Twenty-Eighten almost came and went with no super-fight offerings from boxing’s glamour division. Fortunately, just as all heavyweight hope seemed to be evaporating, “The Bronze Bomber” Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KO’s) and “The Gypsy King” Tyson Fury (27-0, 19 KO’s) blessed us all, agreeing to throw hands, restoring luster to the game’s marquee weight class. These two giants duke it out this Saturday December 1st, from Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA., live on Showtime Pay-Per-View. At stake will be Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title and the lineal championship that Fury not only acquired from Wladimir Klitschko, but never relinquished in a prizefight.
With all due respect to WBA, IBF and WBO champion, Anthony Joshua, he was perfectly content with leaving fans hanging in 2018. His unification with Joseph Parker was a dud and the logical next move seemed to be Wilder. Favorable split of the money, home court advantage, rematch clause, Wilder conceded everything to Joshua in the negotiations, to no avail. Joshua and his brain-trust designated Alexander Povetkin for assignment instead and though it was a good scrap, it wasn’t anticipated or highly coveted. Nor did it resonate; not the way Wilder-Fury already has.
Mutually brash and outspoken, Wilder and Fury have expertly sold this affair from its infant stage. Quickly hammering out the contractual details, Deontay “invading” the weigh-in of Tyson’s most recent bout, getting in the ring after Fury was victorious, BT Sports table talk, Showtime All-Access, the whole nine. It’s become apparent they like each other more than probably expected, but there’ll be no love shared when the opening bell tolls, as evidenced by Wednesday’s final press conference. When ego’s and legacy are at stake, niceties are understandably put to the side.
Believe it or not, Deontay Wilder not only walked into a boxing gym at the age of 20, he was an Olympic bronze medalist and world champion within 10 years. To have solidified himself as one of the best pure punchers in recent memory, makes his journey that much more amazing. Standing 6’7 with a sleek, sinewy, NBA power forward’s frame, Wilder’s the latest in a long line of tall, thinly built fighters with destructive power in their hands. Tommy Hearns, Bob Foster, Sandy Saddler, Alexis Arguello, Diego Corrales, Wilder’s cut from that cloth; and he’s universally regarded as the hardest puncher in the business, currently. It’s the way Deontay’s fists detonate on impact that masks his technical and stylistic shortcomings. “I’m the first of my kind. I never mimicked another man’s style”, he explains. Wilder is a fitting surname for a man who throws bombs will reckless abandon, a veritable street fighter if ever there was one; “Windmill Wilder”.
Tyson Fury is not just a befitting boxing moniker, the man’s entire existence is predicated on fist fighting; a descendant of Irish Travellers, Fury’s combative lineage dates back at least three centuries. His father named him after the iconic Mike Tyson and the rest could be history in the making. At 6’9, with a barrel chested, Gerry Cooney body-type, Fury’s a book easily misjudged by its cover. In his own words he has “Floyd Mayweather heavyweight defense” ripe with excellent footwork and use of the ring, feints, slipping, sliding, etc. He’s the picture of relaxation and composure in the ring. He befuddled and bamboozled Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, fulfilling the legacy of his ancestry, becoming the lineal heavyweight champion of the world. But just as Fury reached the ultimate career high, things quickly spiraled out of control courtesy of drugs, alcohol, anxiety and battles with depression. Fury was stripped of his title, contemplated suicide and ballooned up to 400 pounds. Upon his return to the ring in 2018, Tyson was candid about his struggles and firmly believes he’s on the brink of one of boxing’s more memorable comeback stories, rivaling those of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard or George Foreman.
Fury’s undefeated in verbal altercations and the lead up to this fight has been no different. He’s playfully referred to Wilder as a “basketball player”, makes fun of his “Bronze Bomber” label, calling him a “third place man”, yet is acutely aware of the danger his foe presents. The legit one-punch power of Wilder actually motivates Fury and he believes it will bring the best of him. For what it’s worth, Wilder’s spoken on familiar themes, “Bomb Squad”, “speak it, believe it, receive it”, “one champion, one face, one name”, but in the process he’s guaranteed a knockout.
Without question, Tyson Fury can win this fight. His skill, boxing acumen, ring IQ, size, mobility and unflappability are assets that will trouble Deontay Wilder for certain. But Deontay’s no front runner, and he was completely undeterred by superior boxers like Artur Szpilka, Gerald Washington and Luis Ortiz, who were all knocked out eventually. No different from all the rest. Fury’s comeback is admirable, and he’ll remain a player in the heavyweight landscape for as long as he chooses, but whether it’s round 1 or round 12, he’s getting KO’ed Saturday night. As Wilder himself said, “I don’t know when it’s gon’ come, but it’s coming!”