One of the reasons why the first fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder was so beloved was because it served up a fascinating clash of styles. In Fury, you have a tall heavyweight with all the talent in the world: he can fight on the inside or keep it long, in a southpaw or traditional stance, and that makes him arguably the toughest opponent in the big league.
The Gypsy King has utilized an outstanding ‘counter-attacking’ style in big fights throughout his career, keeping Wladimir Klitschko at bay with clever footwork and head movement and then doing the same, by and large, to avoid a knockout against Wilder in their titanic first clash.
As for the WBC champion himself, well, his route to success is unflinching and never-changing: he will look to walk Fury down and deliver the lights-out punch – as he has done to 41 of his previous 43 opponents.
It’s a fascinating clash of styles that ensures the rematch will be appointment viewing for tens of millions of fight fans around the world, and explains why the odds on Wilder vs Fury are so well-matched: the Gypsy King is a narrow -100 favorite with the sportsbooks, with the Bronze Bomber a shade behind as the underdog at +100.
Of course, one of the two blemishes on Wilder’s knockout rollcall was Fury himself, who twice got up off the canvas to make the eight-count despite looking for all the world to be out on his feet. But, by hook or by crook, he managed to avoid Wilder’s dynamite-laden hands to make the end of the fight and take a deserved cut of the judges’ scorecards.
However, there has been one major anomaly that has emerged recently that suggests that potentially at least, Fury’s ability to outmaneuver Wilder on February 22 might be significantly hampered.
You might think that the Gypsy King would want to go into the rematch as light as possible, in order to give him extra agility and spring in his step to get away from Wilder’s big punches. But Fury’s camp has taken the eyebrow-raising decision of demanding their man bulks up, with the 31-year-old claiming he will weight up to 270lb on fight night – a stone heavier than in the original bout. He claims to be eating as many as six meals a day in readiness for his date with destiny.
Fury has claimed to be seeking a knockout punch of his own at the MGM Grand Arena, and that is why he has both bulked up and employed the services of a new trainer. That means a parting of the ways with Ben Davidson, the mentor who helped him overcome his mental health demons to get back in the ring at all, and in his place has come Javan ‘SugarHill’ Steward – nephew of the legendary fight coach Emanuel.
It is a deliberate ploy, according to the Brit, to facilitate the all-important KO blow. “If I didn’t want a knockout, I wouldn’t have hired a Kronk trainer,” Fury has said, referencing the famous gym from which the Stewards have operated throughout their career.
So while the challenger has packed on the pounds to enhance his own punch power, will a decrease in his dynamism and speed inside the ring have a detrimental effect? We’ll soon find out.