The tiniest details held in secret by the largest of men and their faithful will decide the outcome of a fight that is still dividing opinion three months after its shock announcement. The fun, games, promises and stupidities are over and on Saturday night in this endless sprawl of freeways, shameful tented ghettoes and beaming…
The tiniest details held in secret by the largest of men and their faithful will decide the outcome of a fight that is still dividing opinion three months after its shock announcement.
The fun, games, promises and stupidities are over and on Saturday night in this endless sprawl of freeways, shameful tented ghettoes and beaming opulence Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury will fill the ring at the Staples Centre in downtown to fight to the very finish.
In their bunkers with boxing rings, far from the prying eyes of outsiders, they have each compiled dossiers of notes to find answers to victory. Fury and Wilder have rattled off predictions in demonstrations of strength as they have fought for the hearts, minds and votes of those sent to dissect them. In each telling they make a stronger case for glory and in each telling they cancel something from the other man’s strengths. It is a fight that could end in a shattering blink of an eye or after twelve full rounds of evasion, frustration and exposure – all endings have been posted.
Fury has been quick to remind the unconverted that he can punch and Wilder has sat with the same eager flock to remind people he can box; enough wise heads from a sport with a swollen council of elders have nodded sagely at the new distinctions. If a fight is defined by the unknowns then this fantastic scrap qualified as a classic a long, long time ago.
Wilder is unbeaten in 40 fights, 39 finished early and this is his eighth defence of his WBC heavyweight championship. In any era he would be a handful, a fighter with the power in any fist and from any angle to leave a man sleeping as he falls. He has knocked out some truly useless fat men, it has to be said, but his history as champion is, in modern terms, perfectly respectable.
Fury relinquished, returned and lost his world championship belts in a few hard months of spiralling darkness that took over his life in 2016. His road to redemption is the stuff of this fabled city, a tale to make sensible adults shake their heads and utter: “You couldn’t invent it.” Well, he did and the end of his little fantasy trip from the despair of 2016 ends or continues when the first bell sounds. It is, I need to add, a bell only a dreamer could have ever imagined tolling again in Fury’s life. He was over 27-stone last year.
In their gyms the men hired to help the pair prepare have spoken their wisdom, designed their plans and now they can only rest uneasily until they reach the dressing room. Fights at this level between two boxers with vastly contrasting styles require a lot of brain from the men tasked with getting them ready. There have been some golden snippets from each of the teams, more a tantalising tease than a definitive taster of what we will watch; Fury will fight as a southpaw at times and Wilder will take a double step at times.
There is a feeling of utter confidence inside the Wilder entourage, a cabal of odd parts, where both ancient and modern boxing men have come together to build their champion. Away from the flashing cameras and out of earshot of Fury’s goading, Wilder has been reassuringly bright in his analysis of Fury. The same can be said of Fury, a genuine scholar of the sport, who often raids history for perspective on his own affairs. They have each considered defeat, pushed it aside as remote, but both agreed a loss would not be terminal. It is an honesty they share with each other, but very few at the level they fight are as open. Sadly, too many of their sensible ramblings have been erased by the nasty slapstick of their endless pushing and shoving. Niceties only occupy a tiny corner in the modern boxing realm and everybody knows that a bit of argy bargy has always been hot currency in the fight game.
In the ring Fury is expected to move and Wilder might try and start fast. However, I think Fury will hold his feet a bit more than expected, saving his legs for later and also standing his ground to show Wilder he can. Fury had the finest jab in modern heavyweight boxing and that vast, accurate tool must be found and used with force very early.
Wilder has been patient before and will need to be again. He has to find range early and not go chasing after missing with his big punches and even bigger swings. Wilder could once jab, but somewhere between an Olympic bronze medal in 2008 and a bloody pile of unconscious men in the professional ring, it was lost. Pity, it’s possibly the tool to dismantle Fury.
It will end when Wilder connects cleanly and it could end at the final bell with Wilder exhausted and trailing on points. A Wilder win is the easy choice, but Fury has a look about him and if I can still see that look after a few rounds there might just be something very special in Los Angeles this weekend. I believe they call it a Hollywood ending.