Scot Norman previews the colossal Heavyweight clash that has boxing world talking.
16th October, 2018.
Imagine your response to the following question – Can a man who had a 2 year “sabbatical” from boxing due to a serious battle with depression, come back to the sport and in his third fight back win the WBC Heavyweight championship?
The general response would be “absolutely no chance”.
What if you were told the returning boxer was the “Gypsy King” Tyson Fury? What if you were told the current champion he would fight is Deontay Wilder? Now you’re talking!
December 1st 2018 will see the lineal and former unified Champion of the World, Tyson Fury step up to face the WBC Heavyweight champion, the American Deontay Wilder in a PPV fight which has the boxing world talking.
Before his absence from boxing, Fury was generally seen as the best in the division after outclassing Wladimir Klitschko over 12 rounds to win the WBA Super, WBO, IBO and IBF heavyweight championship belts on the road in Germany. Klitschko had been beaten 3 times before, but never beaten like he was in against Fury (He’s since been beaten by Anthony Joshua). He was befuddled, confused, and had no idea how to combat Fury’s awkward but extremely effective offense.
This should have been the start of a Hall of Fame career for Fury, top of the mountain, the division at his mercy, the next UK PPV star, basically what Anthony Joshua is now. But the bright lights proved too much and he couldn’t win his well-documented fight with depression and he ended up in a dark place for over 2 years. Most thought his career was over, and with good reason.
What to make of Deontay Wilder? An American Olympic Bronze medallist, with a record of 40-0 ,who at times looks like he has never boxed before in his life, won the WBC Heavyweight Championship in 2015 when beating Bermane Stiverne in his 33rd fight, which at the time was regarded as his best win.
That should tell you all about the level of fighters Wilder had built his record on.
However, for all Wilder is lacking in boxing ability, there isn’t a man on the planet who hits as hard, and as nastily as him. His power is very, very real. Only Stiverne has managed to hear the final bell when facing Wilder and that has since been rectified as he was smashed in 2 rounds in a 2017 re-match.
Along with Stiverne, Wilder’s resume features names such as Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas, Arthur Szpilka, Chris Arreola, and Gerald Washington; not exactly the Mount Rushmore of heavyweights, however they have all fallen victim to Wilders power, along with most recently “King Kong” Luis Ortiz. Ortiz was no doubt Wilders toughest fight on paper and for 9 rounds, looked like he was on his way to beating the champ with his slick boxing skills, which had Wilder hitting thin air and almost being stopped after being hurt several times. However Wilder eventually landed that one big punch, and Ortiz went down, just like the others. Wilder is as good a finisher as there is, and doesn’t let up when he has you hurt. Ortiz never stood a chance and was stopped in the 10th round in vicious fashion.
Back on this side of the pond, our current heavyweight star, Anthony Joshua, was going about his business rather well. Facing and defeating a far better list of fighters than Wilder had ever faced –Klitschko, Takam, Parker and Povetkin – and becoming the man seen as the king of the Heavyweight division, winning all of the belts Fury had been stripped of.
It should have been so easy to make, the best against the best, champion v champion, the fight the fans were demanding, Wilder v AJ, who is really the undisputed heavyweight champion….but this is boxing after all, and once again the ego of the fighters/promoters/management teams got in the way. The fans don’t always (very rarely actually) get what they want, as the story usually goes like this – the two sides fight amongst each other over petty little things in the contract, then one side walks away and blames the other side, who do exactly the same, and it turns into a “he said, she said” squabble. It seemed Eddie Hearn and Lou DiBella would eventually make the fight as there was too much fan demand, and more importantly a lot of money to be made. Who else is there for Wilder to fight that would generate the casual fans interest…….?
While the AJ and Wilder camps were in the middle of arguing with each other, the “Gypsy King” had returned to boxing after a three year absence. By returning to boxing, I mean he fought two opponents David Haye in his DAVE comeback stage would have been proud of – Sefer Seferi (RTD-Rd4) and Francesco Piantea (PTS)- and won easily as expected. This is not a knock against Tyson, after 2 years out the sport you can’t expect him to return and immediately fight the best on offer.
The general consensus was that he’d have another 2 or 3 fights of similar level opponents to sharpen up the skills before a serious challenge. Or so we all thought.
Tyson Fury is not man to follow the sensible blueprint others would.
What the public initially thought was a publicity stunt, Fury went on social media and claimed he had actually agreed to face Wilder, and all it took was a 5 minute phone call to the WBC champ.
Fans eyes rolled and dismissed the claim as typical Tyson, until Wilder emerged a few hours later and said the fight was agreed and the world best get ready! Fans were still (and some still are) unsure that the fight would happen, but contracts have been signed, the Staples Centre in Los Angeles booked, American and UK PPV agreed, and the fight is, at this moment, amazingly on.
I’m pretty sure this was not the plan for the comeback of the “Gypsy King” – 2 fights against patsy’s and then Deontay Wilder, but that’s what we are getting. Certainly no-one is complaining. The fight looks and smells like it was made to firmly stick it to Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua, maybe in an attempt to make it look like it was them who refused to make the AJ/Wilder fight – whether it was is a debate for another day. Right now though, both Frank Warren and Tyson Fury should both be commended for stepping up and making the Wilder fight happen, whereas AJ against either Fury or Wilder seems a long way from happening at this current time.
Wilder v Fury is an intriguing fight on paper. The Tyson Fury of 2015, I don’t think many would argue, would likely win every round against a crude swinger like Wilder. He would likely be too clever to fall for any traps Wilder would try and lay to get him in range and would box on the back foot and try to confuse Wilder ala Klitschko, resulting in a comfortable decision win. The power of Wilder is always a threat and he may have caught Fury, who has been down before against a far weaker puncher in Steve Cunningham. This would’ve been Wilders only chance of beating Fury back then.
But this is 2018.
No matter what he says, Tyson Fury simply cannot be the same fighter he used to be after the abuse he put his body and overall health through, not to mention his three year absence from the ring.
Deontay Wilder appears to keep himself in phenomenal shape at all times and has been dedicated to the sport since his arrival on the scene. The same cannot always be said about Fury; however he has always had the skills and boxing ability to make up for it inside the ring.
Credit where credit is due, Fury is looking very slim and healthy, and is taking this fight very seriously under the tutelage of his new trainer Ben Davison, after the long term partnership with former trainer and uncle, Peter Fury, ended.
If he has even 80% of the boxing ability and ring IQ he had at his peak, this should still be a fairly easy fight for him to win. But the power of Wilder is always there as long as he is standing up, and he’ more than a live dog for every second that the fight lasts. It has for me only two possible outcomes; Fury by wide points, or Wilder by KO. Fury does not possess the power to knock out Wilder, nor Wilder the boxing skills to win on points (unless Tyson Fury is a shell of his former self, which we still do not know after his two fights since returning).
The bookmakers have Wilder currently a slight favourite as expected, however maybe the odds are too close given Fury’s lengthy break.
But for once, all the questions we all have will be answered when the two men step into the ring on December 1st and basically stick two fingers up to AJ & Hearn.