They came; they saw; they concurred
By Robert Ecksel on January 15, 2020
Fury is as big as a tree, but he emulates Ali and Willie Pep. (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)
The MGM brass is stringing up lights in anticipation of the fireworks. Five weeks from now, fortunes will be made and change hands, and if the rematch is half as good as the first fight, it will have been worth the wait.
When Deontay Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) and Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) met last December in LA, their opposing styles and objectives made for an interesting fight. Wilder does what he does best. He turns out the lights like no one on earth. The same can be said, with modification, of Tyson Fury. Unlike Wilder, whose power is primordial, the stuff of the gods, Fury is an anomaly. He’s as big as a tree, like some humongous basketball player, but he emulates Ali and Willie Pep.
There’s still some still dispute about the first fight’s outcome. Fury boxed like a dream. Wilder punched like a dream. The judges were sleepwalking. Calling it a draw wasn’t the biggest robbery in boxing history. It may not have been a robbery at all, as it was the perfect place setting for the February 22 rematch.
Wilder has looked gargantuan since he drew with Fury. He trounced Dominic Breazeale in May. Then he stopped Luis Ortiz a second time in November. Leave it to Deontay Wilder to end the year with a bang.
Fury also fought twice since he fought Wilder. He crushed Tom Schwarz, a come-forward foregone conclusion custom-made for a 6-foot-9-inch master boxer, before struggling with Sweden’s tougher than expected Otto Wallin, whose punch caused a gash above Fury’s right eye that required 47 stitches. Fury battled through the gore to win a hard-fought unanimous decision.
The rematch may be less dramatic than the first fight, but you wouldn’t know it listening to the fighters at the presser. in LA.
Wearing a wild suit, one of Fury’s fever dreams printed on linen for the occasion, he topped it off with a green baseball cap worn backwards, looking every inch a mischievous teenager itching for a fight. Wilder was more subdued, but no less impressive. He looked like Pharaoh in an Italian opera, an ebony god eager to slay disbelievers. Of the two men, Fury may have better blarney. But Wilder talks up a storm that makes hurricanes shudder.
Fury spoke first. “I didn’t have the gas to finish him in the last fight,” he said, “but this time I can turn the screwdriver until he’s gone.”
Getting rid of Wilder won’t be easy. He accepts getting hit as fair exchange for the moment he hits someone in the face. One can quibble about Wilder. He’s not the most graceful thing on two legs. We're familiar with his gifts and limitations. But casuals love him, and even old-timers are impressed.
Power isn’t Fury’s thing. He’s a death by a thousand cuts kind of guy. He is always annoying. He is always troublesome.
“He thinks I’m going to come out herky-jerky with my famous style,” Fury said, “but I want him to meet me in the center of the ring and have a slugfest, best man wins. I didn’t have the gas to finish him in the last fight, but this time I can turn that screwdriver until he’s gone.”
Fury may need more than a screwdriver to keep Wilder off him.
“What’s going to happen in this fight is that I’m going to get what I rightfully won last time,” continued Fury. “I’m going to get the green belt and keep my lineal title. And if he wants to rematch me after, I’ll beat him again. I’ve already beat him once, and I know I can beat him three times in a row.
“Let’s make it a Marvin Hagler vs. Tommy Hearns type of fight. I’ll meet you in the middle of the ring on February 22. Just watch out for the right hand, because you’re going to sleep in two rounds.”
The likelihood of Fury stopping Wilder in two rounds is slim to none. But Fury has defied odds forever.
“Deontay Wilder hasn’t been returning my calls or messages since I beat him last time,” said Fury.” He’s trying to keep his distance. He didn’t want to be around me so I can get in his head. Deontay Wilder can make all the excuses he wants to make. But at the end of the end of the day, it’s just talk. Everyone on his team can tell him he won that fight, but as a fighting man, you know when you win and lose a fight.
“He’s going to try to land the right hand. If I’m stupid enough to get hit with it, I deserve to lose. I hit the floor twice in the first fight, but it’s all about how you respond, I’m a fighting man. I’m looking for a knockout. If he can’t finish me, I’m going to eat him up. I’ve never been as sure of anything in my whole life.”
Wilder waited for Fury to finish. He bided his time until it was his turn to talk.
“I’m going to rip his head from his body,” Wilder said. “I told Fury two years ago I was going to baptize him. And I did just that. Rising up is part of the baptism and he did just that.
“This time around, it's a different story. This time around, this is called 'unfinished business.' This [time around], he won't be able to get up.”
Fury was unified heavyweight champion of the world. He is also lineal champion, which means much to some and nothing to others.
“The undisputed means shit,” Wilder said. “It doesn’t mean anything. Belts don’t mean nothing. He has a lineal title, something that’s make believe and fake. But February 22nd, that lineal bullshit ends. It’s all about who’s the best of your day. It’s not about what belt you got holding your trousers up, it’s not about anything, it’s about who you fight and who you’ve beaten. And that’s it.”
Fury believes he beat Wilder. Wilder doesn’t agree.
“He needs validation from the people” explained Wilder, “some type of inspiration and motivation to feel like he beat me. He knows he didn’t. And if so, why so many trainers? He’s rotating trainers like he do his drawers. Firing, hiring. I still have my old trainers. I got the same people. You don’t see me firing no one or bringing no one on. He’s supposed to be this great fighter and I’m supposed to be this guy who has no skills. When you have power, there’s no way around it. You can’t prepare for that.”
Anthony Joshua learned that the hard way in his first fight with Andy Ruiz Jr. He remedied it, not spectacularly but with concision, in the rematch, but is out of the running as far as Wilder is concerned.
“He already got knocked out,” Wilder said. “He’s out of it, way out of it. He needs to prove himself again. And I don’t mean prove yourself by hitting and running from a little fat guy all over the ring, I mean prove yourself on high level again. It was a three horse race, he got eliminated, it’s still a two horse race now. Two horses, and there’s only gonna be one standing after this fight.”