Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, heavyweights Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury will meet in a rematch televised on an ESPN/Fox joint pay per view. In their first meeting, Fury, recently returned from a two-year layoff, boxed effectively for long stretches before getting caught and dropped in the 12th round. Fury did the seemingly impossible by rising from the murderous combination at the count of nine. The bout was a split draw, and the rematch is one of the most anticipated heavyweight bouts in recent years. The Queensberry Rules crew came together to discuss the relevant factors and…
- In the 14 months since they first met, Deontay Wilder has taken on two top 10 opponents, while Tyson Fury has taken on the third and fourth toughest line cooks at Berlin’s finest Streudel Haus. Is recent quality of competition going to factor into their preparation for this rematch?
Hedtke: The short answer is no, and for a couple of key reasons. In the two fights prior to their first meeting in December of 2018, Fury had fought tune-ups against Francesco Pianeta and something called Sefer Seferi, while Wilder took on highly regarded Luis Ortiz and everyone’s favorite tub-of-shit-whose-hair-looks-like-a-Davey-Crockett-hat, Bermane Stiverne. In the year and change since that initial bout, Wilder has taken on Dominic Breazeale and rematched with a now 40-year-old (in dog years) Luis Ortiz, while Fury has once again fought two guys Google hasn’t even heard of. Not even close to comparable levels of competition before the first fight, yet I would say, barring his brief Undertaker impression in round 12, that fight turned out OK for Fury. I believe this one will too.
Plus, those two line cooks Swain mentioned above would stand as good a chance as anyone at outpointing Wilder if they could stay on their feet, and that’s always going to be the name of the game with him.
Starks: Maybe it can’t hurt much, per Brent’s solid anecdotal evidence, but it can’t help Fury, right? You’re going to be sharper if you’ve been up against top-ish competition, even if they’re ancient Cuban folklore beings (underrated joke I missed back when from Wilder on Ortiz: “I don’t care how old he is. He could be 99 years old but if he’s able to get in that ring I’m going to beat his old ass”).
Langendorf: On the list of important considerations for this fight, “recent competition” ranks as high on my list as “ring walk accouterments.” Off the top of my head, the weight disparity, a trainer change and the constitution of Fury’s right brow (cut in the Otto Wallin fight) take far greater precedence. Then again, I did just type the words “cut in the Otto Wallin fight” with a straight face, so maybe I’m daft as a drunken river rat.
Swain: Insomuch as no one either man fought remotely resembles their opponent Saturday night, it didn’t matter much. That said, Fury didn’t look anything special in either fight of 2019, and those two Streudelmeisters were picked purely to make him look good. Fury is at his best when he’s in full-on obese octopus mode, contorting his enormous, jiggly frame into positions where it’s just about impossible to hit him cleanly, and no one Wilder could fight is going to prepare him for that.
- Before turning Ortiz into runny pancake batter last November, Wider was being soundly outboxed for long stretches. Can he take the risk of giving away the majority of rounds against Fury?
Hedtke: I mean, does he have a choice? It’s kinda not up to him. He’ll lose any round in which he doesn’t land a bomb against Fury. Wilder’s style is basically to go fishing with hand grenades. So far, that splattershot approach to catching his dinner has worked out pretty well, but someday, when he can’t pull the pin in time, or scares all the fish away trying, he’s gonna go hungry.
All Fury has to do is win seven rounds and stay upright. Against Wilder, that first part is a piece of cake. The second part? That’s a different story.
Starks: Precisely, B. Wilder isn’t terribly good at winning rounds. It’s not even clear he can do it if he tries. Fury, now that’s a guy who can win rounds. Wilder is going to swing and miss half a billion times with the defensively gifted Fury. Even a modicum of a connection gets Wilder where he wants to be almost every time. One thing I’d say is, Wilder isn’t just throwing shots willy-nilly to hopefully land. He has figured out how to lure people into his power some. But he can do basically nothing else. So, it’s KO or bust.
Langendorf: The first fight suggests that’d be a bold strategy, Cotton. Forget Fury’s 12th-round Undertaker routine. Wilder needed that last-gasp knockdown just to scrape out a draw back in 2018. Glimpses of growth against Ortiz aside, Wilder lacks the patience and practice to effectively set traps — especially against Fury, a cagey fighter in doofus’ clothing. And because Fury is a “knockout artist” in much the same way those TikTok chicks are “recording artists,” Wilder has little to lose aggressively taking aim at a 6’9”, 270-pound target from the opening bell.
Swain: Wilder didn’t catch Fury particularly cleanly with either shot that dropped him. The left hook in the 12th was big, but the right hand that did the damage was a bit blunted. And the 9th round knockdown was from a shot high and behind the ear. I’m willing to bet that somewhere in his head, Wilder is thinking about the fact that neither of those finished Fury, and that Fury definitely won’t stand in front of him like Ortiz did. Ortiz was trying to win the fight, by KO if possible. Fury will be trying to bank enough rounds to get a decision. So, no, Wilder can’t give away every round, expecting a KO. But like the rest of the crew said, he may not have a choice.
- We know Fury can outbox Wilder. Can he do it for 36 full minutes, and does he have to stink out the joint to do it?
Hedtke: Can Fury stay out of Wilder’s blast radius for 12 rounds? Yes, absolutely. Will he? Your guess is as good as mine.
With the looming threat of Wilder’s right hand, it’s nearly impossible to stink out a joint when he’s in the ring. With that kind of power in the room, there’s always gonna be intrigue. But Fury’s a big, fat psycho who wants every set of eyeballs in the known universe fixed directly on him. He wants attention, and not always the good kind. He’s not averse to doing stupid shit if it gets people talking. Thus, his challenge is simple: Entertain or win. Be a showman or to be victorious. He likely can’t do both.
Starks: I’m not accustomed to agreeing with Brent this much. Again, though, there’s a slight difference of opinion on agency, so “this much” isn’t like agreement THAT much. Fury does, methinks, have to stink out the joint to win. Has to. Maybe Wilder won’t let him, but that doesn’t mean Fury has any choice. And if he messes around like he might, yeah, he gon go.
Langendorf: Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Gumming up the works, in some form or another, will always be Fury’s best chance against the division’s biggest hitters. He did a fine job of that in the first fight by flummoxing Wilder with his boxing acumen — and yet it still wasn’t quite enough. More filth, I say. When the going got tough against Wallin and Steve Cunningham, Fury slathered those fights in stank. And boxing’s #linealheads would undoubtedly prefer to strike from the record Fury’s historic, hideous win over Wladimir Klitschko. Alas, they can’t. Which should be all the incentive the Gypsy King needs to go full garbageman.
Swain: I think a great deal of the success that Fury had in the first fight was just from Wilder having never seen anything like him before. No one has ever had the chance to fight Fury a second time, so who the fuck knows how Wilder will respond this time around. The feints might not work. Wilder might not bite and Fury will really have to dig into his bag of tricks and make the fight as ugly as possible. I know he can do it for long stretches, but to do it without even a momentary lapse is a big ask. We’ll see.
- Wilder is reportedly going to weigh in at around 230, which will be the heaviest of his career. Fury has claimed he’ll also be coming in heavier for this fight, at nearly 270. If these are their actual weights, what effect, if any, do you see it having on their respective performances?
Hedtke: I don’t think it really matters. Wilder’s power is predicated on a glitch in the laws of physics, and Fury’s speed comes from drinking an ancient gypsy tonic whose ingredients can’t be correctly pronounced without ripping out your tongue. That is to say, neither man’s strengths are affected, negatively or positively, by the svelteness of their frames, or lack thereof.
Starks: Both of these weights look like miscalculations to me, if calculation even figures into it for Fury. Fury’s a fella who is known for, shall we say, certain indiscretions outside the ring. Cocaine and hookers and what not may be a joke, but then, we know he has certain appetites. Giving up Diet Coke and gaining weight seems… odd. For Wilder, his speed helps him land those bombs, and he’ll need all the speed he can get against the deceptively swift Fury. It’s not like it’s even possible for Wilder to get more powerful, is it? Perhaps it is, and perhaps Fury’s extra weight improves its power and ability to withstand blows. Let’s forecast it as mostly a wash in both directions, but… (ominously pauses for next question).
Langendorf: Advantage Fury. Wilder isn’t accustomed to carrying around extra weight, which could hamper his stamina and speed. But how can he risk giving away 50 pounds to a fleshy Groot who has shown a willingness — hell, call it a gift — for using all his length and leverage to lean, snuff and club his way into the favor of scoring officials?
Swain: I don’t think it will have any effect on Wilder. Despite being rail-thin, he’s extremely strong, and the power will be there no matter what. He’s been in the 220s most of his career, so if the thinking was that the 212 he weighed for the first fight drained him a bit, I get it. I can also see wanting to have a little extra muscle to handle Fury in the clinches. Fury may be thinking the same thing, or his historic lack of discipline may have resurfaced in his first camp without Ben Davison. Like Brent said, the agility and quickness seem to come from somewhere other than his fitness regimen. My answer again will have to be: We’ll see.
- What’s your pick and where does the winner go from here?
Hedke: I’m going Fury on points. I’ll say 115-112 with a flash Wilder knockdown in the early going. The obvious answer to what’s next is Anthony Joshua in a British soccer stadium for more money than we currently have the technology to print, but check this answer out: Wilder again. These are high-octane personalities who can get even the most anti-boxing puritan to stop flipping channels for a moment.
I’m in a no way a “more eyes on the sport are better” guy — in fact, I’m the exact opposite — but these two are just fun and weird and dumb and I want everyone to enjoy them while they can. If they fought 10 times, you’d likely get 10 different results. A rubber match would kick ass, and if the build-up to this fight is any indication, it would do big business. And isn’t watching rich people get richer what we’re all here for?
Starks: Wilder gets the KO, probably late. I fear, for Fury, that the extra weight means less dodging, and that the extra weight is NOT intentional. Fury has some variant of trickster god immortality but hey, even Loki’s officially dead in the MCU. Luck has to run out some time, especially when that luck is being pressed at advancing age and poundage against an all-time great power puncher who’s in his prime.
I can wait on the rubber match. I need the winner of this match versus Joshua ASAP, unless there’s another fuckin’ draw. I want this shit settled, man. The winner of this one gets to call himself the true champ per the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, but that number one contender is right there.
Langendorf: The popular phrase for Wilder’s right hand is “The Equalizer,” but conflating that apocalyptic force with a dusty, waistcoated English dude skulking around mid-‘80s network television doesn’t do it for me. “The Eraser” seems more fitting. Wilder’s straight right, more than any other player in this production, has the power to nullify all others. Given 12 rounds to deploy it, Wilder has the ultimate trump card.
After he stretches Fury, I’d prefer to see Wilder in with Joshua — which is practically a legally binding affidavit that it won’t happen. Expect Dillian Whyte (meh) or an off-brand contender before we can get back to something worth skipping out on your utility bill to watch.
Swain: I’ve been back and forth about this in my head a bunch of times, and as many awful things as I’ve written about Wilder, it would seem like a massive flip flop to pick him. But, as it turns out, he’s gotten better, so I was only right about him at the time and not in perpetuity. I get the impression that he will handle this like he did the Ortiz rematch, wherein he didn’t bother trying to win rounds, he just stalked patiently and looked to set up a finishing shot. If I have to choose between Fury sliming his way to a decision or Wilder getting a KO, and having read everything we’ve said up to now, I have only have those two options, I’ll go Wilder by KO.
The ONLY acceptable fight for the winner is Joshua. At Wembley. 90,000 Brits sobbing their eyes out after Wilder KOs him would make me laugh really hard, and my entertainment is really the only thing I care about.