By: Kirk Jackson
Feb. 22nd, 2020 marks the date that will live in infamy. The date marks greater interpretation, if not absolute clarification as who the man is at heavyweight.
Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KO’s) meets “The Furious One,” “The Gypsy King,” Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KO’s) in a highly anticipated heavyweight showdown at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as part of an unparalleled, historic Fox and ESPN pay-per-view promotion.
As referenced earlier, with the decisive ending the fighters and fans alike are seeking, should come a clear picture of who rules the heavyweight landscape are stakes greater claim or inches closer to stand as the definitive heavyweight in this resurgent era of heavyweight. Arguably the deepest and best the division has been since the 1990s.
Because of the depth, and due to circumstances to where there are still a few different match-ups that need to materialize in order for us to reach our manifest destiny of heavyweight supremacy.
“It’s just people randomly making up stuff,” Fury claims. “I’m not sure how that stuff works. What I do know, when I beat Deontay Wilder, I will be the best heavyweight of my area, standing alone.”
In hindsight, the debatable result from their first encounter convinced the former undisputed heavyweight champion to modify his approach in the 12-round rematch Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Fourteen months after their hotly disputed split draw, Fury wants to be on the right side of history against Wilder this second time around.
“The draw played a massive role because it’s made me uncomfortable,” Fury said on a recent conference call. “It made me do things I didn’t wanna do. When we’re taken out of our comfort zone and pressed and pressed and pressed, then we become better. So, it was almost like a blessing in disguise that I didn’t get the decision, because I would’ve kept working on my boxing – boxed, boxed, boxed. You know, I believe I can out-box Deontay Wilder very, very comfortable.”
“But the fact of the matter is, I believe that I out-boxed him comfortable last time. But it’s not good me believing it. The judges have to believe it. And to guarantee victory, I’ve gotta get a knockout because I don’t wanna leave anything unturned this time. I don’t want another controversial decision. I don’t want people to say, ‘Oh, well, he won. No, he won,’ whatever. I want it to be a defining win either way.”
Wilder for his part, is emerging as the definitive heavyweight in this era and aiming towards dominance of this division. He wants to stand as the king, cementing his significance as the best in the division and as the premier fighter of a generation.
“The Bronze Bomber” wants to destroy “The Gypsy King.” Wilder enters the rematch fully confident in his abilities and publicly states he does not believe Fury is as confident as the trash talk suggests.
“I don’t believe a single word Tyson Fury says, except for the fact that you have to nail him down to the canvas to knock him out,” said Wilder. “If he keeps getting up, I’m going to keep knocking him down. He’s going to think twice about the punches, and feel, it’s not even worth getting back up. I’m very confident.”
Some historical tidbits entering this rematch, at 95.3 percent, the WBC champion Wilder has the highest knockout ratio in heavyweight boxing history. His 10 title defenses currently has him tied with Muhammad Ali for the most ever in the sport’s glamour division.
Two-time heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist George Foreman refers to the rematch this weekend, as one of the three most anticipated heavyweight rematches ever, behind Max Schmeling vs. Joe Louis II in 1938 and Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier II in 1974.
“There were three important rematches in boxing history,” Foreman told Boxing Scene in a phone interview about the heavyweight division.
“The most important was Max Schmeling and Joe Louis when the whole world was watching. That was the most important rematch of all time. Louis won but the expectation was that he was going to lose again, which made the rematch so interesting. Then Ali-Frazier. I thought nobody could beat Muhammad Ali and then in the first fight Joe Frazier hits Ali with a left hook (in the 15th round) and Ali’s legs went up in the air and when they announced the rematch everyone was on their toes because Frazier had beaten him the first time and Ali was on the comeback trail and it was one of those rematches you knew anybody could win.”
“Wilder had that fight won and we thought he had it won,” Foreman said of the knockdown in the 12th round in which Fury somehow got up from a vicious right-left combination.
“That’s what makes it one of the most important heavyweight rematches in boxing history, because you don’t know who’s going to win. If Tyson does what he did in the first fight; boxing him and not playing around, I think he could easily win a decision. If Wilder decides to come back and can land that right-left hook again, then he can get this guy out in seven or eight rounds. I really don’t know what’s going to happen. I wouldn’t bet on the fight, I’ll tell you that.”
Continuing Foreman’s point of significant heavyweight rematches throughout history, some include:
And there’s numerous more to reference throughout boxing’s rich history.
American sports fans and athletes (also fans) appear to be highly aware of the upcoming Wilder-Fury rematch. This event is highlighted with excellent promotion across various platforms, helping generate buzz and anticipation for the historic event taking place this weekend.
According to Nielsen Media Research, the two Wilder-Fury II commercials airing during FOX’s broadcast of Super Bowl LIV were watched by more than 100 million people a piece in the United States. An audience of 103,500,000 saw the first Wilder-Fury rematch promo at 8:02 p.m. ET, slightly more than the 101,100,000 who saw the second commercial at 8:37 p.m. ET.
Nielsen also revealed that 126,500,000 viewers combined watched seven Wilder-Fury II commercials during FOX’s pre-Super Bowl coverage from 12:56 p.m. ET until 6:10 p.m. ET, about 20 minutes prior to kickoff. The last two pre-game promos, airing at 5:50 p.m. ET and 6:10 p.m. ET, were viewed by audiences of 33,400,000 and 49,600,000, respectively.
The promotion behind this fight has been full throttle to say the least. Promotion from networks like ESPN, Fox, BT Sport Boxing, BBC, Sky Sports — in addition to the promotional companies like Top Rank and Premier Boxing Champions helped usher in the hype for this event. Other platforms across social media and various publications have also been beneficial.
And it doesn’t hurt Both Wilder and Fury for that matter, possess magnetic, exciting personalities and have talked the talk, making this highly anticipated rematch must see for even the most casual of observers.
How the fight turns out varies depending on who you ask.
Manny Pacquiao, WBA Welterweight World Champion
Wilder KO 10: “Never bet against a puncher, particularly one like Deontay Wilder. I look at Wilder like I do at a Mike Tyson, another puncher. I see Wilder winning this rematch with Tyson Fury by 10th-round knockout.”
Carl Frampton, former two-weight world champion
Fury W 12: “I think it’s a very difficult fight to call. Fury won the last one by a mile, but I think Wilder will be more aggressive this time, which may play into Fury’s hands. Wilder can win by KO at any moment, but put a gun to my head, and I’d say Fury on points.”
Thomas Hearns, Hall of Famer
Wilder W 12: “Deontay Wilder can box and win, but I think that his power will be the difference in defeating Tyson Fury. I believe that it will go to a decision again, but with Deontay Wilder winning it.”
This historic rematch holds great significance to each champion. For Wilder, the WBC champion since 2015, believes a definitive win against Fury will help make his case once his career comes to a close.
“This fight will only add to my legacy. I consider Fury one of the best of the division. It’s going to be amazing to knock him out and put him on my resume,” said Wilder.
“There is no other fighter than him I’d rather face at this moment in time, and he accepted the challenge. I’m happy to be in this position right now. That’s something in my [people] we miss out on—that l-o-v-e, baby. Ain’t nothing wrong with a little love. Love is the key. We hang together and stick together. We’re all part of one race—the human race.”
While Fury seems content with his place in history – if he is able to defeat Wilder this weekend, it appears Wilder is seeking something more substantial as far as leaving a mark in history. As soon as he hangs up his gloves, Wilder wants to be remembered as be the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time and even perhaps the best ever boxer.
“When I leave boxing, I will be known as the one that was the best ever in the heavyweight division, if not in boxing, period. That’s my goal,” said Wilder. “When I retire, people are going to be upset, because they’re going to want to see more. I try to provide them with a lot of things while I’m here. That’s why I say, ‘give me my roses now. Love me now.’ Because I am the best to have ever done this. I am the hardest hitting puncher in boxing history.”
Lofty expectations and Wilder has some stiff competition to surpass if he ever plans on cracking the all-time great heavyweight conversation. But why not aim high and shoot past the stars? Wilder famously abides by the mentality and mantra of…
“Speak it, believe it, receive it and it shall be yours.” – Deontay Wilder
“You’re witnessing greatness. We all are great. But greatness is only determined by service. I only have six more years left, and when I retire, some people are going to be mad because they won’t get the satisfaction,” said Wilder. “It’s going to be a great fight. It’s unfinished business, it’s one of the biggest fights in the world. We celebrate for 15 minutes, and then we keep on moving.”
Plenty of questions ahead this weekend and the culmination of Saturday will provide many answers. The conversation of legacies and significance can be expanded on once we reach that conclusion. Can’t wait to see what unfolds.