The wait is almost over as one of the most talked-about boxing rematches of recent memory beckons to take centre stage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Percolating for the last 15 months, the memory of the first fight, which ended in a controversial split draw decision, will be relieved as WBC champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury do it all again under bright lights, 439km’s from the venue of the first challenge.
The memory of the December 1, 2018 bout will, however, still be fresh in the memories of all and sundry. Fury outboxed Wilder for large chunks of the fight but Wilder, of course, twice knocked his opponent down to again demonstrate why is he the biggest single-shot puncher in the sport. Since then, much has happened on both ends.
Fury marked time with two low-key fights; memorable only for the nasty cut he sustained against Otto Wallin, although he was troubled in neither outing. More recently, the Brit turfed out his trainer, instead opting for American Sugar Hill, a scion of the Kronk boxing dynasty and a disciple of attack-minded, aggressive fighting. Many believe this signified an important shift for Fury, who in a jagged tone ahead of the latest showing, conceded that he was too defensive first time around.
Wilder, meanwhile, kept busy doing what he does best: knocking out other big men. Dominic Brezeale was savagely stopped in a single round, and then in November, the dangerous Luis Ortiz got sloppy after outboxing Fury and was banged out in the seventh. With the attention distant from previous fights, now, a win for Fury would be the culmination of a wild comeback journey after he sunk into depression in the two years following his 2015 win over the then-undisputed champion, Wladimir Klitschko.
A victory here could propel this biggest and loudest character in the division, deep into the public consciousness and give him even greater clout in the sport. This will, as no one will dare deny, be a tough feat against the often unrivalled power game of his challenger, who is albeit seen as sloppy in some quarters. With 41 stoppages in his 42 wins, there is no finisher like the ‘Bronze Bomber’.
I’ve said it so often: These guys I’m fighting, they have to be perfect for 12 rounds, but I only have to be perfect for two seconds,” said the trigger happy champion, Wilder. That to whom these words were directed, Fury, said: “I’m not bothered about getting hit and hurt. I’m coming out like a raging bull.”