The eyes of the boxing world will be on the Staples Center in LA this weekend as Deontay Wilder defends his WBC world heavyweight title against Tyson Fury.
The Bronze Bomber versus the Gypsy King has captured the imagination of boxing fans on both sides of the Atlantic in what is arguably the biggest fight in the heavyweight division since Anthony Joshua’s thrilling victory over Wladimir Klitschko almost two years ago.
Wednesday’s press conference in Los Angeles; the last before the two giants clash on Saturday, marked three years to the day since Fury’s own victory over Klitschko. That famous win in Germany back in 2015 should have been just the beginning for British boxer, Fury, but a series of drug and mental health related problems left his career in tatters.
The self-proclaimed Gypsy King was absent from the ring for more than two years, during which time he battled with drug and alcohol problems, served a six-month ban from boxing and ballooned up to over 28 stone. But now the Lineal heavyweight champion has the opportunity to create one of the greatest comeback stories in boxing history.
Standing in his way is the hard-hitting American, Deontay Wilder. Despite boasting a record of 40 fights and 40 wins (39 KO), Wilder has never received the same recognition as Tyson Fury or even Anthony Joshua. Many suggest the calibre of opponent put before Wilder is not up to world level standard. Although his previous opponent, Luis Ortiz, was one of the most feared fighters in the division there’s no doubting this fight is equally as important to both boxers.
What the bookies say
Both Wilder and Fury believe they have what it takes to win the hotly-anticipated bout and bookmakers are struggling to separate them. When the fight was first made, Wilder was made a huge favourite with most bookies, Fury, the outsider was commonly available at 6/1. But, as the fight draws closer and the pounds continue to fall from Fury’s waistline, the money is starting to come in for the Englishman.
What Fury has to say
Incredibly confident and self-celebratory, Fury has been very vocal about his ability to reign supreme in the ring this Saturday.
Speaking to BBC Sport about his boxing comeback , Fury said:
Xing stylles and "I don't remember a bigger comeback ever, someone coming from further away.
"I don't believe someone has gone up to 28 stone, lost all that weight, come back. I don't remember people suffering with all the problems I suffered with. So it ranks up there with the best comebacks of all time.
"The most important thing for me to do on Saturday is have fun. It's a great part of my life and I'll look back on it in time and think: do you know what, they were the best days of my life."
Wilder by KO, Fury on points?
It's widely accepted that Deontay Wilder possesses the greater punching power but Tyson Fury offers so much more guile and skill in the ring. Fury’s unorthodox style is what caused Wladimir Klitschko so many problems on that famous November night. Therefore, the most popular bets have been on Wilder to win by KO or for Fury to take it the whole 12 rounds and earn a points victory. However, Fury has confidently promised to claim his own knockout victory on Saturday.
In the pair’s final press conference, Fury exclaimed, “I've heard a lot of people say Wilder by KO or Fury by points. I am telling you now, Wilder is getting knocked out.”
But, being such a high-profile fight, many big boxing names have weighed in with their opinions. Lennox Lewis, a three-time world heavyweight champion believes it is in fact the Bronze Bomber who could be on the giving end of the KO punch.
“If it goes the distance then it belongs to Tyson Fury,” Lewis said. “If it’s a short fight it will belong to Deontay Wilder” he said.
Evander Holyfield predicts a similar outcome:
“I think with Deontay’s power, he might be able to end it early, but if Tyson can frustrate him and it goes the distance, then it could go his way."
While the boxers’ fighting styles and past performances have been heavily analysed, can we overlook Tyson Fury’s famous mental strength? According to boxing legend, Mike Tyson, absolutely not.
"Although Wilder's punch is strong, nothing can compare to the mental strength Fury has shown both in and out of the ring," Tyson said.
"It'll be a close call, but I think Fury's got a true fighting chance."
Fight odds (courtesy of Betfred)
Deontay Wilder – 4/6
Tyson Fury – 5/4
Draw – 25/1
Method of Victory
Deontay Wilder by KO, TKO or Disqualification – 11/10
Deontay Wilder by Decision or Technical Decision – 11/2
Tyson Fury by KO, TKO or Disqualification – 5/1
Tyson Fury by Decision or Technical Decision – 21/10
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