By: Sean Crose
Just over a year ago, Andy Ruiz stunned the world by besting heavyweight kingpin Anthony Joshua in the towering Brit’s American debut. Just over six months later, Joshua regained his numerous title belts from Ruiz in slick fashion. By changing strategies and employing effective boxing rather than thunderous power, Joshua returned to his previous perch atop the heavyweight division. He wasn’t the first big name heavyweight to make an impressive comeback. Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali, Mike, Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and George Foreman were all able to return from the depths of defeat, as well. Strangely enough, however, it appears few – if any – feel former WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder can regain past glory the way Joshua and others have.
For the uninitiated: Alabama’s Wilder had been in possession of the WBC’s famed green title belt for five years when he first met lineal champ Tyson Fury in late 2018. Although Fury proved to be the far slicker of the two, Wilder was able to hold onto his portion of the heavyweight crown by putting Fury flat on his back in the 12th and final round. Fury was able to amazingly get up before the count of ten, yet Wilder was able to walk out of the ring in Vegas that night with a draw.
Fast forward to this past winter. In their second go round, Fury completely dominated Wilder by essentially taking away the man’s range. Wilder may be the hardest hitter in the history of heavyweight boxing, but he needs a certain amount of distance to make his punches effective. Fury, fresh from the tutelage of Sugar Hill Steward, took that distance away, beat Wilder up, and won by stoppage in the seventh. Fortunately for team Wilder, a third fight was apparently built into the contract should Wilder lose the rematch. Wilder, needless to say, is eager for a third go round with Fury to transpire.
While there’s little doubt Fury absolutely dominated his man in the second Wilder fight, I find it puzzling the impending third meeting between the two is being written off as an afterthought. Team Fury is so self assured it’s already set up a pair of matches to go down between Fury and Joshua AFTER the third Wilder battle. Likewise, the boxing media has been looking beyond Wilder to salivate over the Fury-Joshua scenario.
Had this February’s Fury-Wilder fight been the first time the two heavyweights had met in the ring, it would make sense that people would overlook Wilder’s chances a second time around. The two men have fought twice, however, not once. If that weren’t enough, Wilder almost won the first fight by knockout. Yes, Fury brilliantly changed strategies, and yes, Wilder is crude in the ring, relying too much on his power. Is Wilder so unteachable, however, that there’s virtually no chance he can employ a strategy to match Fury’s in a third match between the two men? Many, if not the majority, of analysts and fans seem to think so. Don’t count me among their number. Although I certainly favor Fury over Wilder heading into their next bout, I find it silly to completely write Wilder off. Silly and less than insightful.