Breland Training Wilder For Psychological Warfare Against Fury
By: Sean Crose
“Going pretty good,” Mark Breland tells me of his fighter, Deontay Wilder’s, preparation for a December showdown with Tyson Fury. “Looking sharp.” Breland, a former Gold Medalist and world welterweight champ, is sometimes uneasy when a fighter looks TOO good in the earlier stages of training camp, for it’s unwise to peak too soon. As it stands, however, the man is satisfied with Wilder’s progression.
Both Breland and Wilder are aware of the fact that Fury presents a unique challenge. Not only is the former heavyweight king after Wilder’s WBC heavyweight belt, he’s also, like Wilder, undefeated and awkward. What’s more, Fury is the rare opponent who is actually taller than Wilder is. For Breland, though, the concern right now is “basically that little awkward stuff he (Fury) does” in the ring.
Photo Credit: Mark Breland Twitter Account
Anyone whose seen Fury fight knows that he likes to play an elusive game by engaging in herky-jerky movements. “He tries to throw you off,” Breland says of the Englishman’s style. “He tries to get a rise out of you.” Breland’s aware of the fact that it’s a strategy that has worked for Fury on a large scale. “He’s not as stupid as people say he is,” Breland states.
It’s common knowledge Fury likes to get inside opponent’s heads before a fight even begins. Breland agrees that one of the reason’s Fury stunned then champ Wladimir Klitschko back in 2015 was Fury’s acute use of mind games before the bout. Men like Fury, Breland argues “want to see what they get out of you.”
Breland, who himself was always a cool customer in the ring, is preparing Wilder as much for Fury’s mind games as he is for the exchange of punches. “He’s going to try everything in the book to frustrate you,” he says of Fury. Breland isn’t impressed with those who run wild in this era of smack talk.
“These guys,” he says, “take it too far.” Breland advises that one should let the adversary do what he wants beforehand. “Just don’t hit him,” he says. “When you hit him, it’s a lawsuit.” So far, Wilder has seemed impervious to Fury’s taunts, which perfectly suits his trainer. Breland, however, is preparing his man for any contingency.
“I honestly think,” he says of Wilder, “if he catches him, he’s going” to knock him out. Yet Breland is ready for Fury to try to up the frustration level when he meets Wilder in the Staples’ Center ring on December 1st. “It can be a long, drawn out fight,” Breland states. Not that he’s worried. “Don’t get discouraged,” he points out. “He’s not doing nothing and you don’t have to do nothing.” In other words, don’t take the bait.
“Just keep tapping him with the jab,” Breland says. “Anything with Fury is mental.”
Fury Speaks Of Battles In And Out Of The Ring
By: Sean Crose
I had the hunger to beat Wladimir Klitscko,” Tyson Fury told Joe Rogan on Thursday, “but not to carry on and continue.” Fury, who is training to face WBC champ Deontay Wilder on December 1st at the Staples Center in Las Angeles, was a guest on Rogan’s popular podcast for over a full hour. During the lengthy conversation he discussed beating Klitschko, his battles with mental illness and addiction, and of course Deontay Wilder. Fury was the toast of the fight game after he stunned Kltischko to win the heavyweight title back in 2015. After that, however, the Englishman’s life spiraled out of control.
“I was depressed as depressed can be on a daily basis,” he said. “It just went from bad to worse.” Fans of the fight game are familiar with Fury’s spectacular fall from on high. Within a short time, he went from heavyweight king to former champ. What’s more, Fury’s emotional issues seemed to have clearly gotten the best of him after a certain point. “I hit the drink heavily on a daily basis,” he said. “I hit the drugs. I was out all night partying with women of the night, just coming home.” Things were so bad that Fury wanted out on life. “I just wanted to die, and I was going to have a good time doing it.”
After nearly intentionally killing himself in his vehicle and having a moment of realization, Tyson attempted to turn his life around. “You can only change your life if you want to change it,” he told Rogan. Crediting his faith in God, Fury is now engaged in prepping for what is surely a lucrative (and perhaps career defining) battle with Wilder, a fighter about as colorful as he is. Still quick with a wise crack, Fury joked about the WBC champions’ awkward style. “It reminds me of Bambi on ice,” he quipped. Still, he admitted to admiring Wilder for being willing to take on the big challenges.
“He could have picked much easier opponents and made similar money,” said Fury in his British accent. “I take me hat off to him.” Unlike many in the fight game, Fury was also quick to praise Widler’s team, which of course, includes the enigmatic and often maligned Al Haymon. “They were the most fairest most straight going people I ever worked with,” he said outright. “There was no hard negotiations. It was very, very simple.” Fury didn’t have such kind words for the team of heavyweight kingpin Anthony Joshua. According to Fury, Wilder’s camp offered “Joshuas team 80 million dollars for a 2 fight deal…and they declined that.” Fury then made it clear that his words were more than just gossip. “My lawyer, Robert Davis, he saw proof of funds from Al Haymon,” he told Rogan.
Although he was critical of both Joshua and Wilder, Fury showed on the podcast that he can be self critical, as well – or at least honest regarding himself. “My biggest fight in my whole career,” he said of his battle with Klitchko, “was a twelve round snooze fest. I’m man enough to say that.” Fury also credited Steve Cunningham, who he faced in his American debut, as being his most difficult opponent to date. “I’m not going to make any excuses,” he told Rogan. “Steven Cunningham was a better boxer than me.”
In the end, of course, Fury was able to rise to the occasion and defeat Cunningham. He plans to continue rising to the occasion. “The way to beat mental health is setting goals,” he said, “giving yourself short term and long term goals.”
WBC Threatens to Make Wilder vs. Fury a Non Title Fight
There are reports today that the Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury bout could become a non title fight.
This comes after WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman said that if Fury doesn’t enrol on the WBC Clean Boxing Program by the end of this week he will not be able to win Wilder’s WBC heavyweight world title.
Photo Credit: Tyson Fury Twitter Account
Fury failed a test for steroid nandrolone in 2015, which he then had a back dated ban that ended in 2017.
Fury has promised Sulaiman he will enrol immediately.
“Fury is not enrolled with the WBC Clean Boxing Program and he promised me personally, and even on Twitter, that he was enrolling. If he doesn’t, the fight with Wilder will not be for the WBC title,” Sulaiman told Boxing News.
“I have been in touch with Fury and his trainer (Ben Davison) and they tell me it is just a matter of paperwork. They have the papers, they say. I don’t want to put a deadline on it that it is not reasonable but it has to happen this week. That is plenty of time. If I don’t get those papers, the WBC will not sanction the fight.”
“There will be VADA testing for the fight,” Sulaiman insisted. “there are two types of testing. In-competition and out-of-competition random testing for any fighter who is enrolled. There is contracted fight testing. As yet, I do not know if the promoters of this fight have requested that.”
Sulaiman then noted the cost implications for all fighters to have out of competition testing, and would like the burden to be shared so it’s not just the WBC that have to cough up.
“If we have a fighter in Thailand and a fighter in Nicaragua, when their training camps are so far apart, it’s very costly to do testing,” Sulaiman said. He is happy when promoters help cover these costs. “But we are very happy for those promoters who contract that testing.
“The more drug testing the better. The problem is that there are a lot of legalities involved, failed tests can go to lawyers and cases appealed. Unfortunately, though the WBC have implemented the Clean Boxing Program, there is no one entity in control of drug testing throughout the sport.
“There are so many tests. Some are done by the organisation, some by the promoter, some by the local commission. There is no uniformity. We are working to improve that situation”.
When asked that if a good starting point would be for high profile contests, such as Wilder v Fury, that drug testing should be in place before the contest is announced, Sulaiman replied that, yes, he wished every title fight had out of competition testing, and they won’t discriminate due to the magnitude of the bout.
“We don’t fall into discrimination where one fight is deemed more important than another. Just because a fight is for the strawweight title doesn’t make it less important than a fight for the heavyweight title. A fight for a WBC championship should be the greatest fight,” Sulaiman said. “Yes, I wish every fight had fighters in who had been subject to out-of-competition testing. We’re working towards that.”
Tyson Fury’s Antics Turn Wilder Press Conference into a Circus
By: Sean Crose
First things first – boxing press conferences, especially for big matches – need to be more exciting. They can be tiresome affairs, more like homework than electrifying events. People no one’s heard of speak on behalf of businesses and corporations no one cares about. It can all be tiresome. In truth, the UFC does a far better job than boxing when it comes to bringing the heat to media events. Ultimately, however, the UFC goes too far. Conor McGregor, entertaining though he is, is essentially a high school bully in the body of a thirty year old professional athlete. His press conferences rile up his legions of fans, but they’re like the kind of crap you witnessed in the school cafeteria as a kid. And frankly, that’s not really fun after a point – unless you’ve never matured beyond your teenage self.
Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury had a nice press conference going in England on Monday…until Fury decided to stomp on down the McGregor path and ruin it. Each man was quipping off the other, landing shots, while letting shots roll of his chest. It’s was a fun leadup to a big match between two tough professionals. Unfortunately, Fury had to spoil things by challenging Wilder to punch him. Once again, we were all transported back to high school. Wilder took the bait and the two men had to be broken up before real chaos ensued. It was idiotic and unprofessional.
Frankly, I blame Fury for this – not because I’m a biased American defending my countryman, but because Fury – like McGregor – is a bully who likes to win the fight mentally before it even begins. Wilder, however, appeared to be bully proof on Monday, so the giant Englishman felt he had to up the ante. Fair enough. But fans shouldn’t be happy getting a half baked fight in October when the real one’s going down December 1st.
Some of us have really been looking forward to Wilder-Fury. Both men are vastly underrated and have personalities as big as their frames. It’s pretty clear Anthony Joshua wants no part of either man (or at least Wilder), so it’s exciting to see two of the three best heavyweights in the world getting it on. Boxing is a serious sport, however. People die. People get brain damaged. Theatrics are fine. Idiocy is for high school. Let’s leave it there.
Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury London Press Conference Quotes
The Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury Press Tour got off to a combative start as the two heavyweight giants went face-to-face in London on Monday, exchanging verbal jabs ahead of their December 1 showdown for the WBC Heavyweight World Championship live on SHOWTIME PPV from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.
Amidst the back-and-forth jawing, the 6-foot-7 Wilder and the 6-foot-9 Fury had to be separated when Wilder refused to back down from Fury’s challenge to engage in a sparring session.
Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Showtime
“I want to feel the power,” Fury said to Wilder. “You’re going to feel the Fury, I want to feel the Alabama slammer.”
“I’m going to show you the full power”, Wilder quipped back. “This ain’t no game!” Watch the confrontation HERE
Wilder vs. Fury tests the raw power of Wilder against the unmatched size and mobility of Fury. America’s only heavyweight champion since 2007, Wilder has 39 knockouts in 40 professional fights, including knockouts in all seven of his title defenses. Fury is a former IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight world champion who is undefeated in 27 professional fights and holds boxing’s coveted lineal heavyweight title.
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by BombZquad Enterprises and Queensberry Promotions, in association with DiBella Entertainment and TGB Promotions, go on sale Wednesday, October 3 at 12 p.m. PT. Tickets are priced starting at $75, plus applicable fees, and are available via AXS.com.
In anticipation of the biggest heavyweight event in the U.S. since Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis in 2002, the Wilder vs. Fury International Press Tour continues Tuesday at Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York and concludes Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Below are flash quotes from today’s event at BT Sport Headquarters in London:
“I believe every word that I say. When I say I’m going to knock a man out and tell him where and how he may lay, it comes to pass. I’m all about devastating knockouts, that’s what I do. There’s no pressure on me. You just need to be there to witness it.
“He has two months to get ready. He’s lost a lot of weight but he needs to lose a little bit more. He already knows he’s going to get knocked out. He can hoot and holler, he can build himself up but he needs to take my advice and speak it, believe it, receive it. He’s going to feel pain he’s never felt before.
“Some people don’t even think I should be fighting Fury at this point in time. Whether they want to see another fight or they don’t think he’s ready right now, we can’t live off other’s opinions. When you come to see a Deontay Wilder fight, you’re only coming to see one thing and that’s me knocking somebody out. You all are looking at the 41st person that’s going to be knocked out.
“The antics aren’t going to work against me. I’m not (Wladimir) Klitschko, this is Deontay Wilder.
“I definitely think I’m the No. 1 heavyweight in the world. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t feel I was the best. I’m not worried about any other fighters or what they’re saying or how they are hyping themselves up. I already know I’m the part. All you have to do is tune in. I’m about to put him in the oven and make a muffin.”
“I am no challenger for no man. I am the lineal heavyweight champion of the world. That means I’m the best of the best. The elite champion. This is two champions colliding, this is equal-rights champion vs. champion.
“I’m savoring nothing. The only thing I’m savoring is smashing Deontay Wilder’s teeth in. The press has all turned up today to see the biggest fight of our generation between two undefeated giants, and boy are you going to get a fight. You’re in for a real treat, don’t worry about that. I’m in no mood to dance around the ring. There’s not a 15 stone man on the planet that can beat Tyson Fury.
“I have no concern at all about my lack of fights in recent years. If you can fight, you can fight. I picked this fight. I said to Frank, get me this fight. I could have fought another 10 bums and won them too. Nobody forced me to fight Deontay Wilder, I picked him because I believe he’s an easy touch.”
“I will stand right in front of him and prove what I will do. I will punch his face seven days a week and twice on a Sunday. If we fought 30 times, I’d win 30 times.”
“It’s been a long time since the heavyweight division has had two giants like this. Two champions at the top of their game, at the top of their division willing to fight one another. It’s not rocket science making a fight. Deontay spent a lot of time trying to make a fight with another guy from England who didn’t want to fight. When Fury got himself back into the ring and got himself in the shape he is in now, Shelly (Finkel) and Frank (Warren) were able to make this fight very quickly.
“When two great champions want to make a fight, the fight happens. That’s why December 1 is happening. We’re going to know right then and there who the best heavyweight on the planet is until proven otherwise. The winner of this fight will be the best heavyweight on the planet.
“Fury is an interesting guy who has had to overcome a lot of adversity. I think he should be proud of himself for getting his life in order and being able to turn things around. What he’s done in the last six months has been remarkable. I’m still going to admire him after he gets knocked out on December 1.”
“I have nothing but respect for our challenger, Fury. When I was handling Klitschko, we didn’t think Fury had a chance against him. He proved me wrong. He won’t prove me wrong twice.
“We didn’t pick to fight Tyson because we thought he was easy, we believe he’s the best out there. We want to fight the best, and only the best. We have respect for you because your countryman didn’t want to fight even though he was offered a fortune to fight. When it was presented, he said no. I commend you for stepping right in.”
“These are the two best heavyweights because they’re willing to step in the ring together. That’s what great fighters do. We are going to see something special on December 1. I think it’s going to be a fight that nobody expects. This is not going to be cat and mouse, it’s going to be a war. Tyson has a fighter’s mentality. He’s not trying to duck out through contracts, through a backdoor method. He wanted the fight and Shelly and I worked together to make this happen. You cannot miss it. This will be one of the best heavyweight fights for a long time.
“Fury is traveling to the other guy’s backyard like he did when he went to Germany and took Klitschko to school. He’s going to take Deontay’s belt and this is a fight you cannot afford to miss.”
“This is a fight that has captivated America and will continue to captivate America. We have two mythical figures and that’s what people love about the heavyweight division; they are almost superheroes. In particular, these two individuals are the two largest men in the heavyweight division and I mean that in a physical sense as well as their personalities. On paper, in the ring, on the press tour, it’s a phenomenal matchup.”
First Fury vs. Wilder Press Conference Filled with Theatrics
By: Jake Donovan
With two more stops to go in their three-city press tour in as many days, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury have already dipped deep into the promotional well to hype up their December 1 Showtime Pay-Per-View heavyweight title fight in Los Angeles.
The pair of colossal heavyweights met at BT Sport headquarters in London on Monday, with the session landing on the 43rd anniversary of the historic “Thrilla in Manila,” the unforgettable rubber match between late, legendary Hall of Fame heavyweights Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Showtime
Much of Monday’s session bore resemblance to the theatrics offered by Ali and Frazier in the buildup to their own fights, complete with Wilder and Fury threatening to throw down on stage at the back end of the 30-minute long press conference. The moment was reminiscent—if not a scripted replica—of Ali and Frazier taking off their sport jackets on the set of the Dick Cavett Show prior to their less-heralded second fight in 1974.
Thankfully, it didn’t devolve into the wrestling match that came of Ali and Frazier’s ABC in-studio fight week segment with Howard Cosell. At least not yet.
Civility was never promised nor expected between the two mouths that roar, despite the best efforts of the BT Sport team to restore order. In fact, Fury saw fit to take issue with his being introduced as the challenger to Wilder’s alphabet heavyweight title.
“I am no challenger for no man. I am the lineal champion of the word,” Fury insisted the moment ahead of the first question asked, referring to the World champion status he gained following his Nov. ’15 upset win over exiting lineal king Wladimir Klitschko. “That means I’m the very best. The elite champion. It’s two champions colliding, this is equal rights, champion versus champion. So rephrase your question and let’s start all over.”
That’s all it took to kick things off into high gear, despite the fact that the matchup functionally sells itself.
“It’s been a long time since the heavyweight division has had two champions like this, two champions at the top of their game and willing to fight each other,” noted Lou DiBella, Wilder’s promoter. “This isn’t rocket since. (Shelly Finkel) spent a lot of time trying to make a fight with another fighter from this country (unbeaten, unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua) who didn’t want to fight.
“There was an opportunity – when that man came back and got himself in shape, Shelly and Frank (Warren) got together like that to make this fight happen. The winner of this fight on December 1 will be the best heavyweight in the world.”
In fact, their fight—which has been more than two years in the making—was first announced as official following Fury’s win over Francesco Pianeta on August 18 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Wilder was on hand for the Showtime-televied event, meeting Fury in the ring afterward to reveal their fight which at the time didn’t have a firm date or location.
With those issues worked out, the festivities have already begun. Still, there is official business to be handled once the fight begins on December 1. Naturally, both have predicted a knockout finish—an ending at least one side has experienced nearly every time out.
“I believe every word that I say. When I say I’m going to knock a man out and tell him where and how he may lay, it comes to pass,” insists Wilder (40-0, 39KOs), who—following his 1st round knockout of Bermane Stiverne in their rematch last November—can claim to have knocked out every opponent he has faced as a pro. “I’m all about devastating knockouts, that’s what I do. There’s no pressure on me. You just need to be there to witness it.”
The 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist will attempt the 7th defense of the title he won in a 12-round decision over Stiverne in Jan. ’15. It was the only time the fighting pride of Tuscaloosa, Alabama has been extended the distance in the pro ranks, getting his knockout fix in their aforementioned rematch.
Wilder has since registered arguably the most significant win of his career to date, rallying to knock out previously unbeaten Luis Ortiz this past March in Brooklyn. The bout came four weeks prior to Joshua’s eventual title unification points win over Joseph Parker, with Wilder naturally calling out the winner but only seeing his rivalry with Joshua limited to negotiating through the press and without an actual fight to show for it.
The concern over lining up a suitable Plan B was resolved once Fury and his team decided they were ready for a return to glory.
Fury (27-0, 19KOs) hadn’t fought for more than two years following his points win over Kltischko, having spent much of that time battling drug and alcohol addiction and mental health issues. The 6’9” Irish traveler—who was born and raised in England—returned to the ring this past June, stopping Sefer Seferi in four rounds before returning two months later, apparently carrying Pianeta in their largely forgettable ten round affair in August.
It was enough for Fury and his team to believe it was time to return to the championship level. With Joshua already locked into face Alexander Povetkin—whom he stopped in seven rounds last month—came the decision to pursue the best available heavyweight.
Now that he has Wilder in his crosshairs, Fury has already begun the type of head games that worked on Klitschko both in and out of the ring.
“The only thing I’m interested in is smashing Deontay Wilder’s teeth in. That’s it,” promised Fury, although he seems to be quite dug in regarding the promotional aspect of the event. “We’re here to see the biggest fight between the two best heavyweights of this generation. No 15 stone man on the planet can beat me.
“I will gladly prove what I’ve always know. I will smash his teeth in. Seven days a week, twice on Sunday – if we fought 30 times, I’d win 30 times. You ain’t ready for me. You never have been and never will be. All your knockout power and 10 men in the ring with you can’t beat Tyson Fury. I’m gonna make you f*** yourself.”
The comment came with an apology from BT Sport for the coarse language, but was quickly dismissed by its intended target.
“The antics you’re trying here, it’s not gonna work with me,” Wilder insisted. “I’m not Klitschko, this is Deontay Wilder.”
From there, the theatrics only continued to grow.
“Can we have a little spar now?,” Fury said, coming from behind his assigned seat to challenge Wilder to square off. “Let’s have a little tickle. Come on. Let me feel this power of the Alabama slammer. Come on. Let’s have a little body spar. I wanna feel it.”
Wilder did his best to play up to the moment, if only to remind his opponent where his own train of thought resides two months ahead of fight night.
“This is no game at this point,” Wilder replied. “This is real. As you see, we at the press conference. This is a real fight. We’re announcing this fight is on. So at this point in time, my mindset is on (fight night). You’re gonna feel every power you need to feel.”
Fury would feel a brief sample, although it can be argued that Wilder’s shove to his chest was more to keep the two at bay than for anything to actually pop off in the moment.
“You’re gonna feel everything you need to feel. Let’s do it. Let’s do it. Let’s make it happen. Let’s make it happen. Let’s make it happen. It’s getting real, baby.”
Perhaps not real enough to his challenger.
“My wife pushes harder than that, you little b*tch,” Fury shouted, as the two were immediately separated. “That was nothing. That’s pathetic. I wanna feel the power.
“You never even had the nuts to hit me, did ya? I wanna feel it. I don’t play games, dosser. I wanna play. Come on!”
Regardless of how real or manufactured the animosity is between Wilder and Fury, it’s clear that they are giving the boxing world plenty to talk about.
“It’s the fight that everyone is talking about, the fight that everyone wants to see,” Stephen Espinoza, president of Showtime Sports and Event Programming touted. “It’s a fight that has captivated America and will captivate America.”
All parties involved will have the chance to further validate that statement when everyone touches down in New York for Tuesday’s gathering.
Wilder-Fury Heavyweight Title Bout Set For December 1st At Staples Center
By: Sean Crose
Los Angeles’ Staples Center will host the most intriguing heavyweight matchup this side of Joshua-Klitschko on December 1’st. For it is in that famous arena that undefeated WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder will face a former heavyweight kingpin, the undefeated Tyson Fury. This isn’t just a compelling match because two young, undefeated champions (some still consider Fury, who was stripped of his titles, the true king of the heavyweight division) are meeting to clear up some of the division’s pecking order. It’s a compelling match for a variety of reasons. These are two very good fighters, after all. Both Wilder and Fury are under-rated, but they’ve gotten to where they are through big wins.
Fury’s upset of then champ Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 may have put fans to sleep, but it was a solid and impressive win nonetheless. What’s more, the enormous Fury is awkward and actually rather slick. He’s a gifted ring tactician, plain and simple. Wilder, on the other hand, is equally enigmatic. He carries himself in an odd, some would say less than stellar manner in the ring, but Wilder always, always has come out on top. Against some good competition, too. Anyone who thought the Alabama native wasn’t the real thing got a chance to think otherwise when Wilder bested the skilled Louis Ortiz earlier this year by knockout. Speaking of knockouts, Wilder is an absolute master, unquestionably one of the hardest hitters to ever step foot in a boxing ring. All he has to do is land once. The question is, will Fury allow him that opportunity? That’s what makes this match so intriguing.
It should also be noted that both Wilder and Fury posses enormous personalities. With his shouts of “bomb squad,” Wilder carries with him a loud, peculiarly American charm. Fury, on the other hand, is a bombastic Irish Traveler who isn’t short on charm of his own. They may not have a whole lot in common, but it’s now virtually impossible to say either Wilder or Fury is afraid to take on anyone. While Anthony Joshua may – or may not – be playing it safe in England, Fury is traveling to his opponent’s home country to restake his claim in the heavyweight division. And his opponent has openly been willing to fight in England if he has to. Wilder has even set himself up to fight a Russian in Russia in order to face a solid challenge (that fight, which was supposed to be with Alexander Povetkin, was canceled when Povetkin failed a drug test).
“I can’t wait to fight Tyson Fury in the biggest fight in the heavyweight division and all of boxing,” Wilder claimed in a press release. “I have tremendous respect for Fury for agreeing to leave England and come to the U.S. to challenge me. I’m the WBC champion, he’s the lineal champion, and the winner of this fight will show the world who is ‘The Man’ in the heavyweight division. As much as I respect Fury, I fear no man and fully intend to knock him out like every man that I’ve ever faced in the ring.”
Fury, too, has appeared eager to go. “People talk about me only having two fights since my layoff, but that doesn’t bother me at all,” he claimed. “This is the Tyson Fury show. It always has been. This is my era, and I proved that when I beat Klitschko in his own backyard. Is Wilder the biggest puncher I have faced? You don’t know that until you are on the floor. It is all about not getting hit in this fight. Until someone beats me, I am the king of the heavyweight division. Long live the king.”
And long live intriguing heavyweight battles.
Wilder-Fury Officially Set For December 1st
By: Sean Crose
It may have taken a bit to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, but the heavyweight title bout between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury is finally signed, sealed, and ready to be delivered on December 1st. WBC champ Wilder and former division king Fury have wanted to fight for a while. They even got in a ring together last month and declared their fight was happening. Then came a waiting game, with some eventually beginning to wonder if the heavyweight super showdown would occur at all. By Friday evening, however, the matter had been settled and made public.
“THE CONTRACTS ARE SIGNED & THE FIGHT IS ON!” read a press release. “The promotional tour will kickoff in London on Oct. 1 and continue with stops in New York City and Los Angeles.” Oddly enough, no location was named for the fight. The announcement made clear the bout would be aired on pay per view, but there was no mention of who would be handling the PPV services. Most striking of all, however, was that the news was made public Friday evening, American time, just hours before heavyweight multi-titlist Anthony Joshua was set to defend his crown in London on Saturday against Russian contender Alexander Povetkin. Perhaps PBC, which promotes Wilder, and Frank Warren, who promotes Fury, decided to go the Floyd Mayweather route by making a major announcement before a major fight.
Despite the reason for the timing of the news, word that Wilder, a 40-0 force of destruction with 39 knockouts to his name, would be facing the slick big man Fury, 27-0, added to an already big year for boxing, a year that has seen the sport spread across cable, social media and streaming services at a rapid pace. “This fight is definitely on and I can’t wait, man,” Wilder said on Instagram. “It’s going to be an exciting fight; it’s going to be an explosive fight.”
On top of being undefeated as professionals, both Wilder and Fury have outsized personalities, which make for good publicity, especially in the era of Mayweather and Conor McGregor. They are also both over six and a half feet tall, which makes them giant fighters, as well as giant characters. The winner of this match will surely have to face Joshua in the future (provided Joshua gets past Povetkin) in order to bring clarity to what is now a very interesting heavyweight division.
Wilder Trainer Mark Breland Weighs In On Upcoming Fury Bout
By: Sean Crose
“I don’t think they want the fight,” world welterweight champion turned top trainer Mark Breland told me earlier this summer. “When Joshua fights, he doesn’t talk.” The Joshua Breland was referring to, of course, was heavyweight multi-titlist Anthony Joshua, who holds every major belt in the division except for the WBCs famed green strap. That particular item is in the possession of the man Breland works with, Deontay Wilder, an individual who has been calling Joshua out for ages. That highly anticipated fight still hasn’t been made. What’s more, Joshua, unlike Wilder, “doesn’t talk” much about chomping at the bit to face his championship counterpart, leaving many to think – fairly or not – that the man isn’t interested in facing Wilder at the moment.
When we spoke in June, Breland made it clear he felt Joshua, who has defeated former long reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko in thrilling fashion, is content taking his time on the matter. “Eventually,” he told me, “they’re going to have to fight.” Breland indicated, however, that he doubted “it’s going to happen any time soon.” Breland also pointed out that Joshua was living high at the moment. “He doesn’t need Deontay,” Breland said of team Wilder’s mindset. “Deontay needs him.” How times change. Former heavyweight champ Tyson Fury, who wrested the title away from Klitschko in 2015, has come back to the ring after some hard times and is now set for a heavyweight superfight – against Wilder, not Joshua. No doubt it must seem strange to Joshua that the biggest heavyweight fight right now is between Wilder and Fury, a man who has dismissively referred to Joshua as “the other chump.”
Yet when we spoke on Sunday, Breland himself noted the strangeness of the sudden turn of events. “A little bit,” he said after I asked if he was surprised his fighter would soon be facing Fury in the ring. Wilder-Fury is a huge risk for both men, as a fight with Joshua would probably bring each fighter more money and accolades. As Wilder said over the weekend, though: “This is what we’ve been waiting for…the best fighting the best.” Wilder will have a challenge for himself when he faces Fury (the date and location of the match will be announced this week). Standing at almost six feet, nine inches in height, the Englishman can be incredibly – and surprisingly – slick.
“There’s going to be a slight difference,” Breland said of Wilder’s training camp this time, “because Tyson is tall.” Wilder, he says, will “just have to adjust to someone taller.” Breland, who was a gold medal Olympian, as well as a professional world titlist, still isn’t impressed with how Joshua is handling his career. “I’ve been in boxing for a long time,” he told me. “When you’re a champion…normally you have to face the (top) person whose up next.” Joshua’s next bout will be on September 22nd, when he faces Alexander Povetkin, a top challenger, but not a current or former titlist.
Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder Heavyweight World Championship Announced For Later This Year
WBC Heavyweight World Champion Deontay Wilder and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury announced on Saturday that they have agreed to a heavyweight showdown later this year. The announcement was made in Belfast immediately following’s the undefeated Fury’s shutout decision of Francesco Pianeta. VIDEO: https://s.sho.com/2vVYtlj
Wilder vs. Fury, a 12-round matchup for Wilder’s WBC Heavyweight World Championship, will be produced and distributed by SHOWTIME PPV. A date and venue for the event will be announced shortly.
The 6-foot-7 Wilder is 40-0 with 39 knockouts and American’s only heavyweight champion since 2007. The 6-foot-9 Fury is a former IBF, WBA and WBO Champion who has never been defeated in 27 professional fights.
Frampton and Fury Win in Belfast
By: Oliver McManus
Up in Windsor Park in front of a raucous crowd of 25,000 – all out in support of their hometown hero – Carl Frampton completed a lifelong dream in competing at the home of the Northern Irish football team and, in doing so, stamped his authority all over the featherweight scene thanks to a convincing win over Luke Jackson.
Jackson, 16-0 before the fight, came into the fight with the heavy tag of underdog and despite this was determined to put in a performance to be proud of. Frampton meanwhile was cautious not to overlook the Australian but was steadfast in his belief that there bigger things lay visible on the horizon.
Dusk was settling over the skies of Belfast when the first bell rang and the fight kicked off with Carl Frampton taking to the centre of the ring and lurching out with a pawing left hand to signal his intentions – a swift right hand marked out the early danger, pushing Jackson onto the ropes momentarily within the opening minute.
Jackson, from a crouched stance, leaned in with left hands of his own but offered relatively little in way of genuine threat throughout the, admittedly quiet, opening rounds but the attacking mind set of Frampton was, undoubtedly, enough to notch up the rounds on the scorecards.
A rhythm was found with a consummate ease by The Jackal as he rocked back on forth on his toes, taking his time before offering up some solid body shots, moving with grace, crisp on his feet and displaying the technical ability and footwork that has seen him claim so much glory in the past.
Frampton was able to put Jackson near the red without having to break out of stride or launch any particularly vicious flurries – all he had to do was stay busy, stay present and that seemed to be enough to make life uncomfortable for the Australian challenger.
Big right hands, chipping uppercuts and solid hooks rendered a stiffness in the legs of Jackson and a left hand caught the right hand side of the Aussie – whilst he was off balance – to wobble his man and Jackson was being outworked in all departments, the work rate of Frampton was superior as he moved through the motions and the uppercut of Frampton proved to be a crucial punch throughout the contest before he dropped down to target the body.
Moving into the second third of the contest and much of the same followed with Frampton working the angles against a game, gutsy Luke Jackson who wasn’t looking particularly hurt but, equally, wasn’t really offering much in terms of counter punches.
Jackson, a Commonwealth bronze medallist was trying to attack, trying to find the body of Frampton but he failed to find any regularity with his punches, looking sluggish on his feet and half-hearted with the hands.
A solid sequence of punches in the fifth round signalled the start of the end for Jackson with Frampton starting to tee off, hammering the body of Jackson with alarming consistency and power, uppercuts snapping the head back of his counterpart and, to put it simply, looking a class above the challenger.
Having declared prefight that he wanted to secure a knockout victory there was a definite change in tempo at the halfway mark from Carl Frampton but with that brought a renewed vitality from Jackson who began to throw punches with the full swivel of his body – nothing Frampton couldn’t handle, mind.
With the Australian tiring yet continuing to show heart throughout each round, he began to wander more into range of Frampton who set about making him pay with repeated shots to the body and as the rain came cascading down onto the ring, Frampton’s shots continued to cascade towards his gritty opponent.
Looking in ferocious shape, Frampton started to piece combinations together and sent a beautiful uppercut followed by sickening shot to the livers of Luke Jackson, dropping him towards the end of the eight and with blood in the water, it was time for The Jackal to set finishing the fight off once and for all.
Holding on groggily, Frampton continued to target the body of Jackson with his shots now packing extra venom, extra power, shot after shot towards the big cage of Jackson were causing visible pain and it was only a matter of time before the Australian was pulled out by his corner – so it came, with 1 minute and 21 still left on the clock of the ninth round.
Next stop? Josh Warrington for the IBF Featherweight title of the world.
On the undercard of such a memorable occasion featured Tyson Fury, lineal heavyweight champion, in his second contest since returning from his much-publicised layoff and he was up against, two time world title challenger, Francesco Pianeta.
Underwhelmed sighs greeted the announcement of his opponent but, since then, the near-inevitable showdown with Deontay Wilder towards the backend of this year has seen the spice factor significantly raised and excitement abound.
He had to get the job done first, though, in Belfast and was set about doing his business without the showboating that blighted his encounter with Sefer Seferi and weighing in at 18st 6lbs he looked the real deal and incredibly nimble.
Pianeta came into the first round with an incredible ferocioty and pace to the encounter, showering shots in towards Fury but the Tyson merely swivelled his hips, weaved his head and avoided the punches without blinking an eye.
Looking cool and comfortable the mobile figure of Fury was able to bounce around the ring, establishing a convincing jab with his long levers against an opponent who, actually, came to fight and spring a surprise.
Controlling the pace of the bout with ease it was all about Tyson Fury and with Deontay Wilder in attendance, Fury looked like sending a statement to him and the Belfast crowd.
Firing shots in with a snap of the wrist, Fury looked fast, looked comfortable and, more importantly, looked happy to be in the ring and happy with his performance. Taking it vastly more serious than his contest in Seferi, this was the Tyson Fury of old and he found his range quickly, looping in shots round the guard and exploiting the, perhaps, over-eagerness of Pianeta.
Switching stances from time to time, Fury was free flowing and quick on his feet. Elusive in his movement it was clear to see who the superior fighter was and Tyson always looked like his reflexes were one step faster than Pianeta, making the German-Italian miss by a good few inches whilst staying alert throughout the full duration of each round.
Each round seemed to follow the same sort of theme with Pianeta looking to be brute in his manner of fighting whilst Fury nullified the sting with cultured and classy movement, a cat and mouse sort of game, controlling the contest with complete and utter ease, never looking fazed and, frankly, never looking out of second gear.
Taking each round on the scorecard of Steve Gray to win the contest by 100-90 the fight didn’t produce the explosive knockout that many were expecting but it did provide crucial rounds in the bank for Tyson with his world title challenge confirmed shortly after the fight – this may not have been the exact outcome that we wanted but, certainly, it was a performance that we needed and proved, beyond doubt, that, yeah, Tyson Fury is back.
Deontay Wilder will be next – in November or December – and to use Dillian Whyte’s words, “Wilder, let’s go baby, LET’S GO!!!”.
As always, then, boxing and Belfast just seems to be that magical combination that works each and every time.
Fury Rewriting Rules of Boxing Show Business
When most fighters face off, insults and sometimes pushes and blows are exchanged. When Tyson Fury does it there are smiles, hugs, selfies and best wishes for his opponent.
Friday’s hotel lobby fracas with Deontay Wilder even seemed well-meaning and conducted in good spirits. You got the sense the pair would genuinely enjoy exchanging views during a prospective pre-fight build-up.
By his own admission, the world lineal heavyweight king has always flouted convention (“I’m different…”) but now seems to be doing so driven not by contrarianism but by a simplistic goal: making the world a better place. Torn-up rulebooks are collateral damage.
The act of fighting – by its nature – is destructive. Selling the spectacle of that impending destruction is, historically, primarily reliant on presenting an element of ‘bad blood’ during the build-up. Often, combatants launch tirades of physical threats – sometimes as much to open up new heights of aggression in their own minds as much as to intimidate a rival.
If he ever felt the need to or not, Fury doesn’t need to sell anything now. The cameras will follow him, the journalists will write about him and the whole world will want to watch him box regardless. There is no reason for him to act or speak disingenuously.
At the weigh-in for his comeback fight, Fury picked up his comeback opponent Sefer Seferi as if the Albanian was a damsel in distress. After some playful groping of Pianeta at their opening press conference, there were laughs and handshakes all round.
Fury said: “It’s the Tyson Fury show. People know what they’re going to get when they come to one of these things and they like it.
“If I’m coming back and setting an example, being a role model, then there’s no need for all the animosity between fighters. I believe that nowadays you can put on a good fight without wanting to kill each other.
“I’ll pray for Pianeta. I pray he produces his best performance on the night. I don’t want to hurt Pianeta. I don’t want to do anything bad to him – I just want to beat him on Saturday night.
“I hope he goes home to his family lovely and safe. That’s just the man I am. I don’t wish harm on anybody. I’ve got no enemies and I don’t hate anybody.
“I like to put on a show. I like to do it. It’s entertainment. Yes, I suppose it’s entertainment. It’s great entertainment! I’m very modest, as you can tell…”
It’s nigh-on certain there will always be a place for the pantomime of genuine ill-feeling between fighters at press conferences and weigh-ins. Now Fury is a flag-bearer for an alternative, more light-hearted and humorous approach, though.
Perhaps we’ll see a change if and when he faces a man like Wilder – a fight which would likely take place on away turf against a formidable opponent who speaks English at a similar rate of knots to ‘The Gypsy King’.
For now, however, Fury is almost like a congenial host making his opponents feel welcome and at ease before serving up cold boxing lessons for dessert.
Only a few hundred tickets remain for Saturday’s historic stadium show at Windsor Park – featuring Fury v Pianeta, Carl Frampton v Luke Jackson, Cristofer Rosales v Paddy Barnes and more.
Tyson Fury vs. Francesco Pianeta Final Press Conference Quotes
Lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and former two-time heavyweight title challenger Francesco Pianeta faced off on Tuesday in Belfast during the final press conference for their 10-round heavyweight bout this Saturday from Windsor Park. The second comeback fight of the former unified champion will stream live exclusively to U.S. audiences on the SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook page and SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET/12:30 p.m. PT (please note new start time). SHOWTIME will air an encore presentation later that evening on SHOWTIME EXTREME® (10 p.m. ET/PT).
The former IBF, WBA and WBO champion Fury (26-0, 19 KOs) returned to the ring in June and will fight for the second time in less than 75 days following a nearly three-year layoff. Prior to his extended hiatus, the 6-foot-9 Fury established himself as the premier heavyweight boxer in the world by becoming the first man to defeat Wladimir Klitschko in more than 11 years.
Pianeta (35-4-1, 21 KOs), a 6-foot-5 southpaw who fights out of Germany, has twice challenged for the heavyweight world title. Pianeta faced then-unified champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2013 and lost in a bid for a secondary title against Ruslan Chagaev in 2015.
Here’s what the fighters had to say at Europa Hotel in Belfast on Tuesday:
“The old Tyson Fury is gone. The Tyson Fury from three years ago and beyond is finished. Let’s face it, we all move forward in life with age and experiences and I’m not looking to dwell on the past. I’m looking to live for today and improve on who I am tomorrow. The new Tyson Fury is here now and my promise is to put on a good fight. Whether that’s better or worse than the old Tyson Fury, we’ll find out on Saturday night.
“What you’re likely to see from me on Saturday is a heavyweight Sugar Ray Leonard. Anything less is a failure.
“I do want to win a world title again so I have to raise my game. I’ve been out of the ring for three years nearly. It’s an uphill battle to lose the weight I’ve lost. It’s been challenging and a long, hard battle to get back to where I am.
“I study my heavyweights and I know Francesco has fought some very good men. He had a very good winning spree, he was 28-0 when he fought Klitschko. I’m not underestimating Francesco. I know he’s a very big, strong fellow and he knows if he wins this fight then he can go on to fight (Deontay) Wilder instead of me. It’s all to play for.
“In heavyweight boxing, if you take your eye off the goal for ten seconds you’re out of there. I know what to expect, I expect him to bring his ‘A game’ and he’s going to try to knock me out because that’s what they all do. Hopefully, he’s not successful and we put on a great show and entertain the fans.
“If I come through this, then Wilder has a chance to fight me for the lineal championship. I’m not the one who gets the chance to fight him. Let’s face it, he hasn’t really fought anybody. He has 40 fights and it is what it is. We’re not here to talk about Wilder at all. It may as well be a million years in the future, I’ve got to concentrate on this man in front of me. I’m sure he wants to take my glory away from me.
“I’ve made all the right sacrifices. I trained really well, ate right, slept well and I had four or five sparring partners that were all southpaws. If I do what I think I can do, then I’ll impress, put on a good show and win the fight. If I don’t do what I think I can do, then I’ll get chinned in about ten seconds and it will be, ‘See you later Tyson Fury and hello Francesco Pianeta.’
“Southpaws are a lot more awkward because there’s less of them in the division. You don’t get too much work with southpaws other than when you’re fighting with them. It’s hard to get southpaws to spar in training because there aren’t many heavyweight southpaws around the world. But I do have one interesting fact, every southpaw amateur or professional I’ve ever faced I’ve knocked out. That’s not good for Francesco.
“To be a two-time heavyweight champion is all right. It’s not great because there’s been plenty. To be a three-time heavyweight champion, it’s been done before. So I think I want to set a precedent of being a five-time heavyweight champion without losing a fight. That’s my goal. I always aim for the stars and set big targets.
“If I can beat Francesco Pianeta on Saturday night, I’ve beaten another boxer. Big deal. But if he beats me, he’s going on to something very big. It would be life-changing for him. It I can’t beat Francesco, then I’m going nowhere.
“I think I’m the greatest heavyweight that’s ever been born, so I should handle Francesco Pianeta. And whoever else is out there, Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, all the bums out there.
“It’s very easy to win all the belts back. I’ve only got to beat two bums, basically. Wilder and Joshua and that’s it. They both haven’t got a brain cell between them so it shouldn’t be too hard for a great boxer like myself.”
Ben Davison, Fury’s Trainer
“Everything is good with Tyson. It’s good that he’s getting straight into the ring again. It’s been a good progression since the last fight and everything is perfect. We’re just ready for Saturday night. You can’t do anything more from now.
“He’s lost a good amount of weight since the last fight. To me, there’s only a certain level of fitness that you can get to and Tyson runs on two very good engines anyway. There’s never been any worry with that.”
“I’m going to give my best and I’m looking forward to the fight. It’s an honor for me to box in front of such an audience.
“I have a high opinion on Tyson. I was very impressed with his win over Klitschko, I rate him very highly. He says that he’s knocked out every southpaw he’s ever faced, but we’ll see if he is able to do that Saturday night.”
The Ultimate Showdown of Boxer vs. Brawler: Fury vs. Wilder
By: Dylan Smith
The Battle of the Behemoth
Could this be it? The greatest pugilist Giants waging war to win the ultimate title of Super Heavyweight Champion of the world and could the victor be crowned as the GOAT?
Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder are the longest bodied out of the top ranked heavyweights in the world with a combined wingspan of over 5 meters and each stretching over 6 feet 7 inches tall. Tyson Fury is back in the ring and has proclaimed he wants to take back his titles, which he never lost in the ring and even go on to defend them to match the great Joe Luis’ record of number of defences. So far Fury has done what he set out to do by beating Vladimir Klitscho on his home turf against all the odds so why now, even after his 2 year lay off, should we doubt him? One of the reasons could be the climate of the heavyweight division has drastically changed with rough tough young competitors like Joseph Parker and hard hungry powerhouses like Dillian Whyte who pose massive threats to Tysons unbeaten record and dreams of a glory. The British public and the world however do love a comeback story and an underdog as they are dramatised in classic films such as Rocky. So has he got the minerals? Usually for such a large man you wouldn’t see this kind of movement however Tyson floats around the ring turning, slipping and ducking like a man half his size normally would. His technique is masterful and you can tell he has crafted his skill over a number of years, dedicated his life to boxing. Some say he doesn’t hit hard for a large heavyweight but even if he doesn’t hit like AJ or Wilder he more than makes up for it with precision, speed and timing with 19 ko’s out of 26 contests. Tyson Fury throws every punch in the book from every angle and has an awkward style where he can switch stances, fight long or up close, spoil and counter on the entry and exit from the clinch. He is used to going to the champions turf so will he be the man for the job and can he shock the world again and prove all the doubters wrong in becoming the
WBC heavyweight champion of the world?
Deontay wilder is an absolute knockout artist with a phenomenal record of 39 ko’s out of 40 contests in which he has knocked out every opponent he has ever faced as a professional in the squared circle, as in the rematch against Bermaine Stivern he managed to take him out in literally the last second of the first round. His name appropriately resonates his fighting style as he is famous for throwing wild hooks and hurtful haymakers. He started off more of a brawler and still is, however his skill set has massively improved over the years. He has honed in on his accuracy of shots and has a fantastic snappy jab, he also displays his improved boxing intelligence with the shot selections and combination punches he throws, displayed recently against Luis Ortiz where he annihilated him in the 10th round after being shook himself earlier in the fight. Still with all that skill he still loves to bang out that straight right hand and possesses that one punch knockout power that could shut anyones lights out if it touches them anywhere on the head. Wilder likes to brawl and bash his opponents, break them down and finish in fierce savage style. We can talk attributes: length; power; speed and both fighters tick all of the boxes, also both have unbeaten records. It will then be a case of who can make the other one fight their style. Fury will box and spoil and Wilder will shake him off and look for the overhand right as Tyson enters the clinch. Or will Wilder want to box long and display his pugilist skills and shock everyone like Fury did to Klitschko. The likelihood is however Fury will bob and weave and Wilder will get more and more desperate and keep firing the right hand until it finds a home on Fury’s head.
With the deal being reported by Frank Warren (Tyson Fury’s promoter) as nearly done for December we may see how it plays out. Are we going to be given an early Christmas present? Will we see these 2 colossals collide in the ultimate mammoth match of boxer versus brawler for the most prestigious title in Boxing? I hope so.
The Elite Boxers in the Heavyweight Division
By: Oliver McManus
Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora produced the two best performances of the night on Saturday at the O2 Arena and with that set up the potential for super fights across the heavyweight division, here we take a look at the five ‘elite’ heavyweights in the world and assess their credentials before a subsequent article next week will look at five ‘contenders’ –
Anthony Joshua – WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO Heavyweight Champion of the World
Where else to start but the face of heavyweight boxing? Anthony Joshua is capable of selling out Wembley Stadium with just the mere mention of his name and his record in the sport is simply remarkable – a gold medallist at his home Olympics in 2012, the pressure was always going to be on but, boy, has he handled the pressure supremely.
The 12th of December 2015 saw emotion seep into his fight-mentality for the first time as he let the rivalry between Dillian Whyte and himself get the better of his, previously, cool and calculated game plan with Joshua drawn into a firefight. Arguably that was the best thing that ever happened to him because it brought out a completely different animal within him, the killer instinct was born.
Wladimir Klitschko was legacy defining, there can be no other way of putting it, and whilst that clash highlighted the fact AJ was mortal – hard to believe, I know – you simply cannot knock the Watford-man for taking on and pulling off a feat of monumental proportions that many had previously tried and failed in, in only his 19th professional bout.
Oddly you could say his stock has fallen or, rather, the gap has got closer between himself and his closest competitors over the weekend with Chisora destroying Carlos Takam in a fashion far more convincing than Joshua and Dillian Whyte dropping Joseph Parker – once legitimately, once questionably – on the way to a unanimous decision.
Joshua is a rare breed of fighter in that he is seemingly willing to fight anyone and up against Alexander Povetkin in September he faces, previously, one of the most feared heavyweights in the world and, certainly, a huge puncher but someone that should be a relatively easy fight over Joshua’s last few tests.
2019, then, is the year for Anthony Joshua to continue in his pursuit of ever-lasting greatness.
Deontay Wilder – WBC Heavyweight Champion of the World
The ‘Punch’ to Anthony Joshua’s ‘Judy’ – a reference which anyone outside of the UK will need to Google – Deontay Wilder has a rather reasonable claim to being the hardest puncher in the current heavyweight division and is famed for his “windmill” shots which, when unloaded, signal a trademark finish to the fight.
Questions have, rightfully, been raised at the quality of Wilder’s recent opponents with the likes of Chris Arreola, Bermane Stiverne (the second time) and Artur Szpilka not exactly screaming “world class” but, having said that, Wilder has consistently dispatched the people put in front of him in a fashion you’d expect from the WBC Champion of the World.
Against ‘King Kong’ Luis Ortiz in March this year, the American was in the toughest fight of his career and took the best that Ortiz threw at him. Whilst the fight was a strong 50-50 prior to the stoppage that the Bronze Bomber managed to pull out of the bag, the contest showed that Wilder was capable of taking a shot to land a shot and that is the phrase that best defines his style.
Even when in with the best, genuine elite level fighters, he sticks to what he does well and that, very simply, is PUNCH. Now some may argue that shows a weakness in ability to adapt to the styles of challengers and whilst that is something that could be his downfall in the future, it’s worked with tremendous success thus far.
Not necessarily a household name in the United States – indeed you could say he’s more well-known on this side of the pond than in his own backyard – you can understand the strategy from those around him of building him up with all-American match-ups (Dominic Brezeale is rumoured to be the next defence) which enable him to gain profile and keep the belt with, relatively, easy fights.
BUT then comes the question of why on earth should a world champion need to have his profile built up? The fight with Anthony Joshua is a fight that NEEDS to happen in order for Deontay Wilder to be able to put to bed questions regarding the legitimacy of his reign and, for many, we’ve still yet to see the WBC champ fully tested.
Dillian Whyte – WBC Number 1 ranked heavyweight contender
Whyte proved his doubters wrong on Saturday with a scintillating win over Joseph Parker, make no mistake, he was sincerely rocked and challenged by the former WBO Champion, dropped to the canvas at one point, but what was most impressive about taking the barrage of punches was that he proved his chin has developed far more than anything else since he faced Anthony Joshua in 2015 –we always knew he had the agility, the power, the energy, that was never in question.
It’s hard to believe that it’s 18 months since Whyte went to war with Dereck Chisora, winning a split decision, but that bout seems to be symbolic of the way he goes about every fight – with an attitude of “guts and glory”, leaving everything on the line, and that’s something you cannot criticise because it produces excitement galore.
Up against Robert Helenius, Whyte really failed to click into gear when in the ring with the Nordic Nightmare and whilst the fight wasn’t aesthetically pleasing it was a valuable lesson for the Brixton Bomber because it showed him that, sometimes, you can’t go all-out for a knockout and have to box around the opposition, out-working them and simply fatiguing them into defeat.
With Deontay Wilder having been offered a princely sum – a career high pay day – to face Whyte (in the United Kingdom) and turning it down, there can be no doubt as to the stature of Eddie Hearn’s fighter and the attributes he possess all point to him being a world-champion in waiting.
Mild controversy erupted when he, and his team, turned down fights with Luis Ortiz and Kubrat Pulev in world title eliminators with many saying he was ducking the respective fighters but the fight with Joseph Parker seems to have answered all the questions being lobbied at him because whilst Parker isn’t as explosive as Ortiz he is faster, he is more sprightly and he’s every bit as technical as Pulev so, in a way, he got the best of both worlds.
I wouldn’t have said it three years ago but Dillian Whyte has proved me, and many critics wrong, and I’m happy to hold my hands up with regards to that because it was never anything personal but, for me, Dillian Whyte is the best heavyweight outside of the world title holders.
AJ in April? Sounds like a plan.
Kubrat Pulev – IBF Number 2 ranked heavyweight contender
Pulev is an interesting character, vastly underrated by fans and extensively avoided by fellow fighters, his technical style of boxing is one that hasn’t exactly played into his hands because with him not being a HUGE puncher, his technical and defensive aspect are exponentially enhanced and it makes him one heck of a challenge for anyone brave enough to take him on.
Dillian Whyte opted not to travel to Bulgaria to face Pulev and Jarrell Miller is another to have avoided stepping into unknown territory for the fight – which the IBF sanctioned, in both cases, as a final eliminator – and it’s not the location that is the sticking point but rather the risk-reward factor which strayed significantly into the risk region.
As I’ve said, Pulev relies on the technical fundamentals not to blast his opponents out of the ring but rather to get the better of them in the longer run, over the scheduled distance, with calculated punch output, shot selection, and beautifully timed footwork culminating in style of fighting bordering on art but so under-appreciated.
Another fighter to have taken on Dereck Chisora, emerge from the fight win the win and be levied with headlines of “Chisora fails to perform” as opposed to “Pulev outclasses Chisora”, Pulev hasn’t been one to avoid fights for the duration of his career and as a former European champion the Bulgarian has produced convincing wins on the big stage for a long, long time with the likes of Alexander Dimitrenko, Alexander Ustinov and Tony Thompson all falling foul of The Cobra’s leathal bite.
A former world title challenger Pulev has the experience of that level and whilst he’s not looked as sharp as his previous years, since his loss to Klitschko (in 2014) he has looked mentally more prepared whenever he steps in the ring – albeit against lesser opposition – and many were expecting him to provide Anthony Joshua with a stern test when they were scheduled to face-off and with Pulev back in the world title scene, there could still be life in the ageing cobra yet.
Tyson Fury – Lineal heavyweight champion of the world
This isn’t wrote in any order so before anyone gets in a huff as to my positioning of Fury in this list – or indeed my inclusion of him at all – let me explain why the lineal champion is in this “elite” overview;
Whatever you think of his last opponent – Sefer Seferi – Tyson Fury was the man who beat the man and, in doing so, made Klitschko look average and that is an achievement that simply cannot be overstated, it was beyond unexpected and Fury produced the goods.
Further to that his mental strength is, for me, the best of anyone in the division. He has had several well documented struggles and, let’s be clear, earned more than enough money for him to afford to retire and live comfortably for the rest of his life. So there was no need for Fury to comeback, he had proved his doubters wrong, but it was his inner motivation to prove that he was better than Joshua, better than Wilder, better than everyone that pushed him to return and lose 8stone in the process. That’s super-human.
Fury himself is unconventional in fighting style with the ability to switch stances with ease combined with his freakish height and surprisingly lucid movement marking him out as one of the most unpredictable men in the ring – one second he’ll be staring out into the crowd and the next launching a furious flurry into the body of his opponent.
And that is what marks him out from the other guys on this list because whilst they are all exceptional fighters in their own right, they are distinctly predictable – you know what you’re getting with each of them – but with Fury you get the impression that not even he knows. He’s no stranger to being an underdog, either, and dealing with the pressure of fighting in the away corner so his ability to handle those situations are incredible.
Fighting Francesco Pianeta on August 18th, Fury is targeting two further fights by the end of 2018 before mounting a serious challenge to the belts he used to own and with discussions already being held about the potential for a fight with Deontay Wilder, you’d be inclined to suggest it’s only a matter of time before he’s back where he belongs.
AND THERE WE HAVE IT, a look at the heavyweight elite boxers and of course the use of the term elite is entirely subjective, it’s merely my top 5 and there are plenty of guys that could have warranted being featured but, hey, nobody said it was easy!