Two of the biggest characters and most revered fighters in the heavyweight division will meet up at the Staples Center, Los Angeles on December 1. Deontay Wilder, the WBC heavyweight king will defend his title against former WBA, WBO, IBF, IBO, and The Ring champ, Tyson Fury. The Brit is the lineal heavyweight champion of the world. Both men are undefeated, meaning somebody’s “0” has to go.
While both fighters have been linked with a lucrative fight against the division’s golden boy, Anthony Joshua, the Watford-native has so far eluded the two. It is widely believed that a win in this fight will make it difficult for Joshua to avoid either Wilder or Fury. As such, there is no doubt that there is a lot on the table heading into the matchup.
Following a lengthy build-up, which included both men facing off on the undercard of Carl Frampton bout in Belfast, Ireland, the fight was announced on September 27. There is a real buzz for the fight, given that both men look fairly matched up. Their styles are completely different, also making this a true test of raw power vs. boxing ability.
Wilder vs. Fury: How Both Men Shape Up
If the buzz for the fight has brought you here, you will be keen to get as much information on both fighters as you can. As a betting fan, it is important to size up how both men are looking, heading into the fight. Understanding the background of both fighters – and how they shape up – can help us determine who holds the upper hand heading into the heavyweight fight of the year.
Let’s a take a look at Wilder’s credentials:
Wilder is 6 ft 7 inches (201 cm), with a reach of 83 in (211 cm). The WBC heavyweight champion since Jan. 2015, Wilder’s victory over Canada’s Bermane Stiverne saw him become the first heavyweight champion from the U.S. in nine years. He has held on to the title with a series of dominating performances since then, with none of his seven defenses reaching the judges’ scorecards.
As previously mentioned, Wilder is a fighter that tends to attract a lot of flak in the boxing community. The biggest criticisms of the Alabama-native are his awkward and wild, swinging style of fighting and his propensity to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Many of his opponents have been regarded as sub-par and his possession of heavyweight boxing’s most prized asset has been frequently questioned.
Regardless, Wilder will enter the bout against Fury with confidence. One of the top challengers in the division, Luis Ortiz, fell to a 10th round KO at the hands of Wilder in March. The “Bronze Bomber” will likely feel as though he can take advantage of Fury’s long absence from the ring, despite his two tune-up wins this year.
First things first, for Tyson Fury to find himself in this position at all following his admitted mental health and physical problems is nothing short of astounding. We will cover this in a little more detail in the next section, so be sure to keep reading.
These skills yielded a surprising victory over Wladimir Klitschko, earning the unified WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, IBO, Ring magazine and lineal heavyweight titles as a result. Fury was able to do to the Ukrainian legend what no one else had ever done, outbox him, and this likely had a lot to do with his awkward style and seasoned jab. Fury earned huge praise following the win and looked destined for a long career before his personal troubles.
Fury missed out on representing Great Britain in the Olympic games, having initially opted to fight for Ireland. As an amateur, he represented both Ireland and England, winning the English super-heavyweight strap in 2008. Before this, he captured a number of Irish, British, and English titles. Like Wilder, Fury turned pro in 2008 and is undefeated, so far, in his pro career.
Fury’s Miraculous Return
As many boxing fans will surely agree, it is great to see Tyson Fury back in the ring. With so many parallels between boxing and life, it is nothing short of remarkable to observe someone who is, in a metaphorical sense, flat on their back inside the ropes of life get back up again. This is exactly what Fury did, following the darkest period of his life following his win over Klitschko.
A battle with drugs, alcohol, and excess weight gain saw Fury embark on a long period outside of the sport. At one point, according to the fighter himself, he weighed over 400 pounds. British media frequently ran stories of Fury’s decadent lifestyle, often accompanied by images of the former champion looking extremely unfit and out of shape. There were few who believed he would ever box again.
At some point, Tyson Fury decided that he had suffered enough due to the choices he had made and actively began to lose weight. A remarkable and jaw-dropping transformation saw him lose over 150 pounds. He made his comeback bout against Sefer Seferi in Manchester, England in June 2018, making light work of the Albanian. In August, he beat Italy’s Francesco Pianeta on points to secure a fight with Wilder.
Could Fury’s Inactivity Work Against him in This Fight?
When we look at fighters who have enjoyed longevity in the sport of boxing, they usually have one thing in common: incredible discipline. Bernard Hopkins, the legendary Philadelphian, holds the record as the oldest champion of all-time at 48-years-old. Hopkins was incredibly careful about how he trained, what he ate, and quit drinking alcohol at a young age.
Fury, admittedly, was drinking and taking a lot of cocaine in his time away from the ring. His weight would suggest that he had an unhealthy diet, too, and all of these things, combined, make it a very arguable point that he is not the fighter he was in 2015. Two warm-up fights, against weak opposition, aren’t exactly enough to suggest that he will be in the best shape of his life.
However, Fury has demonstrated an exceptional work rate in getting back to the highest stage in boxing. He has proven his mental strength, in the process, but what is concerning is how he will react when the pressure is on. Can Tyson Fury turn a miraculous transformation into a victory over the unbeaten WBC’s heavyweight king? That is up for debate, right now. It would be foolish to ignore that his body might not be up to scratch, however.
Comparing Both Men
Naturally, this fight is the biggest that the heavyweight division has seen in some time. Both men are genuine champions, both are unbeaten, and their strengths are considered to be pretty even. In an age where big fights are few and far between, it is refreshing to have this bout to look forward to. Wilder and Fury are fighters who always try to put a show on for their fans, so it makes sense that it should be a riveting contest.
A simple glance over both fighters’ records will show that neither man has the most impressive resume. Yes, both have achieved a lot inside the ropes, but the days of a heavyweight boxer working their way through quality opponent after quality opponent are long gone. The heavyweight division is still very weak compared to other weight classes such as lightweight, welterweight, or even middleweight.
Wilder’s Greatest Performances
Regardless of what the critics have to say about Wilder’s history of fighting opponents of poor quality, he is taking a step up against Fury. His overall record of 40-0 (39KO) is impressive at first glance, but the majority of the names on that record are unknown and low-ranked opponents. That is the vast majority, too.
Against Ortiz, Wilder was tested more than he had been at any point in his career. Regardless, he found his rhythm, dropping Ortiz three times before blasting him away in the 10th. The Cuban is considered a tough and durable fighter and was unbeaten before squaring off with the “Bronze Bomber.”
Fury’s Greatest Performances
If you ask anyone who knows who Tyson Fury is to name his best performance, it is unthinkable that you would be met with any other answer than “Wladimir Klitschko.” Fury traveled to Germany with hardly anyone outside of his hardcore fanbase predicting a win. Not only did Fury upset the apple cart, but he did it in style, completely outclassing the Ukrainian legend who had presided over the division for years.
Prior to Fury’s epic win over Klitschko, his best performance was against England’s Derek Chisora in November 2014, almost exactly one year before that bout. Fury showcased slick boxing skills, changing stance and unloading with ease against “Del Boy” before the latter retired in the 10th round.
Power Puncher vs. Boxer
Fury, as we covered above, is the slightly larger man. He will be around 250 pounds to Wilder’s 225 pounds, but it will remain to be seen if this makes a difference. However, Fury’s height and reach advantages will surely be of more benefit to the “Gypsy King,” especially when we consider his stick and move style. Wilder will need to get inside Fury in order to land and this could prove difficult against that seasoned jab.
The clash of styles here does this make an interesting one. On one hand, Wilder has the power to end the contest early, while Fury can drag him into deep waters – somewhere the American has only ever been once – and simply outbox him to a points decision. Styles make fights in boxing, and this is one of the reasons for so many fans getting excited about the contest.
As a betting fan, I would be inclined to believe that the fight is more than likely going end in one of two scenarios: a knockout for Wilder or a unanimous decision for Fury. The “Bronze Bomber” does not have the boxing skills necessary to outpoint Fury, while the “Gypsy King” is unlikely to have the power to hand Wilder the first knockout defeat of his career. Yes, stranger things have happened, but this fight will probably end in one of these ways.
The Big Prediction
Coming into this fight, we have a consistent Deontay Wilder and a Tyson Fury who has battled through personal demons, addiction, mental health troubles, and poor diet. Yes, we have seen a miraculous turnaround in fortunes for Fury, but there is a looming question of whether the British-born fighter is really up to the test of dealing with the American.
Wilder, on the other hand, will be just as confident. He has consistently fought at least two bouts in every year since he turned professional and has never looked out of shape or unfit. If there is an obvious advantage to be had against Fury, it will be the latter’s period of inactivity. Throughout the years, we have seen fighters like Ricky Hatton – who will be in Fury’s corner – pay for putting their bodies through the mill between fights.
Another distinctive advantage that Wilder will have over Fury is that the fight is happening in the U.S. If there is a psychological battle to be had in boxing, then fighting in front of a home crowd is an excellent weapon. This is not to say that Fury’s fans will not be there in abundance, however. We all know how home judges can sometimes favor an American fighter, but Wilder is unlikely to reap any benefit from the judges considering his best chance of winning the contest is by stoppage.
How the Fight Will be Won
The question of Fury’s battles outside of the ropes continues to be raised. Will his mental state be strong enough to deal with the pressure of such a massive fight? Will his body show signs of wear and tear from his alcohol and drug abuse in that period? With regards to the former, I believe his ability to come back from the brink of destruction will give him a mental toughness that he has never had before. With reference to the latter, it is difficult to tell, but the fact that he is a heavyweight might be telling.
Wilder will have his moments, but I believe he will be frustrated into overextending on shots and being inefficient with his energy. It just takes one shot to change the course of a fight, and if Wilder goes looking for that one big shot early, this will actually play into the hands of Fury. The American will need to pace himself and find a way to walk Fury into one of his big punches. That is much easier said than done.
Fury is the bigger man, and will likely use this size advantage to close the distance if necessary. However, the 30-year-old will unquestionably prefer to fight on the outside. Wilder needs to find range to land and doing so against a fighter as defensively proficient and efficient is a big ask. If he wants to hold on to his strap, he must find a way to work inside Fury’s jab.
To the fans of Deontay Wilder, please accept my sincerest apologies, but I believe Fury is simply too smart and too awkward for the “Bronze Bomber.” Wilder has a great chance of proving himself against the lineal champ, but his wild punches and unrefined technique is something that Fury will relish. Expect a piston of a jab, some excellent head movement, and an evasive style from the “Gypsy King” on the night.
Prediction: In my humble opinion, Fury will pick apart Wilder from the outside on his way to a unanimous decision.