by Vito Basile
December 1st, 2018 is the day that the heavyweight division in boxing was resurrected. Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury shook the boxing world in what was one of the best performances by two heavyweights since probably Klitschko v. Lewis, or any of the Klitschko brothers’ fights in the early 00s. On that night, judges scored the match a split decision draw; one had Fury winning 114-110, another had Wilder winning 115-111, and the third scored it a 113-113 draw. Re-watching the fight recently, I scored it 115-111 in favor of Wilder, but I felt that a few rounds could’ve gone either way, and could easily have changed the outcome of the fight. If it weren’t for two knockdowns by Wilder, I think the judges would have scored those rounds differently, and it might’ve been just enough to edge Wilder in the 9th and 12th rounds.
In that fight, I thought Wilder surprised most analysts. I feel like he won the majority of rounds against a very technical, and much quicker, opponent. Fury, meanwhile, looked very comfortable, with great head and body movement, and he had good control of the ring, even when he was backpedaling. With Fury v. Wilder 2 on Saturday, I’ve got five keys to victory for Fury:
Control the ring: Fury did a great job in the first fight with his ring awareness and keeping Wilder moving, preventing him from getting good angles and really landing his right hand (minus the 2 knockdowns). Fury needs to do the same thing he did in the first fight, and use his length to his advantage.
Pick up the pace: Fury is a very technical, methodical fighter, so I know saying this goes against what he does: the reason the first fight was so close was that Fury started very slow in the first half, allowing Wilder to be more aggressive and keeping him vulnerable. Fury needs to push the pace early on, avoid gassing himself out, and throw everything at Wilder to pressure him and force him to throw bad punches.
Head and body movement: This is where Fury shines and makes his opponent pay. He did an excellent job in the first fight of moving and not taking much damage from the power punches Wilder threw. The same needs to happen this fight; Fury must keep Wilder from connecting, and keep him to doing minimal damage.
Jab, jab, and more jab: Fury excelled in the first fight because he used his jab to keep his distance and set up combinations. The same thing needs to happen in this fight. He needs to establish the jab and follow it up with a hook, straight, etc. Wilder struggles against volume punchers.
Counter punching: This is something I don’t think Fury did a whole lot of in the first fight. He needs to utilize his quickness and his movement. If Fury can establish his jab, followed by his head and body movement, Wilder will have a hard time lining up his right hand, and this fight could be a lopsided affair.
If Fury can repeat the first fight and just tweak a few things, I think he can win without the controversy of a split decision, and allow the judges to determine close rounds. Fury is a great fighter who can win rounds without knockdowns, although he has enough power to put a fighter away, and he can fall back on his endurance and late round effectiveness. For his size, he’s a well-conditioned heavyweight that can wear down Wilder, much as he did in the first match-up. Fury is one of the best heavyweights in boxing, and this will be a great fight, likely setting up a third bout.