Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will face each other again almost 15 months on from a controversial draw that left punters desperate for a re-run of their thrilling affair in Los Angeles.
Tickets in Las Vegas are exchanging hands for thousands of dollars, the fighters are volleying spiteful words at one another with gusto and pundits who have frequented Sin City more times than they care to remember have labelled the occasion a “monster”.
Somewhere amid the chaos is the prize of Wilder’s WBC world title. If Fury wins it, all four heavyweight belts will be shared between two British fighters – him and Anthony Joshua, who holds the IBF, WBA and WBO titles.
It is the biggest heavyweight bout in 20, 30, or – if you listen to Fury – close to 50 years. And the hype is not lost on this city of bright lights and razzmatazz. Fight billboards run the length of the famous Strip; on the ground of the MGM Grand itself, three boxing rings act as stages for US TV networks.
“I have been coming here 25 years and I have never seen this kind of investment into the building of hype of a pay-per-view fight,” said BBC Sport boxing correspondent Mike Costello.
His 5 Live Boxing sidekick Steve Bunce added: “Two unbeaten men, elite versus elite. Let’s not lose the fact we are seeing something we don’t often see. This is a monster.” Fury would have taken the WBC world heavyweight title with a points win had he not been pummelled to the canvas in the absorbing 12th round of their 2018 draw.
He said he kidded Wilder’s team into fighting him by implying he was finished, having struggled with personal problems and weight gain and taken a 30-month break from the sport after beating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 to take the IBF, WBA and WBO world titles.
He lost those titles outside the ring – vacating them in October 2016 as he dealt with the issues he was facing. A victory today would complete a remarkable return to the top of world boxing. “Not only did he have three years out but did you see the size of him?” former world champion Carl Froch told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“He is a real inspiration for someone sat in their armchair supping on their beer thinking their life isn’t going anywhere.”
Wilder, according to Costello, is moving into “rare company” in heavyweight history.
The American is seeking to defend his title for an 11th time; if he did, it would surpass Muhammad Ali’s best run as a champion. He can also perhaps win over those who still question his ability despite a 43-fight unbeaten record.
Fans and pundits point to his technical flaws and expect Fury to outwit him. To do so, the Briton would have to avoid Wilder’s power punches. Jay Deas, the American’s trainer, says taking shots on the pads from his fighter feels like receiving a “sprained ankle in your elbow”.
Former world heavyweight champion David Haye told BBC Radio 5 Live: “On two occasions I brought him over to spar – and of all the partners – he was the one with the most devastating punch power.
“I have never experienced getting hit like anything close to that. He has a formula that works. Why would anyone tamper with that formula? This fight will be electric.”
“This is the moment in time we have both been waiting for,” Wilder said this week.
A relentless rivalry is set for its latest twist. At least the waiting is nearly over.