‘THE Gypsy King’ Tyson Fury can cement his legacy as this era’s greatest heavyweight champion with another knockout of Deontay Wilder in their trilogy fight here in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Just two weeks after Anthony Joshua’s crushing defeat to Oleksandr Usyk left the prospect of an All-GB heavyweight super-fight in tatters, the WBC champion can ill-afford a similar bad night at the office at the T-Mobile Arena.
With 41 knockouts in 42 career victories, Wilder remains a candidate for the biggest puncher boxing has ever seen. But he is also damaged goods after the manner of Fury’s performance in their second fight, when he turned the tables to bully the division’s biggest bully.
After outboxing Wilder for 10 of the 12 rounds they shared in their first matchup in December 2018, Fury pulled the trigger on his own heavy leather in the rematch in February last year to leave a battered and bloodied Wilder standing forlorn in his corner when his team threw in the towel after seven rounds.
Wrapped up in a cloud of ridiculous conspiracy theories since, Wilder has had 20 months to reinvent himself under the tutelage of former opponent turned head trainer Malik Scott.
“Malik has brought the best out of me,” Wilder, 35, said. “Everyone knows I have power and my power will never diminish from the first through the 12th. But I want to show a little bit more. Like I said, I’m gonna beat him up and I’m gonna knock him out.”
However, Wilder’s reluctance to accept he was beaten by a better man in the second fight suggests he’s mentally weak, something Fury has picked up on.
Tyson Fury questions why Deontay Wilder sacked Mark Breland, but not Jay Deas, who watched his hands get wrapped for their rematch…
— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) October 6, 2021
“To make all these pathetic excuses on why he lost the fight, when all he had to do was hold his hand out and say, ‘Fair play. You beat me on the night’, it’s weak,” says the 33-year-old. “I’ve been living in his head rent free for 20 months, but on Saturday I’m going to knock him clean out and he won’t have to think about me or boxing ever again.”
Fury and Wilder have shared a ring for 19 rounds already, spread across two fights. Wilder won two maybe three of those rounds, so he certainly can’t outbox the Gypsy King. However, he can out-punch Fury, if he is able to land cleanly and consistently.
Just like my prediction for AJ two weeks ago, Wilder has to come out on the front foot and fight as the bigger man – even though he isn’t. He has to gamble on his own chin standing up to one or two Fury shots in order to land his own power shots.
That approach takes real character, to risk getting hit in order to impose your own gameplan – especially on a stage as big as this. Joshua wasn’t able to do it against Usyk, but similarly it’s the only chance Wilder has to regain his title.
By coming out swinging, Wilder has the puncher’s chance. But Fury is again ready to fight fire with fire and whilst I can see him getting clipped and maybe even picking himself up off the canvas in the opening rounds, Wilder will get ragged soon enough and clinical Fury will punch holes in him once again.