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12th January 2020
By: LIKE 2 FITE
On February 22, we will witness the highly anticipated rematch between WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and Lineal champion Tyson Fury, live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The first meeting was full of controversy with Fury seemingly winning the majority of rounds but was knocked down twice in the 9th & the 12th with the judges scoring it a split decision draw.
It’s been the first time in a long time that the promotors stateside have put their differences aside to see the bigger picture. The hatred between Al Haymon and Bob Arum is probably the worst kept secret in boxing. Other factors contributed to the rematch being put on the back burner. Promotional issues aside, Fury signing with Top Rank caused a delay, but the deal made perfect sense for him at this stage of his career. Fury also agreed a brief stint in the WWE where the Gypsy King earned a swift $15 million. Not bad for a night’s work, scripted or not.
Since the last fight both men have remained unbeaten but didn’t fight anyone of great significance to move the PPV needles or raise their pound for pound aspirations. Wilder fought and knocked out an aging Luis Ortiz for the second time and destroyed Dominic Breazeale inside a round. Fury blasted out Tom Schwarz and was taken the distance by Otto Wallin after getting cut badly in the early rounds. All four opponents the two men fought were ranked by the main four governing bodies but were not match ups which lit up the division considering who was available.
The rematch with Wilder was signed and agreed in principle before Fury’s last outing. The Wallin fight was expected to be a walk over, but Fury could have blemished his unbeaten record if the doctor wasn’t so understanding. Bob Arum would have been the most relieved man in the building when the final bell rang. Nothing is a given in boxing especially if you compete in the heavyweight division.
The opening round saw Wilder begin as the aggressor, holding the centre of the ring but not managing to connect with anything significant. Fury’s only success was a combination right at the end of the round. A close one to score depending on how you view the judging, but neither fighter did enough to clearly take the round. Round 2 was just as difficult to score, Fury beginning to box & move but this time Wilder finishing the round strongly with a 1-2 combination. Another extremely close round and could easily have been scored either way.
Fury’s faints and movements started to unsettle Wilder in round 3, boxing well on the front foot and utilising the left hand bringing swelling to Wilder’s eye to edge the round. The 4th lacked action and excitement, Fury making Wilder miss wildly but neither man managing to take control and again unclear with regards to scoring. Nice combinations by Fury in 5 and 6 was enough to see him take both rounds and now boxing well, whilst Wilder continued to struggle with the distance and land that monstrous backhand.
In rounds 7 and 8, Fury really stepped it up and took control, landing the right hand several times without rocking Wilder who himself tried to reply but missing by a distance. In round 9, Wilder found his range and caught Fury with 3 or 4 right hands early on and sent him to the canvas inside the first minute of the round. Fury did well to avoid further punishment and recovered well, but a clear 10-8 round to Wilder.
In round 10, Fury continued much like the previous rounds taking the round comfortably and arguably now too many rounds ahead now for Wilder to catch him. It was a similar story to the tenth in round 11 and then that colossal knockdown came in the 12th which looked to have ended the fight but miraculously Fury rose up to continue. Fury recovered brilliantly and shook Wilder perhaps for the first time of the whole fight with a straight right followed by a left hook to which Wilder was forced to make the clinch and score another 10-8 round.
The majority of fans and pundits had Fury ahead on points before the judging ruled it a draw. The shock across the faces at ringside was voiced on behalf of Floyd Mayweather Snr who aimed his frustrations to the judges in favour of Fury. One of the few who disagreed was ESPN’s Dan Raphael had it 114-112 to Wilder – not sure what he was smoking that night, but Fury clearly won at least 7 rounds (10-9) and Wilder clearly won 2 rounds (10-8). The remaining 3 rounds were not so clear, but even if you unjustly gave them all to Wilder, he only just scrapes the draw. All the factors which played out in the first fight make the rematch all the more interesting to the unfinished business both men have between them.
Deontay Wilder remains with career long trainer Jay Deas and isn’t making any significant changes to his camp. Although, we have seen an improvement in his technique and timing in his last two bouts since fighting ‘The Gypsy King’. Fury on the other hand has left trainer Ben Davison and teamed up with Sugar Hill Steward from the world famous Kronk gym. Sugar Hill is the protege of the legendary Emanuel Steward and claims that Fury’s game plan is to KO Wilder rather than using his boxing skills which served him so well the first time around. It’s hard to make sense of this due to Fury’s style but it is seen by most people as nothing but mind games. Wilder’s game plan will be the same as always. His phrase ‘It only takes one shot’ has been voiced in every interview he has had in the build-up.