Matt Christie examines the available evidence and predicts the result
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