Plus: The lessons to take from the first two bouts with Wilder
There is little doubt in the mind of Tyson Fury that Saturday’s trilogy fight with Deontay Wilder will be a resumption of rivalry which last saw the Briton claim the World Council Belt here in Las Vegas twenty months ago: namely, by aggressive assault on the knockout merchant from Alabama.
“We’re going to pick up where we left off really – me setting about him,” Fury told Telegraph Sport on Friday night in an exclusive interview. “I’m in fierce mode. My beard in camp has represented a bear and I’m going to go out there and act like a bear, as grizzly as I can be, aggressive and attacking. They can disfigure you and dismantle you. That’s exactly what I’m going to do to Deontay Wilder.”
True or not, or whether it is a plan to get into Wilder’s head and force him to over-commit, Fury is honest enough to admit that his rival is a dangerous foe. “Wilder can close that distance quick. He used to be able to anyway,” added Fury. “I don’t know what he’s like now after his loss. But he can close the distance quick and can get a man out of there with either hand,” explained the undefeated champion, now 33.
Fury will boast a near 40lb weight advantage over Wilder, after both competitors came in at the heaviest weights of their professional careers, with Fury tipping the scales at 19st 11lb and Wilder coming in at 17st.
“So you’ve got to be very careful with Deontay Wilder. He still poses the most imminent threat to me of all the heavyweights in the division, for sure. I’d say he’s the only one with single punch knockout power.”
The difference, now, explained Fury, is that he stays on course between fights. Indeed, mentally this week, he is as relaxed as I have ever witnessed him. “It would have been a massively different situation a few years ago. I’d have probably ballooned up to 25 stone and I wouldn’t be here in shape ready to go after two years out of the ring,” Fury told Telegraph Sport. “Two years out of the ring is a long time. After the second Wilder fight I was actually suffering from very bad depression for about 10 days. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. But I’m ready, I really am.”
Wilder himself realises that if he can prove his ability to get into range and use his power, his stock will rise in the United States. Wilder made ten defences of the WBC crown before hitting the Fury brick wall last time out.
“This is what the defining moment is all about. I know I will get recognition at the end of my career, or sadly when I die, but I do want it right now,” he explained. “The thing has been that people always appreciate great fighters or at the end when they die and that needs to change. You should appreciate them now. In this sport there is no such thing as being cocky or overconfident because it takes a lot to get in that ring. All we look for is appreciation. And I want my devastating KO to be recognised.”
Malik Scott, with whom Wilder has taken up as his trainer this year after jettisoning his team of Jay Deas and Mark Ireland, after defeat in February 2020, explained to me that they have worked on their adjustments and will refuse to be put on the back foot. That will mean meeting Fury on the front foot from the opening bell.
“We will be putting so much pressure on Tyson Fury this time he will be exhausted by the fifth round and we will get him out of there with a decisive finish,” said Malik.
If so, there will be thrills and spills from the off. Fury and Wilder have had two vastly different fights thus far, and it will all come down to the adjustments as they go into round 20 of their rivalry. We know Fury is the superior boxer; we know Wilder has one-punch knockout power. Wilder will, as Scott has disclosed, start fast and is going to be at his most dangerous for the first three to five rounds.
The ‘Bronze Bomber’ seeks an early knockout in this fight, and Fury will have to be wary, and on his shield. However, Fury dominated from round three of their last fight, and the fight will most likely take a similar pattern, with Fury growing more aggressive and putting Wilder on the back foot.
It is a dangerous fight for Fury, while the Alabaman has nothing to lose. In truth, this fight could go any way. But if Fury is on his game, the Gypsy King will take over as the rounds progress against the American and retain the WBC heavyweight belt around the seventh or eighth round by stoppage.
“I’ve given this 100 per cent my whole life and this is just another building block along the way, defending this precious WBC belt,” Fury told me on Friday night. “We all know I’ll give 100 per cent on the night. There will be no quitting. It will be do or die in the ring and you’re going to see 100 per cent on the night.” Game on. It will be a thriller as long as it lasts.
The lessons Fury learnt from fights one and two
Wilder has the ability to finish any fighter in the division with his freakish power – in both hands. Fury was knocked down in both the ninth and twelfth rounds. But he was too defensive in the fight, in spite of outboxing the American. Bob Arum, Fury’s US promoter, makes no bones about the danger Wilder brings.
“Wilder is like a loaded gun. A guy with punching power like Wilder is the most dangerous in the world. He can level you. I think you have to give credit to Tyson Fury. He is head and shoulders above every other heavyweight right now. When Fury puts his mind to it, and trains seriously, as he has done for this fight, I don’t think anybody beats him.”
As the old adage goes: put the bully on the back foot. Fury did exactly that from the opening bell in the second meeting, and took over after two rounds with aggression, power and meeting Wilder in the centre of the ring. John Fury, the defending champion’s father, as well as Sugar Hill Steward, the boxer’s trainer, has also been an adviser in this training camp, in Lancashire.
“I think Wilder will probably try and bring something different in the first round or so,” Fury Sr told Telegraph Sport. “He could make a fast start, hoping to catch Tyson cold. But as soon as Tyson gets up close and personal the result will be the same. Tyson has learnt from the second fight. He will grind him down and stop him as he did last time. We have not forgotten that. Tyson’ll stop him in explosive fashion. Wilder has got it all to do. He’s the one with the mental issues and demons, not Tyson. He’s the one rebuilding. But you can’t underestimate him.”