It’s pop-quiz time:
How did Tyson Fury beat Deontay Wilder for the heavyweight title back in February 2020?
a) Fury had loaded gloves.
b) Wilder’s own trainer poisoned him before the fight.
c) Wilder’s 40-pound costume that he wore into the ring exhausted his legs.
d) All of the above
We know what choice Wilder would have circled. In the 19 months since he and Fury last fought, we’ve learned that Wilder’s conspiracy theories are as wild as his right hand. His conspiracies came out like a string of rapid-fire jabs on why Fury smashed him during their second bout which ended in a seventh-round TKO of Wilder.
But, now, theories be gone. The truth will reveal itself on Saturday night when Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) defends his WBC championship against Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in the most buzz-worthy heavyweight trilogy since Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe clashed three times back in the 1990s.
Leading up to this third bout, Wilder and Fury have been whipping up some colossal smack. Wilder promises to “disfigure and decapitate” Fury, while Fury promises to take Wilder out “in annihilating fashion.” So let’s see if either fellow can make good on said lovely promise:
What to expect from Fury?
Nobody believed Fury when he said he would set aside all his fancy moves that he used to earn a draw against Wilder in their first bout and would become a mauling monster in the rematch. But that’s exactly what he did. Fury credits lead trainer SugarHill Steward with infusing his slick style with an aggressive Kronk Gym gear.
So, for this bout, we can expect a similar strategy — attack, attack, attack — to keep Wilder off-balance so he cannot set up his dynamite right hand.
What to expect from Wilder?
“The Bronze Bomber” has replaced trainer Mark Breland with Malik Scott. Wilder accused Breland of betraying him for throwing in the towel during the Fury rematch. He also bizarrely accused Breland of spiking his water with a muscle relaxer before the fight.
Scott, whom Wilder knocked out on his way up the ranks, is not a pedigree trainer. But he was a defense-first heavyweight who became a fringe contender about 10 years ago. So with Scott in Wilder’s corner, we can expect tighter defense from the former champ. And FWIW: Recent Youtube clips showing Wilder in training confirm a more defensive approach, with lots of head movement to set up counters.
What’s at stake for Fury?
Legacy. If Fury dominates Wilder for a second time, “The Gypsy King” can pronounce himself the king — the only king — in the heavyweight division, especially after the other king, Anthony Joshua, dropped his gold to Oleksandr Usyk a couple weeks ago.
A convincing win from Fury will cement an argument that he’s the best heavyweight in a generation and may stir talk that he is an all-time great, among the likes of Ali, Louis and Marciano. But all-time great status cannot be fully realized until Fury has all the gold and beats Usyk, and maybe defeats Joshua, too.
What’s at stake for Wilder?
His future and his fate. If Wilder loses to Fury again, his value plunges. He will fall into the second-tier of heavies, alongside former champ Andy Ruiz, and Wilder would have to re-qualify for a title shot by fighting a non-champion.
However, a win for Wilder — especially a knockout — would vault him to the top of the division and also give a nugget of truth to some of his wackadoodle theories of why he lost last time. A KO win of Fury — who has never been knocked out — would also certify Wilder’s claim that he is the hardest puncher of all-time.
Fury wins by split decision.
Fury’s boxing IQ is genius level while Wilder’s punching power is atomic level. That’s what makes their fights so compelling. But, remember, it’s brains that usually conquers power in the boxing ring (e.g. Ali-Foreman, Holmes-Cooney, Mayweather-Alvarez).
Can Fury KO Wilder this time? Probably not. Wilder will be more cautious, more evasive and smarter. And when Fury realizes he cannot score the KO, he will win the late rounds with what got him to the top — brilliant boxing.
However — and this is a huge however — one Hall of Fame boxing legend is picking Wilder over Fury. That would be Teddy Atlas, who said during his weekly podcast, “THE FIGHT with Teddy Atlas,” that Wilder “is fighting for his existence… for redemption.” And because of that motivation, Atlas said Wilder will get the victory. “I’m gonna shock people… That’s my pick. I’m taking Wilder,” Atlas said.
So, yes, it may be hard to bet against Fury, but it may be even harder to bet against Teddy Atlas.