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Thursday, October 21, 2021

In retrospect: The two previous meetings between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder

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Déjà vu, anyone? For the third time in less than three years, boxing fans all over the world are gearing up for a clash between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.

After Fury’s sensational win in February 2020, few expected the pair to go head-to-head again, but Wilder has demanded a third bout, and so here we are, on the cusp of another clash between two of boxing’s top heavyweights — arguably the best of the modern generation.

‘The Gypsy King’ is the odds-on favourite in the Wilder – Fury 3 odds, and it’s no surprise given how the two previous meetings panned out. Much can be learned from studying those prior encounters, so let’s take a short trip down memory lane and re-live the two prior showdowns between Fury and Wilder.

1st December 2018: Split-decision draw

Few fights had been as heavily anticipated as Fury and Wilder’s initial contest in Los Angeles back in December 2018. Fury had only fought twice since returning to the sport following a lengthy hiatus, and many expected that the then unbeaten Wilder would have too much power for the Manchester native.

Fury proved everybody wrong. In a mammoth encounter, the Gypsy King out-boxed Wilder, tiring him out with his impressive agility and footwork. Even when Wilder struck true in the final round, Fury had the answer. The ‘Bronze Bomber’ thought he had done it when his right-left combination sent his opponent thudding to the canvas. Miraculously, Fury recovered, got up, and by the time the final bell had rung, the Englishman re-established his dominance.

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Over the course of the 12 rounds, most felt that Fury had edged proceedings, but the judges felt differently. One scored it 114-112 in Fury’s favour, one had it 115-111 for Wilder, and the other 113-113, meaning a split-decision draw was the result. It was no surprise that a rematch was pencilled in 15 months later.

22nd February 2020: Fury wins by TKO

Fury’s performance meant that he was heavily favoured heading into the rematch, and the Gypsy King delivered a royal performance. Wilder appeared punch-drunk within a few rounds, as Fury once again out-manoeuvred him in the ring. The American hit the deck in round three, and although he managed to get back up, the fight was all but over.

With blood streaming from his ear, Wilder did his best to stay in the contest, but Fury simply had too much power, too much guile, too much quality. The American’s corner threw the towel in midway through the seventh round, and that was that. Fury had proved himself on the night.

Wilder would later protest against his corner’s decision to throw in the towel, and he also blamed the heavy suit and helmet he wore in the ring-walk. But in the end, Fury was simply the better fighter on the night, and Wilder will have plenty to prove when the pair meet for the third time.

Speaking truthfully, Wilder’s legacy as one of the sport’s great heavyweights will be on the line when he takes to the ring. All the pressure is heaped upon him. He didn’t have to go for a second rematch, he could’ve let Fury and Joshua slug it out whilst slowly rebuilding his reputation in the background. This is an all-or-nothing fight for Wilder, and he’ll need to be at his absolute best to avoid further embarrassment against the Gypsy King. 

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