By: Thomas Nicholls
It was November 2017 in lavish Monte Carlo and the Boxing aficionados are congregated around a Blackjack table ahead of the final press conference for Dereck Chisora’s European title bout with Agit Kabayel.
Emerging from the backdrop in what, at that time, was a very rare public appearance, Tyson Fury at 28 stone, wiping sweat from his brow.
Smiling, laughing and joking with his former adversary Chisora, Fury was without a license, without a trainer and without a hope, or so it seemed, of ever stepping through the ropes again.
Since that night in Dusseldorf, Fury has gone to the very bottom, openly confessing that he did not want to live any more. Tales of driving at high speeds towards a bridge, drink and drug fuelled weeks upon months and £50 orders in KFC. Perhaps only a few people ever believed the “mack” would return.
Videos begin to emerge online of a desperately overweight, but still lineal champion, battling through some pad work with soon to be best friend, trainer and “lifesaver” Ben Davison. Could he return?
Stone after stone after stone, Fury is carving out a light at the end of the darkest of tunnels and in the summer of 2018 Fury was back.
Two routine wins over, lets face it, no hopers in Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta and the Wilder fight is made. Yes, just like that. In less than 12 months, Fury has travelled from a sweat soaked white polo shirt in a Monte Carlo casino to being face to face with Alabama monster puncher Deontay Wilder in a rain sodden Belfast.
As Boxing historians preach, to be the man you’ve got to beat the man and whilst fellow British heavyweights Dillian Whyte and of course, Anthony Joshua continue to improve and impress – Tyson Fury is still the man.
In the opposite corner on Saturday night will be stood an almighty task, but nothing like the challenge Fury has overcome since he tearfully sang an Aerosmith number to his wife Paris in November 2015. Deontay Wilder, for all his flaws, has put each of his 39 opponents on the floor. He is a devastating puncher.
Nobody is too sure of how this fight pans out. Journalists, pundits and boxers alike are tipping either a Wilder KO or a Fury points win and understandably so I guess. I imagine that Wilder will try and unsettle Fury very early in the fight, his lightning athleticism, testing the condition of Tyson and his 20 stone weight swing.
Avoiding the go to cliché of anything can happen in heavyweight boxing, I’ll stick with the “what if’s”. What if Tyson Fury is the Tyson Fury that completely outthought and outfought Wladimir Klitschko in 2015? What if he negates Wilder’s wildness and counters using the craft he did/does possess? It’s a fascinating match up.
“Lifesaver” Ben Davison has called upon the experience of Freddie Roach and Ricky Hatton to assist him throughout camp and on fight night, which is an interesting dynamic. We all know that one to many voices in between rounds can be of substantial detriment – we’ll see.
For me, despite Fury’s absence, this a 50/50 fight. Ok, maybe a 52/48 in Wilder’s favour. Enormous credit must go to Deontay Wilder for taking on Fury in a voluntary defence. Enormous credit must go to Fury for taking this fight, regardless of the reward, in his first competitive fight of his comeback.
It’s got the hallmarks of a classic and the winner must and will pursue a fight with Anthony Joshua. We can only hope the fight gets made.
I expect early drama, I expect Fury’s skill to rise to the surface and I predict that Fury will counter and finish a, by that point, desperate Wilder in rounds 9-12.