Wilder vs. Fury II: historical matchup in heavyweight boxing?

Opinion Piece by Michal Slowak

Ladies and Gentlemen… what a night of boxing that was on 22 nd of February. Those who were passionate enough to stay up till 5am like the Boxingholic team, saw probably the best fight of the decade. True clash of titans, the best versus the best, Wilder and Fury facing each other in MGM, Las Vegas—the temple of boxing. But let’s start a little earlier… 

On 18 th December 2018, Tyson Fury—former undisputed champ who for two years struggled with drug addiction and depression—comes back to face “the baddest man on the planet” in what became one of the greatest bouts that boxing has ever seen. The bout had everything—show of technique and movement, power punches, knockdowns, and the 12th round miracle. I am not going to speak about how Fury got up that night, because I have no clue how Fury got up that night. But he did. Fight ended with a historic draw. The excitement before the rematch could not have been bigger.

Few days before Wilder vs. Fury II, I rewatched the first match between Fury and Wilder again. As much as I would love it to be a draw, Tyson Fury simply won that fight. He out-boxed Wilder in majority of rounds and was a better man on the night. I have no doubt about it. But I also believe that the fight could have been easily stopped by the ref in round 12, when Fury’s head hit the canvas. I still think that Fury won the bout, but when I look at the broader picture, draw seems to me a lesser of a crime than it did on the night of that bout.

One year and 4 months later, those two fighters are scheduled to meet again to settle their unfinished business. 

In my opinion, both fighters are at their absolutely best. Fury is properly back as he is coming to the bout after scoring two victories in his last two bouts, same as Wilder who is coming to the rematch after big knockouts against Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz. Both of the fighters seem to be in tremendous shape. When the bout was officially announced, I knew it is going to be a fight that boxing will remember for a long time. The excitement got even bigger when the heavyweight trinity dynamic changed after Andy Ruiz Jr. in a surprising fashion knocked out Anthony Joshua in June 2019. It seemed that there are only two, unbeaten champions left, so the fight in Las Vegas was the ultimate test of who reigns as the best heavyweight boxer in the world.

The fight build up was absolutely amazing. 

Which is not a surprise knowing that two biggest talkers in boxing met on same conferences. Insults, verbal and physical violence, and jokes and teasing each other were rather a normal thing before Wilder vs Fury II. Both of the fighters tried to get into each other’s heads and do everything to be mentally victorious before the bout. As much as before the first bout, I truly believed Gypsy King was living in Wilder’s head rent free, before the second match I found Wilder to be more calm and confident. The week of the fight was crazy, as truly the whole boxing world was watching with enjoyment the last conferences and final weigh-in. There was a mix of excitement and mystery in the air. 

People did not know how it is going to end, but they knew it is going to be big.

I spoke to around 20 fellow boxers, coaches, and friends who like me are fans of boxing. The conversation was simple—Wilder or Fury? 

The answers I have been getting only proved to me how perfect match up this bout is. Like me, majority of people had no fucking clue how it is going to end and who will become the best fighter in the world. I think the only conclusion—we as Boxingholic, our friends, and fellow boxers had—was that Wilder certainly will not win on points. Besides that, nobody knew what was going to happen.

The night of the fight was crazy. We were so excited, that no co…ffee 😉 was needed to keep us awake till 5 in the morning. 

Wilder vs Fury II was everywhere—in the news, on YouTube, on Facebook, on Instagram—absolutely everywhere. From 3 am I swear we were counting minutes till the start. And finally, at 5:12am UK time after fighters made their crazy walkouts, the bout was about to start. Both of them looked scary, ready and pumped to go. 

A Historic moment. The peak of excitement. The first round bell rang.

Round 1:

Fury started crazy! It was surprising to see how aggressive he was from the start. Jab and right hand, controlling the ring—he clearly did not want to leave the fight in the hands of referees. Wilder was on the back foot, but few times responded with jabs and crosses to land that signature, big right hand. No doubt the round was for Fury.

Round 2:

Amazing round. Wilder landed few lead hooks and strong jabs. The double jab of Wilder was definitely effective. The big right hand he landed at 2:01 of the second round got Fury right on the chin. Fury responded few times with a jab, but I got this round for Wilder. 1-1.

Round 3:

The first thing I said when this round started was that this round was not going to the distance. The thing that happened minute and a half later proved my point—dominant round for Fury and the big right hand that knocked down Deontay Wilder. “Down goes Wilder, down goes Wilder” sounded to me like the famous Frazier vs. Foreman line. And Wilder is down again, but no knockdown though. He barely survived it.

Round 4:

How is he surviving it? Wilder is holding for his life for the entire 4th round. Big round for Fury, but at this point it seems like it does not really matter. It is not going to last 12 rounds. Wilder holding for his life and Fury looking tremendous. Wilder down again—again no knockdown. Surprisingly to me, commentators did not mention the damage Fury was doing with the amazing body shots.

Round 5:

Crazy start for Fury. Wilder is really hurt, but he truly showed the heart of the champion here. Perfect round for Tyson Fury. Absolutely perfect. 1:43 into 5th Round, Fury scores another knockdown and it didn’t seem Wilder can make it—he cannot stand. I do not know how Wilder survived it. Fury lost a point, but even that didn’t seem to bother Fury.

Round 6:

Wilder is barely walking, Fury is looking for a finish and it is a matter of seconds before the end of the fight. Wilder is definitely having cardio issues and problems with balance. Wilder is holding for his life.

Round 7:

Fury is dominating and dominating and dominating and it is finally all over! Wilder’s corner throws in the towel. IT IS ALL OVER. Tyson Fury became a WBC heavyweight champion of the world.

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Unbelievable performance from (I am not afraid to say that) the best heavyweight boxer on the planet. The number one. The Gypsy King—Tyson Fury. He truly did not leave any space for ambiguity during the post-fight discussion and there are no controversies—what Fury did was dominating Wilder and genuinely beating the shit out of him for 7 rounds before the bout was stopped. What a night of boxing.

Fight analysis + opinion on controversies:

First thing I did after waking up in the morning was rewatching the bout… 4 times. After analyzing the bout, I have noticed few crucial aspects that contributed to the end result. Here are 5 main conclusions about what happened during Wilder vs Fury II.

As he himself mentioned on press conferences, Tyson Fury was in a great shape. He was 100% ready for this fight and looked way better than in Wilder vs Fury I. Firstly, Fury looked bigger and stronger. The decision about gaining weight was definitely a smart move. Fury was stronger and his punches from first round seemed to be having bigger impact on Deontay Wilder, what surely affected Wilder mentally.

Wilder from the first seconds of the fight look odd to me. I am truly curious what “other things” he meant at the end of the fight interview, but the champion from Alabama did not look like himself tonight. He was weirdly off balance and seemed physically weaker than his rival. The jab was putting him off balance, which was not really a case in the first fight.

It must have been the 3 rd knockdown punch that actually contributed to Wilder’s taking an L. After getting hit by Fury, Wilder seem to have been in the same situation as Joshua with Ruiz in their first fight. On the replays it looked like he was hit in the temple and when you get hit there, you get this concussed state that is explainable to non-boxers as “being drunk feeling”. Wilder has not recovered from it and from that moment on, the next 4 rounds were a path till his final fall.

4-7 Rounds were so one sided it is hard to talk about boxing here, it was a beating. In my opinion, people who claim that the stoppage was too early or that the corner shouldn’t have thrown the towel are a bunch of stiff dossers that have no clue about boxing. I would not find it controversial if fight was stopped during 5th or 6th round. Wilder was getting seriously battered and unresponsive and the argument saying that Wilder’s power would have flipped the situation is just downright bullshit.

The biggest hero except Tyson Fury is Deontay Wilder’s cornerman. I found Wilder’s decision and post-fight comment quite odd. Firing a man who saved you from getting your head knocked off from your body isn’t a right decision. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is heavyweight boxing and if things went wrong, Wilder could have ended badly injured. I know so many people that finished their careers after particular fights. Saving a fighter from excessive punishment is the role of the coach and the decision he made was right. I found the discussion about it quite comic itself, for anybody who has a clue about boxing would find it obvious that Mark Breland’s decision was a correct one on that night.

I will leave professional fight breakdown to those who do it professionally.

Final Note

To conclude, whatever happened, it was one of the greatest boxing matches in history of the sport. No doubt. Tyson Fury again surprised everyone with his mentality, boxing skills, and charisma and they were certainly something that was pleasant to watch. Winning means nothing, likewise losing means nothing. It wasn’t Wilder’s night and he lost to a better man. I don’t think he is done nor is his career is over and with absolute certainty, I will say that he will be back.

Does Trilogy makes sense? Come on…. of course it does.

 

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