Saturday, December 09, 2023  |



An Inside Look at Wilder-Fury II From those inside the ring with them

Fighters Network

LAS VEGAS — Malik Scott and Steve Cunningham both like Tyson Fury. One, Scott, a Philadelphia heavyweight once sparred with Fury and is one of Deontay Wilder’s chief sparring partners. The other, Cunningham, once fought Fury, and also sparred with “The Gypsy King.”

Both bring a unique perspective to this rematch between Wilder (42-0-1, 41 knockouts) and Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) on Saturday night (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada (FOX & ESPN+PPV).

Wilder will be making his 11th title defense of the WBC belt, while Fury clings to something called “the lineal title.”

A formed title contender, Scott was stopped by Wilder in 2014. Since then, he’s sparred with both Wilder and Fury.

“Tyson was crazy enough to think he could win the first time, and after their first fight, he’s crazy enough to think he can win again,” Scott said. “What gave him this confidence was beating Wladimir Klitschko (an 11-year champion in 2015). That version of Wladimir was old.

“Tyson knew what he could do against him. It’s why he smiled the whole fight. You don’t do that against Deontay. He says he’s coming in heavier and he says he’s going to knock out Deontay in the second round.

“I don’t believe that for a second. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Deontay is the most athletic fighter I’ve ever shared the ring with. His punches hurt, and it doesn’t matter if you’re in 20-ounce or 10-ounce gloves.”

Fury came in at 256½ in the first Wilder fight. He says he’s looking at 270 for the rematch. He dropped to 254½ against Otto Wallin in Sept. 2019. In the first Fury fight, Wilder came in at 212½ pounds, which is the lightest Wilder has weighed since his pro debut when he came in at 207¼.

“The added weight hurts Fury and I think it helps Deontay,” Scott said. “Deontay could be and will be even better this time. I don’t know if you can say that about Fury. I know he has a new trainer and I know what they’re saying about being more aggressive. But how does that help going against someone who’s the hardest puncher in heavyweight history? I don’t see it.”

Neither does Cunningham.

The former two-time world cruiserweight champion fought Fury in 2013, dropping him with an overhand right in the second round before succumbing to him in the seventh. Fury and Cunningham also sparred later that year to prep the Gypsy King for the David Haye bout that ultimately fell through.

“Tyson is a far better boxer now than when I fought and sparred with him,” Cunningham admitted. “He better stick to that, if he has any hopes of beating Deontay. When we fought, I was 210 pounds, but 208 pounds, really. He’s fighting a guy like Deontay who’s almost as tall as he is (Wilder is 6-foot-7 2with an 83-inch reach; Fury is 6-foot-9 with an 85-inch reach).

“Fury is a pure boxer. He’s clean. That’s what he’s good at doing. Tyson is still goofy. For him being his size, though, he’s a really good athlete. You can not underestimate his quickness and handspeed.

“For us Americans, I think what gets on our nerves is Tyson’s mouth. I remember when we fought, I was thinking this guy is talking so much extra smack that it’s like he’s the underdog. It’s why I was like, ‘Dude, you’re supposed to beat me.’ I think Tyson uses his mouth to get himself up. He was bigger than me, taller than me. He was a natural heavyweight. When the cameras come on, that’s who he becomes.”

As for coming in at 270 pounds, Cunningham doesn’t think the added weight will hurt or slow down Fury. Fury fought Cunningham at 254 pounds and he was still on top of the smaller, more agile fighter.

Cunningham also thinks Fury’s knockout talk is just a ploy to entice Wilder into steering from his game plan.

“If someone like me can knock Tyson Fury down, at 208 pounds, hitting someone who was 254 pounds, just image what Deontay can do to him,” Cunningham said. “I hit him with a straight right. Deontay has to calm down, and I think he already has him figured out. It’s why I see Deontay winning by eighth or ninth-round kayo.

“I know the talk that Fury says he’s going to knock Wilder out in the second round. That’s a bad move, if he thinks he can do that. He won’t do that. He knows the kind of power Wilder has. That would play right into Wilder’s hands.

“If Fury does that, I would say Wilder knocks him out in four. Tyson is crazy, but he’s not stupid. Tyson can hurt Deontay. If you remember that 12th round, Tyson got up from that knockdown and he caused Deontay some problems.

“But in the end, I would say Deontay finishes him around the eighth or ninth rounds. He has Fury figured out. He knows what Fury can do, but I think he comes into this fight and he’s patient. The last fight, you can see, Deontay was trying too hard to knock Fury out. This time, he lets it come naturally.”

Said Scott, “Deontay is not underestimating Fury—I can tell you that.”

Malik Scott and Steve Cunningham both like Tyson Fury. They just don’t like him on Saturday night.