Boxing is experiencing another soaring peak in interest and fandom of late, with the lull of the 00s and early 10s looking to be well and truly behind the sport. Superstars headline almost every division, with Saul’ Canelo’ Alvarez’s net worth a testament to fandom down the weights. Still, as has almost always been the case, it’s the heavyweight division that gets put on a pedestal and was so close to giving the fans what they wanted: a total unification bout to decide the first four-belt undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
However, this is still boxing, mired in the promoter, broadcast, and ego quagmire that has long stopped boxing fans from seeing so many of the best possible matchups. While it’s not as bad as when Floyd Mayweather was allowed to duck Manny Pacquiao until the Filipino had aged sufficiently, it’s still allowed at heavyweight.
Anthony Joshua versus Tyson Fury was all lined up, as confirmed by Fury’s co-promoter Bob Arum to DAZN, but the old school matchmaker was mistaken. As of May 17, it was official that Deontay Wilder would be given the trilogy fight with Fury, ousting a colossal meet in Saudi Arabia on August 14.
Following a delay to October 9, with the fight taking place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the trilogy bout between Fury and Wilder will, begrudgingly, take place. With Fury out to keep himself in line for the far bigger unification bout with fellow Brit Joshua and Wilder with nothing left to lose, it is at least shaping up to be an intriguing match.
Fury vs. Wilder so far
Despite claiming the WBC World title in 2015 and defending it ten times to the end of 2019, Wilder was consistently criticized for selecting weak, sub-par, or undeserving opponents. Then, when called to step up via a US$100 million deal to fight Joshua twice and defend in a mandatory, Wilder declined. Instead, it was onto cusp-contender and 40-year-old Luis Ortiz, and then a recovering Tyson Fury.
Fans would cite that his powder keg of a right-overhand was enough to stop anyone, with the highlight-reel shot helping to amass the mystique around the American heavyweight. Still, several of his lesser foes caught him out a few times, with Wilder’sWilde’doesn’t’’Wilder’swon’tisn’thadn’ts evident lack of boxing skill and near-absent 6’9” work who’s openings. This is where the 6’9’’ Fury, who’s worth some US$72 million, would step in and capitalize just two very low-grade warm-up fights after a three-year absence of battling obesity, mental health issues, and substance issues.
The first fight was the stuff of legend. Fury, still looking a little rusty, showcased his incredible boxing IQ, ducking and weaving, proving to be a nuisance throughout. Then, so close to the end, Wilder’s signature move landed, but the big Brit beat the ten-count. Even though he couldn’t beat the judges, it’s generally considered Fury won on the night.
In the second meeting, still irritated by the draw, Fury came out swinging, putting pressure on Wilder that the Alabama slugger hadn’t experienced in years. Fury never allowed the big right hand of Wilder to hit him, landing two knockdowns and a merciful seventh-round stoppage to claim the WBC strap. A trilogy fight isn’t needed, with many boxing fans seeing it as a harsh draw on Fury and then an easy triumph.
Fury vs. Wilder III predictions and expectations
While much of the early talk was about the Fury-Wilder trilogy bout stopping the fight to become undisputed, attentions have now turned to the battle at hand, taking place on October 9 in Las Vegas. Naturally, Fury was one of the first to posture his prediction, predicting that the fight won’t last seven rounds this time. Wilder has a fan in a 2016 opponent, Chris Arreola, who has the former champ reclaiming his belt because he has the most to prove.
However, outside parties are mostly trending towards a 2-1-0 record in the trilogy in favour of Tyson Fury. As of September 9, the boxing oddsmakers of the sports betting site Betway have Fury well-favoured at 1.36 to Wilder’s 3.10, with the ‘Gypsy King’ in Round 5, Round 6, or Round 7 at 13.00. Former heavyweight champion-turned-promoter David Haye concurs but doesn’t write off the ‘Bronze Bomber.’ Perhaps the most adamant is the legend Mike Tyson, who was reported as saying, “No way… Fury has his number.”
Is the trilogy fight what the fans wanted? Not at this moment. Will it be the making of a trilogy that belongs among the greatest heavyweight trilogies of all time? Possibly, but also, probably not. Still, with Wilder now needing to win rather than retain, we could see a fight that warrants putting off the biggest meet in modern heavyweight boxing.