This time next week we’ll be a step closer to solving the heavyweight jigsaw puzzle. The dust will have settled on the Staples Center, Los Angeles, with the green and gold of the WBC heavyweight championship of the world firmly around the waist of either Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury.
It’s come around quickly. After unofficially announcing the fight inside the ring after Fury’s most recent win over the underwhelming punchbag Francesco Pianeta, we’ve since experienced a growth in the hype that suitably accompanies a world heavyweight championship fight.
I wasn’t convinced at first. I wouldn’t say my thoughts were on the same wavelength as Eddie Hearn’s - claiming the fight wouldn’t happen, with the sole purpose of the announcement to raise both fighter’s profiles in their pursuit of Joshua - but I simply had concerns over the fitness and health of Tyson Fury.
The “Gypsy King” spent close to three years outside the ring battling everything from depression to drug addiction; his rapid weight loss has been nothing short of remarkable, however, the tole it’s taken on his body after this gruelling training camp is yet to be seen. I wouldn’t have been shocked to hear that Tyson had picked up an injury in this camp. He’s probably struggled at times, but as we stand a week out from the fight, in the words of Frank Warren: “IT’S ON!”.
Fury is an underdog with the bookmakers. Currently priced at around 11/8 (2.38), Fury has been given close to a 42% chance of winning this fight. It’s a fair assessment on the face of this fight, however, as the night draws near expect the odds to come closer to a true 50/50; the late money will be with the challenger. Wilder is the more active fighter. Wilder has the home advantage (in a sense). Wilder is the reigning champion. The boxing world, still, remains split.
How can Fury upset the odds once again?
- Feints and frustration
Fury received as much criticism for his win over Wladimir Klitschko as he did credit. Accused of “running” for most of the fight, even Tyson admits it was a snooze-fest, however, the work was done as much in his head and hand movements as it was done with his feet.
Constantly feinting, constantly rolling his shoulder, constantly moving his head, switching to southpaw; Fury disabled Klitschko’s feared jab for a majority of the fight. Unable to land his left hand, following up the straight right, Klitschko was resigned to hesitation in the fight with a fear of getting countered by the 6ft 9” frame of the challenger proving overwhelming.
Wilder is more unorthodox in his approach to the sweet science. There are no straight lines; there is nothing out of a textbook. This will give Fury a different proposition to negate in his immaculate defence. If Wilder telegraphs any of his attacks you can expect Fury to have an answer as he did in Dusseldorf.
Wilder has made a career out of pinning down the heavier heavyweights, pummeling them into submission or unconsciousness as their lumbered frames fail to slip, slide, or move out of range. He has walked through the 39 opponents he has faced, with two bites of the cherry needed against the faded Bermane Stiverne, notching up his 40 wins.
Fury won’t stand in front of Wilder. Fury won’t be lured into a war. His ring intelligence is far superior to any of Wilder’s victims, with the WBC champ likely to struggle to keep Fury in range.
Desperation towards the latter stages of the fight may lead Wilder into making bigger mistakes than usual. Fury’s power is underrated and may be used to best effect in the championship rounds as he looks for a potential stoppage in countering the champion.
- The long game
Wilder has only had to win once on the scorecards. It was wide when he got the UD against Stiverne in 2015, however, his fight management may be off slightly as he becomes reliant on his knockout victories.
If the KO isn’t coming in Saturday night’s fight, Wilder may struggle to adapt in attempting to pinch the rounds in the second half of the fight. Wilder doesn’t operate in this way; a seek and destroy fighter tends to have one gear, with Fury looking to toy with the champion once he begins to swing recklessly.
- Mind games
Don’t ever second guess the mind of Tyson Fury. Wilder still has fight week to negate as he looks to avoid the shenanigans and antics of the “Gypsy King”; maybe one last attempt to get into the mind of Wilder will rattle the champion.
In the run-up to Fury’s infamous win in Germany, we were apparently minutes away from the fight being called off just two hours before the first bell. Disputes over the thickness of the ring canvas as well as observations of hand wrapping kicked off between Fury and Klitschko’s team, with the Furys unwilling to bow down to the Klitschko regime.
This won’t be a problem on Saturday. There is no strong “A-side” in this fight, with the Furys unlikely to cause reason for complaint. This won’t stop their team doing anything they can to get a psychological edge in the lead up to the opening bell.
Fury has already won. He’s fit, healthy and of sound mind. Whatever happens in the rest of his boxing career will be considered a bonus by the self-proclaimed lineal heavyweight champion. This relaxed view, however, makes him a very dangerous man in the most dangerous of divisions.