One of the biggest rematches in heavyweight history is set to go down on Saturday night as undefeated WBC World Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder and unbeaten lineal titlist Tyson Fury square off again in what promises to be an epic pay-per-view.
When there's genuine bad blood and a real score to settle attached to the biggest single-athlete prize in all of sports, a world heavyweight title fight becomes a transcendent event. Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, meeting for a second time in a grudge-heavy battle of big men, aim on going to war to see who reigns supreme as the heavyweight king of the world.
This Saturday, February 22, live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, “The Bronze Bomber,” WBC World Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs), meets lineal heavyweight champion "The Gypsy King," Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) in a historic, high-stakes joint FOX Sports-ESPN+ pay-per-view blockbuster rematch (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
It's been over 14 months since Wilder and Fury fought to a disputed draw at Staples Center in Los Angeles and the controversy over who really won rages on.
Fury and his supporters contend that the Irishman controlled the pace and flow of the action in the December 1, 2018 showdown, winning rounds on guile and his ability to nullify Wilder's lights-out punching power for long stretches of the bout.
Wilder and his supporters, however, point to the defending champ's round-stealing aggression and two big knockdowns as being enough to nudge the decision in favor of the Tuscaloosa, Alabama native.
Since their compelling first battle, both fighters are 2-0. Wilder has registered victories over Dominick Breazeale and Luis Ortiz while Fury has beaten Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin. But, even while dealing with other opposition, the main storyline for both fighters has centered around settling their bad-blood grudge and resolving the unfinished business from their first encounter.
Deontay Wilder will be making the eleventh defense of his WBC heavyweight world title.
Tyson Fury brings with him lineal heavyweight champion bragging rights as the man who ended the long title reign of former consensus world champ Wladimir Klitschko.
Everyone knows what to expect from the two fighters in this mega-main event.
The 6-foot-7 Deontay Wilder is explosive, unorthodox, unflappable and all about landing big, fight-ending punches. The 2008 Olympic bronze medalist has supreme confidence in his own power and in the fact that he can – and will – hurt anyone he touches.
In his first fight with Fury, he came forward and threw leather against a tricky, evasive foe, never once becoming discouraged at the swings and misses that mounted up early in the contest. Eventually, Wilder did connect and Fury went down, twice. A shot to the temple felled the big Irishman in the ninth round and a hellacious right-left combo in the twelfth looked, for all intents and purposes, like a kill shot – until Fury actually got up. For this fight, he tipped the scales at a career-high 231-pounds, 11 ½ more pounds than his last bout and 19 ½ more than the first Fury fight.
Fury's game is boxing and he fancies himself, despite being a mountain of a man at 6-foot-9 and routinely over 260-pounds, a sticker and a mover in the spirit of a Muhammad Ali. The former three-belt world champ is aided in his boxing efforts by an 85-inch reach and a high ring IQ.
However, Fury scaled 273-pounds for this fight, matching what he says is intent to take the fight to Wilder and knock him out.
Against Wilder the first time, Fury feinted effectively against his heavy-handed foe, frequently throwing the defending champ off balance and messing with his timing. A thudding jab was employed to break up Wilder's ability to generate offense as well as set up the occasional thunderous right hand.
“ This is where we come and settle everything. This is judgment day. ” Undefeated WBC World Heavyweight Champion - Deontay Wilder
Although Fury did most everything right, he did get hit, hurt, and dropped. His miraculous rise from the canvas in the twelfth round, however, was a thing of boxing legend, an image right out of a Rocky movie, as former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson described it.
Both fighters were successful in doing what they do best, but both also fell victim to what the other does best. That's what makes Saturday's rematch so interesting.
"The first fight was an amazing fight. It was a very controversial fight. We left people confused about what happened or who won. This is where we come and settle everything. This is judgment day. This is the moment where everyone will have a clear conscious after February 22, about who actually won the first fight.
"This is unfinished business. I’m picking up where I left off at. I knocked him out the first time, I didn’t get it, but I’m going to knock him out this time again and this time he’s not getting up, that’s for sure. I promise you that."
"I’m not bothered about getting hit and hurt. I’ve been hit and hurt loads of times. I’m going out swinging. Deontay Wilder says he’s coming out swinging. So we’ll see who’s full of s*** and who’s a man of his word. I’m coming out like a raging bull."
Fury has promised to come out more aggressive this time and Wilder has said that he's okay with a decision. Realistically, though, both will probably continue being who they are and doing what feels most comfortable to them.
That means Fury will pick up where he left off in the first fight. He'll feint, jab, and move in an effort to keep Wilder from generating any sort of sustained offensive push and then steal rounds with a handful of well-placed shots.
Wilder will keep being Wilder. Although he's clearly showed some added nuance in recent fights, "The Bronze Bomber" is still 100% "BombZquad" and his success continues to be built around his monstrous right hand (and a left hand that is pretty potent as well).
Wilder has the power to put Fury down and the self-confidence to not be discouraged by Fury's off-putting style. Fury knows that he can shut down Wilder's offense for long stretches and that he has the fortitude to get up from the canvas after taking Wilder's best shot.
Fury also may not have been at his very best in their first bout. He was, after all, just two fights into a comeback following a 31-month layoff spent dealing with mental health and addiction issues.
This time, Fury will be dealing with the insecurity surrounding a huge cut over his right eye, sustained in his September bout with Otto Wallin. If that gash is torn open during Saturday's fight, it would make for a bloody impairment to his ability to perform.
A case could be made that Wilder, on the other hand, will be a better fighter in this second date with "The Gypsy King." He's had a chance to see Fury's game up close and should know what to expect and how to better marshal his time and energy in the rematch. In his last fight, Wilder showed more patience and maturity in dealing with a complex Luis Ortiz, even setting traps for the cagey Cuban that eventually paid off with a KO win.
All in all, Wilder-Fury 2 is so evenly-matched, so hard to call, that fans won't know how it'll all play out until it's actually playing out—and, really, that's the way these epic boxing events should be.
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- Wilder vs Fury 2
- Deontay Wilder