A Bomber and A King – The Definitive Breakdown of Deontay Wilder V. Tyson Fury
By Alex Leffew: A moment that few skeptical fight fans thought would come to fruition is approaching. A heavyweight contest worth its merit in hype as well as implications on the sport. Two of the division’s most prominent figures have circumvented the usual protracted negotiating processes plaguing the sport for decades. They have also circumvented the other champion, and burgeoning superstar Anthony Joshua. But we aren’t here to lament Anthony Joshua, or possible upcoming matches. We’re here to dissect a December 1st matchup between two conspicuous big men. Two big men who carry themselves with aplomb, and downright modern-day swagger.
Tyson “Gypsy King” Fury has a name and reputation that long precedes him in the fight game. The 6’9” ~260lb Fury has proven himself both King, by beating long unbeaten Wladimir Klitschko, and Gypsy, then taking a post-fight 2 ½ year hiatus from the sport. A hiatus presumably to indulge in everything that earns him the Tyson and Fury monikers. He often self-proclaims to be a fighting man from a “long line of fighting men”. When he says this, Fury is not speaking out of turn. Not only did his father John Fury name him after Mike Tyson, the patriarch also fought in the heavyweight division as “Gypsy” John (8-4-1). Fury claims lineage with that of Bartley Gorman, who was a bare-knuckle fighting traveler and known to be titled “King of The Gypsies”. He is cousins with former WBO champ Andy Lee, fellow heavyweight Hughie Fury, Young Fury, as well as others.
Fury has a natural charisma and coordination that is neither learned nor taught. No men of his size switch stances as often or with the ease in which he does. He throws awkward jabs from various angles and is in constant motion from bell to bell. He is no stranger to using his often massive girth to smother and wear down his opponents when deciding to clinch. His chin has been tested. Unfortunately, against a very game and tough former cruiserweight by the name of Steve Cunningham. In the 2nd round of their fight, Cunningham fired a massive overhand right hay-maker that caught Fury square. Fury showed his heart in Madison Square Garden that night, rising off the canvas to bully and punish Cunningham with a graphic knockout in round 7.
Fury’s mouth is probably his most effective weapon in terms of generating a buzz and momentum for his career. He berates every opponent he faces. He once referred to David Haye as a “classless prima donna”. He told the aforementioned Steve Cunningham to get the bottom of his boots sponsored in preparation for the impending knockout. Wladimir Klitschko wasn’t safe either. When Fury showed to their press conference dressed as Batman he crashed into the table holding Klitschko’s belts, scattering them on the floor. Even Anthony Joshua has been a target, being referred to as a “weightlifting coward”. Fury’s terminology for Deontay Wilder has been a relatively tame “dosser”, a British colloquialism for bum, or derelict.
What Fury doesn’t do well is stay in shape between fights. He has tipped the scale as much as 275 and as little as 245 lbs for weigh-in. He admitted being near 400 lbs during his 24+ month layoff. This sort of yo-yo weight gain does not lend itself to a lengthy reign in any elite sport. The manner in which he gains and loses weight is also cause for alarm. He has tested positive for both cocaine and nandrolone, as well as claiming that his 135 lb weight loss has come within the last year. In 2018, his two “comeback” fights were little more than cheeky exhibitions against opponents paid well enough to stand in the ring. Notwithstanding, this doesn’t take away the massive undertaking he’s engaged in losing the weight and getting back in the HW mix.
Fury’s power has also been questioned. Whether or not that question has any merit is very much up for debate. 27 fights with 19 knockouts doesn’t hold up well when under the microscope of elite heavyweight power. He dispatched Joey Abell, a journeyman bulldog who was KO’d five times previously. Christian Hammer was another reasonably well-known journeyman who fell victim to Fury in round 8. Maybe the only truly impressive Fury stoppage was against Dereck Chisora who opted to acquiesce. In any event, for a man of Fury’s size, his power may be underwhelming to many observers, casual or not.
Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder is the WBC champion and is absent the question marks around his personal life that surround Tyson Fury. The 6’7” ~220 lb Wilder is consistently well conditioned. So much so that he is often derided for having skinny legs, or for looking more like a basketball player than boxer. Wilder does not hail from a traditional boxing background and this fact hasn’t slowed him at all.
He is building his families’ lineage in the present, from the ground up. His younger brother Marsellos Wilder is now 2-0 at cruiserweight. Deontay keeps a close-knit team around him and has grown his name and brand without the familial bloodline and backing of his gypsy counterpart. Maybe what binds Wilder and Fury is being the outsider. Alabama has seldom if ever been a bastion of acceptance or progress, especially for a large, affable, athletic, black man. Likewise for Fury, Gypsy Travelers are a homeless nomadic race who seldom gain acceptance or respect in UK society. In any case, the differences between style and skill are polarizing.
The antipathy of these two fighters’ story doesn’t stop at which ancestry brings them to the ring. Where Fury is renowned for his work hard, play harder, mentality, Wilder is not. Wilder has seemingly avoided the pitfalls of fame and fortune. He often mentions his children (namely his first daughter Naeiya, born with spina bifida) as the reason he fights. His trash talk is done mostly as a rebuttal (including threats to “baptize” Fury in the ring) and many may contend this propensity has hindered his ability to self-promote. Intriguingly enough, the differences between these men extends beyond personality traits.
In the ring there is no question about Wilder’s power or heart. His right-hand reigns supreme. 40 fights 39 KO’s leaves little doubt. It’s not a fair-weather heart, or waning power either. Luis Ortiz found this out in the latter stages of their fight by way of an uppercut. Wilder has a spearing jab with which he sets his dynamite charge. Former heavyweight champion Chris Byrd has referred to Wilder as one of the “scariest heavyweights ever”. However, overwhelming power can often shield underwhelming secondary skill sets.
Wilder has learned on the job. He was stretched by a stout and stubborn Johann Duhaupas to 10 rounds. Deontay dominated, winning without doubt but his left eye revealed what many in boxing knew already: Deontay is long and often unbalanced. His late-to-school boxing career also sees him cuffing right hand shots. A habit that has potentially led to a torn biceps and chronically broken/fractured right hand. An injury known to many doctors and heavy bag enthusiasts as boxer’s fracture. Deontay has had multiple surgeries on this dynamite right hand including orthopedic titanium stabilizing rods.
So where’s the damn conclusion? If you are betting? Good luck. Wilder has remained active, positive in mind, and stable. Power, its often said, is the great equalizer. For every sin of fundamentals Wilder makes he can end the evening with a single blow. The question and answer is not in Wilder’s power or skill. The question is whether or not Fury is still capable of competing or at least competently performing at the highest level. In an interview with the Breakfast Club he likened himself to Sugar Ray Leonard (who famously took a multi-year layoff to come back victorious). Is this the famous Fury bluster? Will he retain the top form worthy of “Gypsy King”? Or will the looming power of the Bomber unseat him? Find out. December 1st.