Many of the world’s best boxers reside in the lower weight divisions, but there’s something extra-special when the big men limber up, in this case, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, who do battle in Los Angeles this weekend.
Anyone who weighs over 100kg can do lasting damage with a single punch, although this is especially true of Wilder, who is statistically the heaviest puncher in heavyweight boxing history. With 39 KOs in 40 fights, the American knows how to short circuit his opponents.
He may be crude and unorthodox, but he has a savage instinct for hitting hard and will have every ambition of separating Fury from his senses.
Fury, in turn, is all legs and arms, a human threshing machine who is both big and seriously difficult to land against. With the longest jab in the business, he can frustrate opponents and mess with their defences.
The build-up has been typically loud and brash, which is to be expected from a pair of fighters who have never tasted defeat in a professional ring.
“It’s important to establish dominance,” said Wilder. “I say I’m the best, the baddestman on the planet. When it comes to Tyson Fury, I’m all about devastating knock-outs, it’s what I do.”
Fury, no shrinking violet, hit back: “I am no challenger for no man. I’m the linear heavyweight champion of the world, the best of the best.”
Wilder probably doesn’t have the skill-set to outbox Fury, but his power makes him dangerous for every second of every round. The WBC champion is shortest in price to win the fight during rounds 5-8.
Fury will likely aim to dominate over 12 rounds, but the Wilder equaliser might see him pulling out big shots of his own down the stretch.
There’s something special about the Heavyweight title. Always has been. Whether you think of the days of Ali, Foreman, and Frazier, or the days of Tyson, Holyfield, and Lewis, in boxing, the Heavyweight champion has long been the sign of the true pinnacle of the sport – the belt that truly names the baddest man on the planet.
Right now, that man is Tyson Fury, who only recently returned from a three-year absence.
One night, November 28, 2015. That’s the night Fury shocked the boxing world by upsetting Wladimir Klitschko. For a decade, Klitschko (along with his brother Vitali) had been the king of the Heavyweight division. Since the 2003 retirement of champion Lennox Lewis, the Klitschkos had dominated the division – not always in the most dramatic and exciting fashion, but they had dominated nonetheless. Then in 2015, Fury flipped the narrative, knocking Wladimir off his pedestal and claiming boxing’s top prize. Was it a good fight? No, not at all. But he won. He was the man.
And then, poof, he was gone. In the aftermath of the historic win, the always mercurial Fury started to really fall apart. He became even more erratic, he failed drug tests, he openly battled with depression, he put on a tremendous amount of weight, and his new titles were, one by one, taken from him. And he stopped boxing. Until now.
That’s why today’s showdown between Fury and Wilder is one of the year’s most must-watch fights for all combat sports fans. Because sure, the WBA and WBO and IBO and IBF and any other combination of letters can strip Fury of those titles, but they can’t change history. And history says Fury is the man who beat the man. Today, he returns to the big leagues. Standing across from him will be the American power punching machine Deontay Wilder – the most potentially exciting American Heavyweight since the Tyson days. And, just for an added bonus, the WBC champion too.
The winner here walks away from the WBC champion, the lineal champion, and the true man at Heavyweight. And he sets himself up for an even bigger fight with that other Heavyweight champion of the world, Anthony Joshua. For fans of Heavyweight boxing – for fans of combat sports period – this is the kind of fight you’ve been waiting for.
Meanwhile, former heavyweight champions Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield believe Tyson Fury can dethrone Deontay Wilder if Saturday’s WBC championship fight goes the distance.
While several former heavyweights believe Wilder possesses the punching power to force an early victory on Saturday, Lewis and Holyfield believe the odds will tilt in Fury’s favour the longer the fight goes on.
“I think with Deontay’s power, he might be able to end it early, but if Tyson can frustrate him and it goes the distance, then it could go his way,” Holyfield said Tuesday.
“Tyson’s always been the bigger fighter. In fighting Deontay it’s the same case. If things get difficult, he’s (Fury’s) got more experience and a lot of tricks.”
Lewis, the former undisputed heavyweight king, echoed Holyfield’s verdict.
“If it goes the distance then it belongs to Tyson Fury,” Lewis said. “If it’s a short fight it will belong to Deontay Wilder.”
Heavyweight legend Mike Tyson meanwhile believes Fury’s mental durability will carry him to the title.
Tyson said that Fury’s ability to rebuild his career after overcoming personal turmoil sets him apart from Wilder.
“Although Wilder’s punch is strong, nothing can compare to the mental strength Fury has shown both in and out of the ring,” Tyson said.
“It’ll be a close call, but I think Fury’s got a true fighting chance.” But former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe is backing Wilder’s punching power to overwhelm Fury early on.
“If Wilder comes out and means business then he should beat Fury with ease,” said Bowe, the undisputed heavyweight champion in 1992. “My prediction is Wilder by knockout!”
…Heavyweight Thriller to be Aired Live on DStv
The almighty heavyweight boxing clash between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury billed to hold on Saturday in Los Angeles, will be broadcast live on SuperSport 1 (Channel 221). The fight is exclusive to Premium customers at no extra charge.
The televised undercard, which starts at 3a.m. Nigerian time includes several top fighters.