Most associate trilogies as the third chapter serving as the finale. In Boxing however, most trilogies arrive at chapter 3 with a simple process. This process usually consists of two fighters splitting two heated fights, which leads to the culmination of the rivalry between the two in what is thought to be the final battle, the third fight.
The rivalry between undefeated two-time Heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury and former WBC Heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder has not been one that most would call a “Normal” trilogy. For it was in their first fight in December 2018 that Wilder, the then unbeaten WBC world champion overcame a deficit on the scorecards by scoring two knockdowns of Fury including a near fight ending knockdown in the twelfth and final round to earn a draw to retain his crown. A decision that even with two knockdowns in his favor, some felt should have gone to Fury.
While there was over a year between fights one and two, in which both men were able to maintain their unbeaten records, the result of a draw did not quell the issue and fueled demand for the rematch. A rematch that would take place in February of last year with Wilder's WBC crown again on the line.
This time there was an emphatic outcome. Fury opted to change his approach from his normal elusive style and became more aggressive. In simple terms, he brought the fight to Wilder, which was something that frankly I, or many others did not expect. It was this approach that changed the dynamic of the combat compared to the first fight as it forced Wilder, a fighter known for being a “Knockout Artist,” who can end a fight at any given moment into a position where for the first time in his career, he was the one being pressured and pushed back. This noticeable change made the tempo significantly different compared to the first fight where Fury was able to win rounds with his elusiveness before Wilder was able to make up ground with the two knockdowns that saved his world championship.
The second encounter was different in that it would be Wilder who would find himself on the canvas for the first time in his career. What stood out to me following the first knockdown Wilder suffered in round three as a result of a right hand to the head from Fury, was that he had trouble with his equilibrium from this point of the fight on and even though he was able to get up from that knockdown, the combat became increasingly one-sided and he was not able to turn the tempo in his favor. Those who saw the coverage of that second fight saw me speculate that Wilder’s equilibrium issues may have been caused by a ruptured eardrum, which Wilder was bleeding from the left ear. Whatever the case might be, Wilder’s offensive output continued to gradually decrease and it was in round five that he would suffer the second knockdown of the bout.
While I was very vocal in my coverage of the rematch in saying that I felt the fight should have been stopped after round three due to the obvious equilibrium problems Wilder was having in addition to bleeding in his ear and in his mouth, something which I stand by, the fight would go on until round seven when Wilder’s then co-trainer former two-time Welterweight world champion Mark Breland threw the towel in to save his fighter from further punishment.
Although I could spend hours talking about the several excuses and accusations that were made by Wilder, towards Fury, Breland, and even saying that his wardrobe in which he entered the ring were responsible for his performance and subsequent loss, out of respect for the reader, I will move on by simply stating that accusations of Fury potentially cheating from Wilder and those armchair online critics were unfounded. The rift between the former world champion and Breland however, resulted in Breland being fired as co-trainer and former Heavyweight contender and previous Wilder opponent Malik Scott stepping into the trainer’s role.
Readers may also recall that this third fight, which will take place on Saturday, October 9th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV and can be seen here in the United States on both ESPN+ Pay-Per-View and Fox Sports Pay-Per-View as well as through cable/satellite providers, was not initially going to take place in 2020. It was not long ago that there was a deal in place for Fury to defend his WBC crown against then unified IBF/WBA/WBO/IBO Heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua in what would have been a bout to determine the Undisputed Heavyweight championship of the world. As there always seems to be in Boxing however, nothing is quite as it seems as Wilder, was contractually obligated an immediate rematch and despite the announcement that Fury and Joshua were to meet at some point this year, that would not be what would happen as Wilder’s legal fight to enforce his rematch clause was granted via arbitration and thus the third Fury-Wilder bout becomes the first bout in Boxing history as far as this observer has been able to research that comes literally by court order
The bout was originally scheduled for July, however, further complicating things was Fury testing positive for the COVID-19 virus, which has resulted in the bout taking place on October 9th. As for Anthony Joshua, his side of the Heavyweight world championship equation was thrown a curveball when he lost his unified crown to Oleksandr Usyk on September 25th in London, England via twelve round unanimous decision. So, what was thought to be a year where one World Heavyweight champion would emerge, 2021, will instead be known as the year where everything goes back to square one.
Now, how will Wilder-Fury III play out? Well, it is important to keep in mind that even though it can be a cliché that anything can happen when two fighters get into a ring and this especially holds true in regard to Heavyweights. The focus going into this fight, despite Tyson Fury’s recent bout with COVID-19 will be on Wilder. Can Wilder make any adjustments from his approach in the second fight, in which he was clearly unprepared for what Fury brought to the ring that night. What psychological effects if any did the first loss of his career, a knockout loss, in which he suffered significant punishment throughout have had on him?
By the same token, what effects did Tyson Fury suffer from his bout with COVID-19. While there is still a lot of unknowns regarding the virus and the world is still very much in the midst of a global epidemic as a result, some fighters who have come down with the virus have shown no ill effects after recovering from it, others meanwhile have shown what might be lingering effects that have compromised their performance in their returns to the ring. It goes without saying that each case is different and just because a virus might affect an athlete one way does not necessarily mean that it will affect another in the same way.
In this case, we are talking about two very big men in terms of physical stature as both stand 6’9 and 6’7 respectively and both fight well over the 200lbs. In fact, in the second fight, Fury came in at 273lbs. compared to Wilder’s 237lbs. While it is frankly hard to envision Wilder becoming a more technical fighter in just one year between fights where he has not been active, the most logical scenario would be for him to try and bring the fight to Fury early. This would not only be a way to test if Fury has indeed recovered from COVID-19, but more specifically, he must get the champion’s respect from the outset if this fight is to go any differently from the second encounter.
If Fury does not have any lingering effects from his bout with COVID-19 and intends to approach this fight similar to how he did the second fight, it will be interesting to see if he will try to end the fight quicker this time around and whether or not Wilder will be ready for such an approach this time. At his best, Tyson Fury is an elusive boxer who uses awkwardness to get the upper hand on his opponents and can outwork them over the course of a fight. While I have no doubts that Fury still remembers how to win fights with that approach, the second fight with Wilder showed that when he wants to, he can score knockouts and do so in devastating fashion. Whether or not that knockout win or the issues outside the Boxing ring and in the legal ring that has led to this third fight will influence his approach is something that remains to be seen.
Will this third encounter be the final chapter in this rivalry? Obviously, this observer cannot answer that question, but with the rivalry being 1-0-1 in Fury’s favor going into this fight, if Wilder were to his crown no matter in the way it might happen, it would obviously open the door for a possible fourth fight between the two if not more. It was after all not long ago that future Hall of Famers Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez engaged in four brutal battles and even though Marquez only won one of those fights after earning a draw in the first encounter and losing two disputed decisions in fights two and three, many would say he got the last laugh by scoring a brutal knockout of Pacquiao in their fourth and final battle. Although this observer honestly felt for a lengthy period of time that there would be a fifth bout between the two, that was not meant to be as both men are now retired. The rivalry between Pacquiao and Marquez however, shows that some rivalries in Boxing do not end in three fights regardless of the outcomes. While it may be unlikely that we will eventually see Fury and Wilder engage in six battles inside the ring as was the case with Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta, I personally don’t see this rivalry ending in three fights. Obviously, the outcome of chapter 3 might go a long way in determining whether the story of Tyson Fury versus Deontay Wilder will continue beyond the third fight, but I would not be surprised. We will see how Chapter 3 is written on Saturday, October 9th.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Fury vs. Wilder III takes place on Saturday, October 9th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The fight as well as three bout can be seen in the United States on ESPN+ Pay-Per-View as well as on Fox Sports Pay-Per-View and through cable/satellite providers beginning at 9PMET/6PM PT for $79.99. There will also be a portion of preliminary bouts that will air on ESPN+ and the national Fox Sports 1 cable network beginning at 7PM ET/4PM PT. To order on ESPN+ please visit: https://plus.espn.com/fury-wilder-3?ex_cid=ESPN-espnplus-vanityurl-how_to_buy_video_ppv-US-EN&cid=ESPN-espnplus-vanityurl-how_to_buy_video_ppv-US-EN To order on Fox Sports please visit: www.FoxSports.com/PPV. The event will be available through both the ESPN and Fox Sports apps available on mobile, tablet, connected streaming devices, and Smart TVs. To order via cable/satellite contact your cable/satellite provider for ordering information,
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the card can be seen on BT Sport Box Office for £24.95. For ordering information and start time in your area please visit: https://www.bt.com/sport/box-office/
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