Deontay Wilder will put his WBC world heavyweight title on the line on Saturday when he takes on Tyson Fury in a rematch fans have been clamoring for ever since the judges came to a split-decision draw in their first fight in December 2018.
That bout was an epic battle which ended with one of the most thrilling rounds in recent years. Wilder, the hardest puncher in the sport at the moment, clubbed Fury in the 12th round with a hard right followed by a textbook left hook to the skull.
The elusive Fury had outboxed the American for long stretches of the fight and survived an earlier knockdown in the ninth round, but he looked destined to become another one of the Bronze Bomber's many KO victims. Incredibly, the Briton picked himself up from the canvas and finished the fight.
It was the first time either man had tasted anything over than victory in a professional boxing match, and the two remain undefeated heading into Saturday's clash at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
Wilder vs. Fury 2 Fight Info
When: Saturday, Feb. 22 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: MGM Grand in Las Vegas
TV: Fox (pay-per-view), BT Sport Box Office (UK only, pay-per-view)
Live stream: ESPN+, Fox Sports Go (pay-per-view)
Odds (Caesars Palace): Wilder -125 (bet $125 to win $100), Fury +105 (bet $100 to win $105)
For Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs), a win would represent the culmination of a long and difficult comeback journey after he nearly threw away his career in the two years following his win over then-undisputed champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.
The self-styled Gypsy King would once again be a world titleholder with victory Saturday, and thanks to his brash persona, he would be able to call the shots in the heavyweight division.
A win for Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) would go a long way toward cementing his legacy as one of most fearsome and accomplished heavyweights of any era. In 43 career fights, only Fury and Bermane Stiverne have made it to the final bell.
Wilder has been criticized for his lack of all-around boxing acumen, but his power is undeniable. He's made a great career out of utilizing a long jab and patiently waiting for opportunities to land his power shots. A win over Fury would be silence some of his critics.
So who gets the glory? TalkSport's Michael Benson rounded up the opinions of several current and former heavyweights. Of the eight boxers cited, four are backing Fury (including Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk), three are in Wilder's camp (Charles Martin, Lennox Lewis and David Haye), while one (Dillian Whyte) was undecided.
Haye thinks Wilder gets a stoppage this time around.
"In his last fight, he got a couple of horrendous cuts over his eye. That could open up again, which would mean he'd have the same fight with one eye."
Fury was roughed up by Otto Wallin in what was supposed to be an easy tuneup fight in September. The deep gash has only had a few months to heal. If Wilder splits him again, the 31-year-old will be in deep trouble.
His path to victory likely rests on him using his slick defensive ability and 6'9" frame to frustrate Wilder. It worked well in the first match, and Fury had lots of success with jabbing and moving. If he gets hurt early, though, it becomes a nervy fight for survival against a guy with near-mythic power.
Over at The Ring magazine, they polled 20 people in and around the boxing world, including writers, trainers, boxers, promoters and others. That list favors the champion, with 12 backing Wilder and eight picking Fury to win.
Manager Vadim Kornilov thinks Fury can win, but he noted he might have to be perfect to do so.
"I think Fury is the better boxer and if he doesn't make any mistakes can get the victory," he said. "In reality, it's a 50-50 fight considering Wilder's power which can end the fight at any moment. Fury on points."
This fight may lack the action of the first match with so much at stake for both fighters, but the tension will be close to unbearable throughout. Every second in the ring is an opportunity for Wilder to unleash a one-two and end Fury's night. The danger is always lurking.
Fury's unpredictable nature and the untested pairing with manager Javan "SugarHill" Steward makes him an incredible cypher coming into this fight.
Just about everyone knows what they are going to get from Wilder. The version of Fury that shows up Saturday night could go a long way toward deciding the outcome of this one.