On Saturday night, February 22, 2020, we will witness not only one of the most highly-anticipated world Heavyweight title fights of all-time, but also one of the biggest fights that can be made in the sport of boxing at this moment, as reigning WBC champion Deontay Wilder is set to rematch Tyson Fury, the man considered to be the division’s lineal titleholder.
The bout will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada and will be broadcast live on an ESPN+/FOX joint pay-per-view.
Meeting for the first time in December 2018, the two towering Heavyweights fought back and forth in a nail-biting 12-round thriller.
Though highly entertaining, the bout ended in a bit of controversy, as the ringside judges ruled it a split-draw, leaving the fighters, fans and media unsatisfied, and the boxing community as a whole calling for a rematch.
While it initially seemed as if an immediate rematch would be in store, the unpredictable Fury flipped the script at the last minute, signing a multi-fight deal with Top Rank and ESPN, putting the plan on hold.
Instead, both Wilder and Fury went on to fight two interim bouts, with “The Bronze Bomber” scoring back-to-back vicious knockout victories over Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz and “The Gypsy King” steamrolling through Tom Schwarz and overcoming an early scare to outpoint Otto Wallin.
Now, however, it’s time for the score to finally be settled. And with the rematch just days away, it’s clear that there are questions that need answers, as both men have something to prove.
Stylistically, the matchup between Wilder and Fury has always been seen as the classic pairing of a puncher vs. boxer.
Despite standing 6’7” tall, the 34-year-old Wilder, a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is a relatively lean fighter, typically weighing in below 215 pounds. Having said that, Wilder is still seen as arguably the most feared puncher in the division’s history, as evidenced by his thunderous right hand and his 41 career knockout victories.
The 31-year-old Fury, meanwhile, stands 6’9” tall and expects to weigh in for this bout near 270 pounds, though he defies the odds for a man of his size, as he’s a fluid mover with incredible speed and timing.
Given their respective skill sets, the first bout between the two played out as many expected. Fury outboxed The Bronze Bomber for long stretches, while Wilder knocked down his English counterpart twice, with the second nearly ending the fight in the final round.
With that being said, it would seem logical to believe that the gamelans of both men would be similar in the rematch. Wilder, for example, would be looking to remain patient and fight at distance, using his long jab to set up that patented right hand. Fury, on the other hand, would be looking to use his pure boxing skill to stick and move and outpoint Wilder.
But questions still remain.
Prior to the first fight, Wilder claimed that Fury needed to fight perfectly for 12 rounds, while he simply had to find his one shot.
That idea begs the question of whether Fury will be able to do just that on Saturday night. Can the lineal champion indeed prove that he can avoid Wilder’s big shots and implement his game plan over the duration of the bout in order to secure a victory?
Adding intrigue is the fact that, under the tutelage of new trainer Javan “Sugar Hill” Steward, the nephew of the late great Emanuel Steward, Fury has predicted that he’ll knock out Wilder within two rounds, saying that he plans to meet the heavy-handed American in the middle of the ring and slug it out.
Is that merely a smokescreen, or is The Gypsy King once again planning to flip the script? And if so, can he truly put Wilder away, a man who has only ever been knocked down once in a professional bout?
For Wilder, the WBC titleholder proved in the first fight that he was able to find Fury’s chin with his power shots and inflict damage. He wasn’t, however, able to finish the Englishman and if it weren’t for those two knockdowns, he would have undoubtedly lost the bout.
That begs the question of whether or not The Bronze Bomber will be able to close the show in the rematch, as he too has predicted.
In other words, can the former Olympian prove that his power alone is enough to beat a superior pure boxer in Fury?
As fight night nears, we will likely receive answers to these questions.
And although a trilogy bout is a likely possibility down the line, we will also likely have an answer as to who boxing’s best Heavyweight truly is.