Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder 3: B/R Staff Predictions
It's a word with a specific definition, but it's got a unique meaning in boxing.
Say it among fans of the sweet science, and you will instantly conjure images of Zale and Graziano, Bowe and Holyfield or Ward and Gatti depending on the ages of the audience.
And then there's the granddaddy of them all: Ali and Frazier.
The Hall of Fame rivals fought three times from 1971 to 1975 and combined for 41 of the most compelling rounds the sport—and particularly the heavyweight division—has ever seen.
Earning admission into the trilogy neighborhood are big men Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, who will meet for the third time on Saturday in Las Vegas after initially going 12 rounds for a disputed draw in Los Angeles in 2018 and returning for Fury's win by seventh-round stoppage in Las Vegas in 2020.
"He knows he's lost twice and that he's going to lose the third time," Fury said at Wednesday's final pre-fight press conference. "He's in denial, and he's getting knocked out. His legacy is in bits. I knocked him out, and now I'm going to retire him."
Up for grabs for the third consecutive time will be the WBC title strap that Wilder had won and defended 10 times before suffering the first loss of his career in the second fight. He'll arrive to T-Mobile Arena with new trainer Malik Scott, who was promoted amid Wilder's post-Fury excuse tour that included his bizarre suggestion that previous trainer Mark Breland was secretly working for his foe.
"I went into Deontay's toolbox and pulled everything out that he did well," Scott said. "I wanted to make sure that we drilled it over and over again. I didn't teach him anything new. Deontay Wilder can do it all. I just pulled some of those things out of him."
The third fight was initially pushed aside in favor of a Fury duel with Anthony Joshua, but Wilder earned a ruling from an arbitrator that mandated he get the third date before Fury and Joshua squared off.
The trilogy fight was then set for June 24 but was postponed when Fury tested positive for COVID-19.
The fight will top a pay-per-view card that's set to begin at 9 p.m. ET and will be distributed by both Fox Sports and ESPN+.
It will cost $79.99 to see how it turns out, but before you lay out cash, three members of the B/R combat sports team—Scott Harris, Tom Taylor and Lyle Fitzsimmons—got together to predict the result.
Take a look at what we came up with, and drop a line or two with your own picks in the comments.
Tom Taylor: 'A Question of How Long [Wilder] Can Survive'
I have the same objection to this trilogy fight as most of its naysayers: Tyson Fury is clearly a better boxer than Deontay Wilder. No matter how you scored their 2018 draw, Fury was obviously the more skilled man in the ring that night. He made that even clearer in their 2020 rematch, when he battered a bewildered Wilder to a seventh-round stoppage.
It's been almost two years since that second fight, and both men have ostensibly been hard at work for the majority of that time, but it's difficult to imagine Wilder completely closing the gaping holes in his skill set that left him so exposed in his first two fights with Fury. He was as evasive as a parking meter last time out. He might be a little more fleet-footed this time around, but it probably won't change much.
I expect the third fight to look like the second but go on for longer. Fury might be a bit more patient, and Wilder might keep himself out of trouble a little more effectively, but the themes will be the same. Fury will push the action, land punches and bunches and Wilder's nuclear option will become more and more of a long shot as the damage accumulates. It's just a question of how long he can survive.
Fury by TKO, Rd. 11
Scott Harris: 'Fates Swing the Pendulum Toward the Underdog'
Tom's analysis is strong as usual, but it contains within it the same magical two letters that drift through every analysis of Deontay Wilder: if.
Fury will outbox Wilder "if." Fury is the tougher fighter "if." He's the crafty veteran who should take Wilder into deep waters, you know, "if." That "if" is a euphemism for the baseball bat Wilder carries around where most humans have just a regular human arm. To paraphrase Mike Tyson, everyone has a game plan until they get hit with a baseball bat.
At 33, Fury is still in his prime, but not by much. And with fighters, the end comes fast. If you want to push in your chips on the notion that Fury will steer clear of trouble indefinitely, that's a bet I'm willing to take. With that kind of power, Wilder can hit and miss. Fury has to fight a mistake-free fight. He can use that toughness and output to get it done, but here's guessing the fates swing the pendulum toward the underdog. And who can blame them? He has a baseball bat for an arm.
Wilder, KO, Rd. 4
Lyle Fitzsimmons: Fury Is 'Kryptonite to Wilder'
Wilder is the definition a fearsome puncher. Maybe the most fearsome in history.
So for anyone to opine that he's got no chance to defeat Fury—a man he dropped two times when they first met in 2018—well, let's just say that person isn't particularly boxing-aware.
But just because Wilder can conceivably beat him doesn't mean he will.
As my learned colleagues have pointed out, the man with the most in-ring skill and the most ability to alter a flagging game plan also happens to be the one who won seven and eight rounds on two scorecards in the first fight and every moment of six-plus rounds in the second.
And it's not Wilder.
In fact, across 18-plus rounds against the Bronze Bomber, Fury has shown a quality that none of Wilder's other 41 opponents have displayed: the ability to take his best punch and reply with his own.
That's why Fury was able to get off the floor twice to get a draw in the first match.
And that's why Fury was confident enough to walk toward his man with his own arsenal in the rematch, something no one else had ever done with success against the 10-defense WBC champion.
The reality that Fury is a highly skilled, extremely confident and undeniably brave guy is impressive enough. That he can be all those things in a 6'9" frame while carrying better than 270 pounds makes him nothing less than a marvel to watch.
And short of an Alabaman's answered prayer, it makes him kryptonite to Wilder.
Fury by KO, Rd. 8