Deontay Wilder doesn’t see the joke in Tyson Fury

Former cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham and former heavyweight contender Malik Scott break down Saturday's blockbuster heavyweight title fight—and both say Fury is no laughing matter.

Tyson Fury can be rather comical. It’s unavoidable given the way he moves: A towering figure walking tippy-toed on spindly legs that support the excess flab jiggling over his waistline.

Fury is also a jokester behind the mic. He doesn’t mind the perception this creates. Laugh at his comments—or his disproportionate 6-foot, 9-inch, 260-pound frame. Just don’t expect Deontay Wilder to make that same mistake.

Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) defends his WBC world heavyweight title an eighth time when he meets Fury this Saturday, December 1 in the main event of a Showtime pay-per-view card (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) live from Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

Wilder-Fury is one of the best heavyweight matchups in years. Fury, (27-0, 19 KOs) may elicit laughs outside the ring, but he’s no joke inside it, as those who’ve laced up the gloves against him can attest.

“That’s part of the deception when it comes to Fury,” said former two-time world cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham. “You see this big, tall, goofy guy, who gets out of shape, makes jokes, and will make an ass of himself because he’s selling himself.”

Cunningham fought Fury in 2013, dropping him with an overhand right in the second round before succumbing to him in the seventh. The two also sparred later that year as Fury prepped for a David Haye bout that ultimately fell through.

“Being in camp with Tyson, I saw the work that he puts into his fights,” Cunningham said. “I saw what Peter Fury (Tyson’s uncle and former trainer) had him doing. The guy is in shape and he has a gas tank. You’re not going to outwork him.”

Cunningham weighed 210 pounds and was outweighed by 44 pounds when he fought Fury. Wilder is a lean 6-foot, 7-inches who typically weighs between 215-220 pounds. The weight disparity could be a major advantage for Fury.

“Fury applied his weight on me,” Cunningham said. “He leaned on me until it tired me. Fury is going to want to clinch with Wilder and lean on him. Fury’s size will play a part in this. He can box and he’s a far better fighter than people give him credit for.”

Even if Fury was in the shape he was in when he fought Wladimir. Back then, there was a chance he may have been a threat to Deontay. Not now. Former Heavyweight Contender Malik Scott

But Cunningham points out that this isn’t just the classic battle between boxer and puncher.

“A lot of people say Deontay can’t box, that he’s sloppy. Don’t get it twisted, he can box. He hasn’t had to box, because once that right hand lands, you’re out. Deontay has that great eraser. Fury will make Deontay exhibit his boxing skills. We’ll see Fury try to work more behind the jab.”

Fury is leaving nothing to chance for this fight. Legendary trainer Freddie Roach will be in his corner, alongside lead trainer Ben Davison. Davison and Fury joined forces when the latter returned to the ring last June after a 2.5 year-hiatus. Thus far, they’re 2-0 together.

Nevertheless, Cunningham believes the absence of old trainer Peter Fury could be a problem for Tyson. Peter was the calming influence during the chaos of a fight—and the chaos churning in Tyson’s own head.

“Peter was the one who always kept Tyson in line,” Cunningham says. “When I sparred him, Peter kept telling me to use the overhand right. Peter Fury knows Tyson. It’s like when I train my son, I know him and he trusts me. I saw it in camp. Peter was always the authority and Tyson needs toning down. I see Wilder stopping Fury in the seventh or eighth round, but that will come after Tyson Fury wins most of the rounds.”

Another boxer with an interesting take on this fight is former heavyweight contender Malik Scott. Scott was stopped by Wilder in 2014. He’s since sparred with both Wilder and Fury.

“What is special about Tyson Fury is that he’s crazy enough to think he can win,” Scott said. “He beat Wladimir Klitschko, an 11-year champion, in 2015, and he did it with a smile on his face the whole night. But Tyson wasn’t going to beat Deontay anyway, even if he was in the shape he was in when he fought Wladimir. Back then, there was a chance he may have been a threat to Deontay. Not now.”

Those prophesying a Wilder victory often do so citing his otherworldly physical traits. But in boxing, will counts as much as skill. Scott, one of Wilder’s chief sparring partners for this bout, says Wilder possesses both.

“Deontay is the most athletic fighter I’ve ever shared the ring with,” he said. “He punches extremely hard, with 20-ounce or 10-ounce gloves on. He is the fastest heavyweight in the world, too, right now, and he’s very unorthodox. Deontay is not underestimating Fury—I can tell you that.”

As well he shouldn’t. No matter how it looks on the outside, Tyson Fury is no laughing matter.

For a closer look at Wilder vs Fury, check out our fight page.

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