Butch Dill/Associated Press
WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders reportedly had an altercation at a Nando’s restaurant in Belfast on Friday, one day before Tyson Fury’s bout with Italian fighter Francesco Pianeta.
According to Natalie Evans of the Mirror, Saunders threw a half chicken at the Bronze Bomber, and the Brit was eventually forced to flee the restaurant.
TalkSport’s Michael Benson shared video footage of Saunders making his escape, with a friend of Wilder giving chase:
Michael Benson @MichaelBensonn
🐔 Cannot believe what I’m reading. Video of Deontay Wilder (in the red) chasing Billy Joe Saunders (grey and black camo shirt) out of Nando’s Belfast tonight after Saunders is said to have thrown chicken at him?!
[📽️ Hugh O’Halloran] https://t.co/NEzqy0ZnzX
He initially misidentified the man in red as Wilder himself, but reports later stated it wasn’t the WBC champion, per Evans.
Here’s another angle of the chase:
Boxing Insider.com @BoxingInsider
Billy jo Saunders went up to Deontay Wilder and threw some chicken at him and Wilders entourage chased him 🤷🏻♂️🐔 https://t.co/2nj28V56gu
Saunders and Wilder are both in Belfast to attend the card involving Fury, with Carl Frampton and Paddy Barnes also taking part in the action at Windsor Park. The Bronze Bomber and Gypsy King confronted each other during the weigh-ins and are expected to meet for a superfight later this year if the latter beats Pianeta.
Clashes between the two heavyweight stars were to be expected, but an incident between Wilder and Saunders was not.
Fans took to social media to express their disbelief, including Kugan Cassius of IFLTV:
Kugan Cassius @KuganCassius
Tyson Fury, John Fury, Deontay Wilder, Billy Joe Saunders and a quarter lemon & herb, all in Belfast at the same time. You can’t make this stuff up.
The undefeated Saunders has yet to fight in 2018, with a bout against Demetrius Andrade set for October. His last fight was a dominant decision-win over David Lemieux, beating the Canadian on his home turf in December.
Wilder beat Luis Ortiz earlier this year to take his unbeaten record to 40-0, and his next fight will likely be with Fury. The Brit returned to boxing earlier this year with a lackluster win over Sefer Seferi, but a good showing against Pianeta would signal his return as a genuine title contender.
The Gypsy King has a perfect record of 26-0 and previously held the lineal title after upsetting Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.