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One of the most eagerly anticipated fights in the heavyweight division looks increasingly likely to move from the world of hype into the world of reality. Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will probably meet some time in early 2019 and like they say, “Somebody’s 0 has gotta go!”
Wilder, known as The Bronze Bomber, is the undefeated former Olympian with dynamite in either hand. Only one man has managed to take him the distance – the colourfully named Bermane Stiverne. Wilder managed to go some way towards negating this blot on his copybook, when he knocked Stiverne out in the first round of their rematch. (By the way, who, in their right mind would want a rematch with this fella?)
If ever a man was suitably named, it is Wilder, because it is hard to imagine anybody with a less orthodox approach. Contemptuous of defence, he can afford to take risks, knowing that he has the power to finish any fight, any time he can land cleanly. In his haste to finish off the hapless Audley Harrison, Wilder’s own momentum sent him to the floor, but it mattered little. Deontay’s dynamite had already exploded off Harrison’s fragile jaw, ending the fight in the first round.
Out of the ring, Wilder is just as unpredictable. Some of his comments have been beyond the pale, especially the one about not being satisfied until he has at least one body on his record! Does he mean all this stuff? Who knows? You could argue that it puts bums on seats. As with Muhammad Ali, a good proportion of the crowd will want to see him lose.
To date, in the professional ring, Wilder has not yet been tested, so nobody knows if his chin is made of china or granite. Is Tyson Fury the man to put The Bronze Bomber to the test?
Fury calls himself the lineal heavyweight champion of the world. It is true that he never lost the title he took from Wladimir Klitschko in Germany three years ago, but what nobody knows is how his two and a half year sabbatical has affected his long term outlook.
During his time out of the ring, Fury subjected his body to all sorts of excesses. Over indulgence in food and drink led his weight to surge up to twenty-seven stone. It was clear to anybody with eyes to see, that the man who styles himself the Gypsy King was suffering from mental health problems. He claims to be well again now, in both mind and body.
His long awaited comeback was something of a subdued affair as Albanian cruiserweight, Sefer Seferi was stopped in a four round farce. This alleged fight looked as if its ending had been contractually agreed upon. I, the undersigned agree to make a nuisance of myself for four rounds then quit as soon as the bell to end the fourth round rings!
Boxing is business and sometimes an opponent just needs to turn up, without any of those nasty, confusing ambitions of winning.
Fight number two of Fury’s journey back to the top was a little more demanding. Francesco Pianeta, a man who has a tendency to lose when he steps up in class, was widely outpointed in Belfast.
These two gentle strolls in the park were enough to convince many people that Fury had regained the form that saw him dominate Wladimir Klitschko – a man who had himself dominated the heavyweight division for a decade. All of which brings us neatly to Deontay Wilder.
On the night how will things work out? Our two protagonists share a number of things in common: unbeaten records, unusual height (6ft 9 inches for Fury and 6ft 7 inches for Wilder), a reputation for unorthodox behaviour outside the ring and one more thing: scrawny legs that look like they have been borrowed form somebody else.
Fury though, is not the puncher in this match up. Despite a name dripping with nominative determinism, Tyson is not a one-shot KO artist. That description belongs to Wilder.
On the night, I see Fury bamboozling Wilder for fully six rounds. For a big man, his speed and agility are truly wondrous. In the first half of the fight, the man from Alabama might well look like an amateur. But those binges might have left lasting scar tissue. In the second half of the fight, as Fury begins to tire, Wilder will start the hunt. And once he finds the range, a man who was knocked down by cruiserweight, Steve Cunningham will have his chin tested as never before. I see Fury hitting the canvas a couple of times before being rescued – either by his corner or by the referee – sometime around the tenth round.
By Pete Wolstencroft