury’s silence even more deafening.
But the coincidences are too much to ignore. There is now a very real connection between the Fury camp, MTK Global, Daniel Kinahan, and Mark Breland. An investigation should ensue to discover if anything untoward occurred that fateful night in Las Vegas last February, but also to clean up the sport of boxing in general.