Tuesday, January 31, 2023  |



Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury finally returns big-time heavyweight boxing to American soil


Since Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury locked eyes on one another in January 2016, it was plainly evident any meeting between the behemoths would finally return big-time heavyweight boxing to American soil.

Few, if any other boxers, can match the duo in the trash-talking department. When you add in their size and the public’s quench for a marquee heavyweight championship bout, all the ingredients are in the cooker for a bout that will crossover into the American sporting public’s consciousness.

News of the fight being finalized for later this year kicked off SportsCenter on Saturday evening. When’s the last time ESPN’s flagship program was highlighted by boxing, let alone with the big men? Some fans have bemoaned that they’ll have to shell out money to watch the fight on Showtime Pay-Per-View, but that’s exactly where this fight belongs.

The Sin City strip will be buzzing during fight week with fans traveling over from England, no doubt, and it wouldn’t be a shock if the event eclipses the 300,000 mark when all the North American PPV buys are tallied up.

It’s been too long since we had such a heavyweight championship fight on American land. Sure, detractors will argue that Fury is far from his best. That his two sparring-session esque victories this summer barely illustrate that he’s anything approaching his top form.

It says here his awkward style, boxing ability and height advantage will trouble Wilder, widely regarded as the best puncher in the sport. The WBC heavyweight titleholder opened up as a slight favorite at -130; bettors can place wages on Fury at even money.

The 32-year-old native of Alabama is coming off his career-best win, a 10th-round stoppage of Luis Ortiz in a fight of the year candidate. Wilder (40-0, 39 knockouts) was incredibly hurt just three rounds before he rallied to score the stoppage, setting up what he then hoped would be a fall unification showdown with Anthony Joshua. It never materialized despite months of dragged-out negotiations.

Fury, though, is a willing dance partner. The 30-year-old no longer officially holds any heavyweight belts, but he remains the lineal champion dating back to his November 2015 upset victory over Wladimir Klitschko. For his victory over Francesco Pianeta on Saturday, he weighed just 18 pounds more than he did for the best win of his career.

The Gypsy King has been in plenty of dull affairs; his style lends itself to such matchups. So for all the hype surrounding Wilder-Fury at the present, it would be far from a surprise if the fans were booing vociferously by Round 3.

That was exactly the case during the first quarter of Wilder-Ortiz as the Cuban easily outboxed the Olympic bronze medalist. Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) might be able to do the same, but the intrigue will lie in just what occurs when Wilder lands flush, and he will at some point.

And no matter what happens on fight night, it’s going to be a wild ride on our way there. Fury promised in the ring in Belfast: “I’m knocking you the fu– out, boy.”

Wilder, who made the trip to scout his future foe, responded in like kind: “I can’t wait to fight you because I am going to knock you out, I promise you. You’ve never been knocked out but you’re going to feel the experience, what it feels to get hit by the Bronze Bomber.”

Fury’s promoter, Frank Warren, took to social media to boast that the face-off that was taped featuring the big men was the best of the series. Fury is quick with an insult and he’s oozing with charisma. So, too, is Wilder, whose timing with jokes is almost as fierce as his overhand right.

By the time November rolls around, Wilder and Fury will have whipped everyone into a frenzy. It’ll be the biggest heavyweight fight stateside since the mega matchup between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson in 2002, even if this bout won’t approaching the magnitude of the two hall of famers sharing the ring.

Wladimir Klitschko reigned over boxing’s glamour division for a decade and never once staged a meaningful fight in the U.S. Lewis’ fight with Wladimir’s older brother, Vitali, was a classic but the fight received little hype in the lead up after being made on short notice.

In between Tyson-Lewis and Wilder-Fury were a bunch of ho-hum heavyweight matchups and solid fights that barely moved the needle. Only a handful of them even made it to pay-per-view, and those bouts did little business using the vehicle. Vitali vs. Danny Williams? Oleg Maskaev-Hasim Rahman 2? Hell, even Tyson’s final fight, a dreadful affair with Kevin McBride, ranks among the heavyweight PPV offerings.

Wilder-Fury is decidedly different. Joshua-Wilder is the fight we hoped for, but the matchup we’re receiving instead figures to satisfy boxing fans in the meantime. And any fervent supporter who says they’re aren’t excited isn’t telling the truth.

Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger