Preview: Wilder-Fury 2, The Biggest Show of Them All
It has been long echoed in the sport of boxing that the better, or, more savier boxer always wins the rematch. You research the phrase, and the first result that pops up will be an article from 1997, published by the SFGate. In it, you’ll find an investigation into heavyweight rematches where the narrative “Boxer vs. Puncher”, or, “Skilled vs. Slugger” could be applied.
The article was previewing the massively popular heavyweight rematch between “Iron” Mike Tyson and Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, in what would later arguably become the most infamous bout in boxing history, known colloquially as “The Bite Fight”.
The article would go on to reference three heavyweight rematches; Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, Floyd Patterson vs. Ingemar Johansson, Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier, all of which the perceived better boxer (and loser of the first fight) won in the rematch.
“History suggests the better boxer will win”, sure, this sentiment is true… sometimes. Just like the old phrasing of “styles make fights”, but, boxing is a very case-by-case sport, one with countless unknown and un-thought of variables. Hence, Hall-Of-Fame Ringside Commentator Larry Merchant branding boxing as “The theater of the unexpected”. Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury- the sequel, is a prime example of a fallacy in the historical hypothesis that the “better boxer” will win in a rematch.
Obviously, the roles portrayed fit themselves, Deontay Wilder, with his record a stunning 42-0-1 with 41 KO’s (a 95.35% knockout rate), he naturally fits the bland brandishing of being “the puncher”. Whilst, Tyson Fury, with his remarkable fleet-footedness, and unbelievable hand-speed for a man his size and stature, naturally fits the proclamation of being the “better boxer”.
So, that’s it, right? that’s all you need to know? Fury will just waltz in to the MGM Grand and box circles around a befuddled “Bronze Bomber”? Despite inconclusive historical evidence, Not necessarily. Here’s why-
The first fight was razor thin, like, really- REALLY close. It was a closer fight round-by-round, and statistically, than both fights between “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.
The extremely vetted and experienced eyes of California State Athletic Commission appointed judges: Alejandro Rochin, Robert Tapper, and Phil Edwards turned in scorecards that read 115-111 (Wilder), 114-110 (Fury), and, 113-113 (draw). The rounds scored in difference between Rochin (115-111 Wilder) and Trapper’s scorecards (114-110 Fury) were rounds 2, 3, 4, 7, and 8. Upon re-watching, my hypothetical score card read 7 rounds to 5 for Tyson Fury, but, factoring in the two 10-8 rounds for knockdowns by Deontay Wilder in the 9th and the 12th, I came to the reasonable and indecisive conclusion of 113-113 a draw (same as Phil Edwards).
Admittedly, I, and many other boxing experts with decades upon decades more education in the sport than me scoffed at the idea that somebody could possibly score the fight for Deontay Wilder. I particularly remember Steve Farhood exclaiming after the fight that the 115-111 scorecard was bad. Claiming that “It didn’t happen”. For those still firmly in the camp of Tyson Fury winning comfortably- I urge you to re-rack the fight. Removing the shock value of the great comeback story that was Tyson Fury in winning rounds against a then uncontested Deontay Wilder makes it a whole lot easier to score rounds for the Tuscaloosa man. When you view the fight through the lens of hindsight, revisionist history, it becomes much clearer why the spread was so wide on the scorecards. Simply put, there was not a clear enough winner through the 12-rounds these men boxed, neither man showed they were “better”, making the verdict of a draw a sensible, though disappointing result.
The final punch stats (courtesy of boxstat.co) read as follows:
Totals (landed) : 115 punches (Fury) to 85 punches (Wilder) +30 punch advantage for Tyson Fury
Totals (Thrown): 417 punches (Wilder) to 332 (Fury) +85 punch advantage for Deontay Wilder
Punch Accuracy: 35% (Fury) to 20% (Wilder) +14% advantage for Fury
Combination punching: both men threw the exact same number of two-punch combonations with 58 even over 12, while Wilder led Fury 279-168 in single punches with Fury landing >5 in 3, 4, and 5 punch combos.
No matter how you analyze the first fight, whether through the tried and tested 10-point must system, or through the cold hard numbers of the fight- only one thing remains clear, these two were nearly inseparable in their first fight.
Deontay Wilder has commonly been mistaken for an unskilled boxer by casual onlookers of the sport. Reason being? his explosiveness and his “killer-instinct”- the way he jumps all over guys when he gets them hurt. While definetly sloppy at times, Wilder has shown throughout his 43 professional contests much more skill than slop. Evidence of such can be shown by his pristine record, and the fact that he has equaled the great Muhammad Ali’s record of ten championship defenses with his last victory over Luis Ortiz.
In his last two fights since the draw a year and two months ago with Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder has also shown shades of improvement- signs that he has reached the prime of his career. In May of last year, Deontay Wilder took on former Olympian, and, bad-blood rival Dominic Breazeale- it took Deontay just over half a round to dispatch of his fellow American (who was ranked #1 by the WBC at the time). Next, we saw something we hadn’t seen yet- Deontay Wilder in a rematch. Luis “King Kong” Ortiz was considered the boogeyman of the heavyweight division for most of the 2010’s, he lived up to that claim against Wilder when he became the first man to stun the defending champ in March of 2018. Luis Ortiz pledged in the build-up to the November 2019 rematch that he was in the best shape of his career, claiming that everything had gone perfect in preparation for Wilder. And, that showed in the early rounds. Wilder was stuck going through the motions- trying to set up the Cuban for his classic right hand missile, finally, after a seven round chess-match that Wilder was loosing, he found one small opening for the straight right- and that was all she wrote.
Wilder, over these past couple of title defenses has shown me something that I cannot deny. Something that I don’t think Tyson Fury, nor his new trainer Sugarhill Steward are prepared for, and that would be the eraser that is Deontay Wilder’s booming straight right. No matter how many rounds he is down, he’s almost guaranteed to find it at some point in the fight. And as recent fights have shown, he has gotten nothing but better at being able to exploit even the smallest of opportunities to land fight ending blows when given the opportunity. And, as they did in the first fight, Tyson, even through his tremendous defense and lateral movement. And, if Fury hists the canvas in this fight- I have reason enough to believe he won’t be getting off the canvas, if he does, I believe Wilder will be fine-tuned, and prepared enough to close the show. In contrast, Tyson Fury has looked nothing but beatable and hittable judging based off of his tough last outing against little known swede Otto Wallin in September of last year. The fight that got former trainer Ben Davidson expelled from Fury’s training camp. Granted, the level of preparedness and intelligence implemented will rise as the opposition level rises, and Fury should be sharper in the rematch seeing that he’s had some more rounds in him since his comeback, and if you factor in the move to train with Steward is of great working order- I still can’t come to the conclusion that even the very best Tyson Fury beats this Deontay Wilder. He’s simply too primed for this moment to pick against him. His ability to stay calm even in deep waters when things aren’t going his way, his shot selection, and the fact that he will probably fill out 230 lbs., the heaviest Wilder has ever been for a fight. All of the evidence points to a big Wilder knockout in the middle rounds, although, if Fury truly stands his ground and goes for the knockout he has been promising, an earlier knockout is definitely a possibility.
Official Prediction: Deontay Wilder by way of knockout, round 5.