It was quite a bizarre scene in Dublin last month after Tyson Fury’s second comeback fight following not far south of three years out of the ring. There was an awkward ringside taking then lifting of Deontay Wilder’s WBC belt (which looked somewhat rehearsed) before Wilder himself stepped inside the ropes so that he and Fury could physically face off as their future face off was officially announced to the world. This capped off a fiery (peri peri level) weekend where Wilder had stormed Fury’s fight press conference, butting heads with Fury senior in the process, before helping to trash a local Nandos after bumping into Tyson’s pal and WBO middleweight champ, Billy Joe Saunders. All this comedic carnage outside the ring overshadowed a snore-fest inside it but whatever the fans made of that late summer weekend as a whole, one thing was for sure, the Tyson Fury show was truly back on the road.
As soon as the Wilder fight was announced, many within the boxing world began to give their two cents on the match up. Many (plus the bookies) have made Wilder the favourite for the fight with critical opinion revolving around the idea that this is the right kind fight for Fury but at the wrong time. With only two run-of-the-mill fights under his belt after returning from a two-and-a-half-year layoff, many will say that Wilder is far too much, far too soon.
In fact, some may still be getting their head around the idea that Fury not Anthony Joshua will be facing Wilder in their next fight. The whole negotiation saga and subsequent breakdown of those negotiations between Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn and Wilder’s shifting group of representatives could fill its own article (and may do in the future). Now though amongst the rubble of those failed talks Fury and his promoter Frank Warren have somehow snuck in and have at the very least delayed what was scheduled to be one of the biggest fights in the modern era of heavyweight boxing.
Now rather than face Wilder for all the belts, Joshua will perform his giant stadium filling magic trick once more this month versus a very tough opponent in Alexander Povetkin. If there weren’t enough stipulations involving Joshua’s fight with Wilder already, now beating the brutally tough Russian has also been added to the pile. Through his recent comments to the media, Joshua still seems confident that he and Wilder will square off sooner or later yet its clear that Fury has thrown an unexpected spanner in the works by managing to agree a bout with Alabama native Wilder before Christmas.
Now that Fury has cheekily jumped the Wilder queue past Joshua (and in truth also Dillian Whyte) the question is: can he take advantage of the opportunity his promotional team have given him? As mentioned above the naysayers will point towards the fact that, despite getting back into decent fighting shape impressively quickly, Fury isn’t anywhere near peak condition yet. And even if hypothetically he was, the more crippling issue of ring rust would still mean that Fury would come up short versus the explosive power that Wilder possesses.
Both of these viewpoints are highly valid, and Fury’s two comeback opponents have provided little more than two intense sparring sessions would. Yet he is undefeated for a reason, the man is extremely hard to hit and therefore to beat. Despite his typically hyped up claims that he plans to knock Wilder out, it’s evident that that kind of encounter wouldn’t suit his classically awkward and range-based style. If the fight is explosively brief then Wilder will more than likely be the man left standing however if it goes into the later rounds then the chance of an upset will heighten dramatically, it’s really that simple.
Either way Fury will have to be on top of his game perhaps rivaling his performance versus Wladimir Klitschko all those months ago to come out of a still unconfirmed US venue victorious. Whether he does or not you have to admire how he has strolled back into the heavyweight division and shaken things up after it was looking increasingly like a two-horse race for ultimate glory. The bookies rightly have Fury as the underdog for his upcoming winter brawl yet somehow you sense a betting man wouldn’t wager against him.