Boxing is said to be re-entering a golden age.
There’s a wealth of talent through the weights, boxing events are selling out football stadia, and the fights that fans want to see are being made.
The reality however is that all the recent growth and success of the sport are tied in to the health of the heavyweight division.
For the first time in a long time, there’s more than one pre-eminent force, two of whom will put their unbeaten records on the line in the Staples Centre in the early hours of Sunday morning.
WBC World Champion Deontay Wilder and former four belt champ Tyson Fury have accrued a combined total of 67 professional wins from 67 fights. 58 of which have been knockouts (Wilder with 39, Fury 19). By the end of proceedings this weekend, a heavyweight totem will have been toppled.
— Boxing on BT Sport 🥊 (@BTSportBoxing) November 29, 2018
Aside from the tantalising prospect of one of these figures being beaten, it’s the contrast in styles and the balance of style that frank this fight as a probable classic.
Wilder is a weapon. No question. He’s been decapitating fighters from day one and even by Fury’s admission, his power is unique and must be respected.
Wilder’s footwork has been labelled as everything from poor to atrocious. His ungainly style tends to set up his ungainly punches. Many, if not most of his knockouts end with the Alabama native standing far too square in front of his opponent, winging desperate looking hay-makers onto the bowed head of some unfortunate.
The thing is, it works. In fact, it’s been an unbeatable approach.
On the other side of the coin, Fury is the biggest technician the heavyweight division has borne witness to. A stance switching, punch slipping giant who can dance and trade in equal measure.
This one factor will be the fall back for Tyson Fury backers. Technical prowess.
The main factor failing the Fury vote is where he is in his impressive comeback. After beating Wladimir Klitschko, Fury ballooned to ridiculous weight of 29 stone and stayed at that weight until June of last year. By his own admission, he never thought he’d be back in the ring.
Incredibly, in less than 18 months, he’s 10 stone lighter and fighting for the World Championship once again. Regardless of how impressive a personal achievement it represents, it’s poor preparation for fighting one of the most dangerous men in boxing history.
Many believe that Ricky Hatton would or could have beaten Floyd Mayweather or Manny Paquiao had the Macunian not put on as much weight in between fights. Fury, for the record, has steadfastly rejected this notion, citing Hatton specifically.
Timing beats Speed, Precision beats Power
This is what the fight boils down to. Punching versus boxing. Power and speed versus timing and precision.
When both are fully realised, timing and precision should win out every time. There’s no question over Wilder’s ability to deliver on his attributes, we know we’ll see power and speed.
Will we see timing and precision from Tyson Fury? That’s the fight defining question. If Fury can fully realise his talent in the ring in the early hours of Sunday morning then Deontay Wilder could be in for a long night. If Fury struggles to control proceedings then he will likely find himself on the canvass.
— Deontay Wilder (@BronzeBomber) November 30, 2018
The common conception is that if Wilder fails to deliver the knockout in the first half of the fight he may find trouble. The expectation is that as the rounds fall to Fury, the Bronze Bomber will become increasingly desperate and exposed to Fury’s boxing.
This is not reflective of reality.
Wilder has seen rounds 10-12 in six of his eight title defences, and obviously, he’s delivered a knockout on every occasion.
Similarly, Fury is expected to try ‘jab and grab’ his way through 12 rounds for a points win. The Gypsy King was registered 19 knockouts from his 27 wins (70 per cent) and at this weight class, it only takes one punch from any of these fighters.
All of the above goes to suggest this is a particularly difficult fight to call.
Two era leading fighters meet in the squared circle in Las Vegas and betting along style expectations appears a bad call from this vantage point.
There’s little recent form to go on, there’s still questions over his condition, but there’s no better man to pick apart a fighter with a technical deficit.
I’m going for a simple, but decent value match bet win for – Tyson Fury