Wilder v Fury: The Power or The Redemption
By Sina Latif
Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) and Tyson Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) are set to face off in the ring on Saturday 1st December at Staples Center, Los Angeles in the type of fight that boxing is always yearning for.
They are both undefeated, hold a combined record of 67-0 and are two of the most charismatic heavyweights of this era, as they have displayed during the thrilling build-up to their fight with an absorbing and entertaining Face Off with John Rawling, three electrifying press conferences as part of a media tour in the UK and the US, and an intense final press conference in LA on Wednesday ahead of the bout, in which tempers flared.
Following two-and-a-half years away from the sport battling mental health issues, substance abuse and ballooning up in weight to nearly 400lb, Fury came back to have two low-key comeback fights against Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta and is now challenging the hard-hitting Wilder for the WBC belt in only his third comeback fight.
Many are doubting whether Fury can revive the kind of brilliant performance which enabled him to defeat long-time champion Wladimir Klitschko on November 28th 2015 and score one of the biggest upsets in boxing history to gain the IBF, WBA, WBO,IBO, Ring Magazine and Lineal titles, after such a long lay-off and with so few fights to regain his sharpness.
Fury will need a Klitschko-like performance to defeat Wilder, who has a knockout-to-win ratio of 98% and can end a fight at any moment with his fearsome power.
However, many respected figures inside boxing circles do believe that Fury can cause an upset on Saturday, and that in itself is testament to how far Fury has come in just a year. The 30-year-old has slimmed down and looks to be in the best shape of his career ahead of the fight of his life, a year after being nearly 400lb.
A man who shocked the whole world by defeating Klitschko in his own backyard after a long dominance of the heavyweight division by the Klitschko brothers since Lennox Lewis’ retirement in 2003, can never be written off.
The Brit is mightily driven and gifted with the ability to use mind games to his advantage against his opponents. Although it was a few years ago now, his win over Klitschko displayed his brilliant boxing brain and his awkwardness. His win over Dereck Chisora in their rematch was flawless. In top form, Fury is an elite heavyweight.
Nevertheless, Fury is very aware and honest about the danger posed by Wilder.
Speaking on The Road to Redemption documentary, Fury said: “I think Wilder’s a much bigger test than Klitschko. Klitschko was a very skilled fighter and he wouldn’t throw punches unless he thought they were going to land, but Wilder will throw punches even though he knows they’re not going to land, he’ll still throw them, and that’s a dangerous man. He’s a big awkward man who can punch.”
Wilder is a legitimate heavyweight champion and has won 39 of his 40 fights inside the distance, knocking out the only man to go the distance with him, Bermane Stiverne, in the first round in the rematch. He possesses frightening power and has the hunger to knock opponents out that makes him possibly the most exciting American heavyweight champion since the days of Mike Tyson.
The American faced his real challenge for the first time in March and showed great bravery and heart to battle back from being on the verge of being stopped by Luis Ortiz to knock the Cuban out in the 10th round. If Fury was to turn up in top condition and in form as is expected, a victory over the Brit would topple the Ortiz win.
Although Wilder can appear wild and clumsy at times, he has rare one-punch knock-out power and very underrated talent. The American is now in his prime following his career-best win over Ortiz and has real momentum, winning all seven of his title defences since claiming the title in 2015 against Stiverne with seven straight knockouts.
If Fury can pull off a win against Wilder, he has beaten a genuine champion and produced one of the greatest comebacks of all time.
Sky Sports pundit Spencer Fearon was spot on when speaking to Boxing News magazine, saying: “Tyson Fury has already won. He has beaten depression, drink, drugs and obesity. That’s a winner in my eyes regardless of the result of a fight which is going to the scorecards.”
For a man to come out of such a dark place, get himself into such great shape within a year and be on the verge of challenging for the WBC title, he has already won. He has won in the sense of proving that anything can be achieved when one’s mind is focused on a goal, and that is something to be proud of for Fury.
If Wilder beats Fury, he will have gained victories over Ortiz and Fury back-to-back and his credibility as a champion should no longer be in question. The US has a real champion for the first time in two decades and he should be appreciated more, even for his achievements thus far prior to this titanic clash.
The whole of the boxing world will be eagerly watching in the early hours of Sunday morning (UK time) to see who will come out on top in the biggest heavyweight title fight for nearly two decades.
History can be written, and it’s not one to be missed!