by Zaheer E. Clarke
Published August 27, 2018, in the Western Mirror
The long-awaited clash between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury has been tentatively set for later this year. Expect blood, sweat and fireworks when it’s finalized.
By all accounts, a clash between Deontay Wilder, the WBC heavyweight champion, and Tyson Fury, the last lineal heavyweight champion, is set for the end of this year in Las Vegas. Fans and pundits were hoping to see a unification clash between Wilder and Anthony Joshua, the reigning WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO champion. However, those plans collapsed and in its place fell the long-awaited yet surprising clash between Wilder and Fury.
Two years ago, long before Fury was stripped of his IBF heavyweight title; admitted to having drug and mental health problems and vacated his WBA, WBO and IBO titles, he and Wilder were rumoured to fight in the spring of 2017. The fight was supposed to revive the appeal of the heavyweight division in the US and worldwide with the unification of the WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts. However, Fury’s troubles shelved the then glorious possibility of a unification bout to determine the undisputed champion in the heavyweight division.
Unfortunately for boxing, the last time such an opportunity presented itself in the heavyweight division was almost 20 years ago when Lennox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield to unify the WBA, IBF and IBO belts with his WBC title in November 1999. Fury and Wilder are set to fight in November or December this year, but sadly only two titles will be on the line, Wilder’s WBC title and Fury’s lineal heavyweight title.
Fury, just two fights removed from his exile from boxing, is without a championship belt and if he wants to lure Joshua into a potential clash of the Britons next year, this is his route to do just that. Defeating Wilder in spectacular fashion will return the lustre lost by Fury during his exile and in his two bouts since defeating Vladimir Klitschko. All the belts around Joshua’s waist belonged to Fury and Joshua didn’t beat Fury to get them, which is how fans like champions to be determined – in the ring. Having the WBC title around his waist will likely force a mega clash in Britain between him and Joshua. However, we shouldn’t hold our breath as Joshua doesn’t seem desperate to fight the best of the best like Wilder and Fury.
If Wilder defeats Fury in the potential end of the year clash, then Joshua will have no more excuses to evade a Wilder showdown. Joshua, the current WBA, WBO, IBO and IBF champion, spoke of fighting either Wilder or Fury after he defeated Joseph Parker in March this year for the WBO title. Thereafter, Wilder and Joshua’s teams were involved in in-depth discussions regarding a possible megafight later this year. Wilder even conceded to fight Joshua in the UK at the insistence of Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn. However, with all the talk and concessions, the fight fell through over what can be assumed was differences in the split of the purse and the possible date of the battle.
Joshua has now opted to fight Alexander Povetkin, the WBA No.1 challenger, on 22 September 2018. Any potential Joshua-Wilder or Joshua-Fury clash will have to wait after the two bouts between Wilder-Fury and Joshua-Povetkin, with the earliest possible date being 13 April 2019.
Wilder and Fury, in my opinion, are fighters who will fight anyone, anywhere. Fury has taken on challengers outside of Britain in places like Ireland, Canada, the US and Germany, where he defeated Klitschko for the unified titles in 2015. Similarly, Wilder has fought outside of the US in other countries such as Mexico, England and Puerto Rico. Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn, on the other hand, seem hell-bent on only scheduling fights in Britain. All 21 of Joshua’s professional fights have been in Britain.
“When two fighters are not afraid to fight each other it is easy to make a fight happen,” said Frank Warren, Tyson Fury’s promoter. “There has to be a desire from the fighters – Wilder and Fury want to fight, it’s that simple.”
“It’s no good talking about fighting the best, challenging the best and then bottling it when a chance comes,” stated Fury. “I know Wilder is a fighting man and just wants to fight – we are real fighters, unlike the other guy (Joshua).”
With the decline of heavyweight boxing in the US, this Wilder-Fury clash on US soil and especially in Las Vegas has the potential of reviving the heavyweight boxing fandom in the US. Two weeks ago, no one saw this fight on the cards. However, in a matter of days leading up to Fury’s clash with Italian Francesco Pianeta, the battle between Wilder and Fury was seemingly agreed with both men shaking on it after the Pianeta bout. For several pundits, after the enthralling Wilder-Luis Ortiz bout in March, this Wilder-Fury encounter could be another fight of the year candidate if it lives up to the hype.
Ricky Hatton, former light-welterweight world champion and now boxing promoter and trainer, believes – wholeheartedly – that Fury will get the better of Wilder in the clash.
“I’ve seen Tyson in the gym and from what he’s done he beats Wilder all day,” Hatton told Fight Hub TV. “He’s been absolutely phenomenal in the gym.”
Wilder boasts a record of 40 fights with 40 wins and 39 ending in bruising knockouts. Savagely, he has knocked out all 39 opponents he has faced (he fought Bermane Stiverne twice with one going by way of a decision). Fury, like Wilder, is undefeated with a record of 27 fights with 27 wins and 19 coming by way of knockout.
Fury is taller than Wilder, usually carries more weight and has the longer reach. However, Wilder has ungodly punching power and flaunts the best right hand in boxing. Wilder has recorded seven title defences so far, but Fury knows how to beat champions, having defeated Klitschko, who had gone unbeaten in the heavyweight division for ten years with over 18 title defences in that time.
Who will win? Wilder is the favourite with Fury still fighting ring rust after two and a half years out of the sport and just two fights under his belt since. However, don’t count out the ‘Gypsy King’ Fury. We saw what he did to indomitable Klitschko.
Until next time …
© Zaheer Clarke
Zaheer E. Clarke is a sports columnist, freelance sportswriter and a multi-award-winning blogger. He believes the Wilder-Fury battle will be a turning point in both fighters’ careers. He has his money on …
This blog article was published in the Western Mirror on August 27, 2018.