Matt Christie ex­am­ines the avail­able ev­i­dence and pre­dicts the re­sult

Boxing News - - Contents -

The fight­ers’ strengths and weak­nesses con­sid­ered, and our pre­dic­tion

RE­CENT FORM TYSON FURY may have only en­gaged in 14 rounds of box­ing since 2015, but each of those 14 rounds came af­ter Deon­tay Wilder was last seen in a prize ring. So, it’s of­fi­cial, Fury is the more ac­tive fighter.

How­ever, and it’s an almighty how­ever, Fury’s rounds came against Se­fer Se­feri (four) and 10 against an out­classed Francesco Pianeta. The com­pe­ti­tion level was wholly un­der­stand­able when you con­sider the hia­tus that came be­fore. When you re­alise what comes next, how­ever, it’s woe­ful prepa­ra­tion.

Wilder last fought in March, sur­viv­ing a hel­la­cious bat­tle with Luis Or­tiz, a skilled and canny Cuban, to emerge vic­to­ri­ous. Also re­mem­ber that Wilder can boast four other ti­tle fights dur­ing Fury’s down­time.

Some have sug­gested that Wilder’s nine-month ab­sence could hurt him, but as re­cently as 2017 he re­turned af­ter nine months out to flat­ten Bermane Stiverne in three min­utes. EDGE: WILDER

BOX­ING SKILLS There is a ten­dency to write off Wilder as a one-di­men­sional slug­ger who makes it up as he goes along. But he is more ed­u­cated than has been re­ported. His jab, which can be feinted and dou­bled ef­fec­tively, is an un­der­rated rangefinder for his famed right hand. Yet it should be noted, when one con­sid­ers the ease with which Fury can switch to south­paw, how Wilder strug­gled for long pe­ri­ods against leftie Or­tiz. Cru­cially, he got there in the end. It’s true that Wilder’s overzeal­ous­ness to fin­ish off the wounded is not easy on the eye, but it’s even harder on the prey he pum­mels. Un­ortho­dox? Yes. Un­skilled? No.

Fury, at his best, is the best boxer in the divi­sion. He reads the game and his op­po­nents supremely well, is ac­cu­rate and eco­nomic with his out­put and uses his spi­der crab frame more grace­fully than any over­sized heavy­weight in his­tory. But is he as sharp as he was in 2014-15? Con­sider this: Muham­mad Ali dis­ap­peared for three years while at his peak, did not in­dulge in drugs, drink and overeat­ing, and even at just 28, could not re­gain his past form. EDGE: THE TEAMS Had Ben Dav­i­son, Fred­die Roach and Ricky Hat­ton been Fury’s squad for sev­eral years, it would be a for­mi­da­ble line-up of youth and ex­pe­ri­ence. But they haven’t. While Roach is just the cut­man, and Hat­ton a sec­ond, it’s a gam­ble con­sid­er­ing De­cem­ber 1 will be the first time the trio have worked a cor­ner to­gether. Dav­i­son, an ex­cel­lent young coach, has been fault­less since tak­ing over Peter Fury’s du­ties this year. He will likely be feel­ing the pres­sure, though, and when ad­dress­ing Tyson in the cor­ner, the in­clu­sion of Roach in par­tic­u­lar could heighten that ten­sion – and at­ten­tion – on the away team.

Wilder, mean­while, has the tried and tested pair­ing of Jay Deas and Mark Bre­land. Two fa­mil­iar voices who guided him through a sev­enth-round cri­sis against Or­tiz. EDGE: PUNCH­ING POWER Much like Wilder’s per­ceived lack of box­ing abil­ity, Fury en­ters the bout as a non­puncher. But it’s wrong to pre­sume he can’t hurt the cham­pion.

Fury dropped and stopped Chris­tian Ham­mer in 2015, two years be­fore the Ger­man went 12 with big-punch­ing Alexan­der Povetkin. Be­fore the win over Ham­mer came a fault­less beat­down of Dereck Chisora whose face at the end did not sug­gest he’d just lost a pil­low fight. Fury also be­came the first man to halt Steve Cun­ning­ham in 2013. Fury’s punches are clever and cal­cu­lated and, im­por­tantly, of­ten un­sighted. That el­e­ment of sur­prise could be key in this fight.

Like Fury, Wilder can un­load his power un­ex­pect­edly, but its al­to­gether more ex­plo­sive. His fists don’t just bruise, they


THE CHAL­LENGER: Fury is used to be­ing writ­ten off DKHDG RI D ELJ ĆJKW

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