Saturday the 22nd of February 2020 will see what many are calling the biggest heavyweight fight in almost 20 years coming to fruition as the UK’s Tyson Fury once again challenges America’s Deontay Wilder for his WBC belt. After their first contest in late 2018, the rematch promises to provide another sensational fight which will entertain both the hardcore boxing fans and casual observers. The following article will preview the upcoming fight and provide the essential facts needed to enjoy this mammoth event.
As stated above the much talked about rematch will take place on the 22nd of February (or early morning on the 23rd in the UK) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The contest will see the WBC, Ring Magazine and lineal heavyweight titles up for grabs. Deontay Wilder will be defending his WBC crown he won back in 2015, while Fury is putting his status as lineal heavyweight champion on the line. In January it was announced the two fighters would also be competing for the vacant Ring Magazine belt which is highly regarded in the world of boxing and was previously held by Fury before he was stripped of it due to inactivity.
The fight is gearing up to be a major event with many in the boxing world saying it is the biggest heavyweight contest since the Lennox Lewis v Evander Holyfield fights in 1999 or when Lewis took on Mike Tyson in 2003. In the US the rematch is being co-promoted by rival promotion companies Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), who promote Wilder, and Top Rank which represents Fury. These two giants of the sport rarely work together and have only collaborated in the past to put on super fights like the aforementioned Lewis v Tyson fights and 2015’s ‘fight of the century’ between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquaio, which speaks to the magnitude of the upcoming rematch.
Furthermore, the fight has received an almost unprecedented level of publicity due it’s being advertised across major US TV channels like Fox and ESPN. This promotion even resulted in the fight being given two ads during the Super Bowl which were estimated to cost around $10 million in total. Meanwhile, in the UK the fight is also receiving plenty of publicity thanks to the work of BT Sport and Frank Warren’s Queensbury promotions.
Who is Tyson Fury?
The 31-year-old lanky Englishman is known for his awkward style which has presented a problem to many top heavyweights over the years. From an Irish traveller background, boxing is in Fury’s blood as he comes from a family of fighters and was actually named after the great Mike Tyson himself.
The Manchester-born Fury turned professional in 2008 after a solid amateur career and quickly began his rise to prominence within the boxing world. Throughout his rise through the professional ranks Fury picked up the British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight titles and defeated well-respected opponents including Kevin Johnson and Dereck Chisora.
The height of Fury’s career came in November 2015 when he travelled to Düsseldorf, Germany and defeated the legendary Wladimir Klitschko for three of the major heavyweight title belts. However, this impressive achievement quickly faded into the background as Fury’s life spiralled out of control due to mental health issues, doping accusations and substance abuse.
The issues mentioned above led to Fury being stripped of his titles and taking an almost three-year break from the ring before mounting an epic comeback. With the help of now former-trainer Ben Davidson, Fury was able to shed over 130lbs in weight and overcome his mental health problems.
Who is Deontay Wilder?
A native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Wilder’s upbringing in the sport of boxing has been quite the contrast to Fury’s. Now 34 years-old, the American only took up the sport at age 20 as he was looking for a way to provide for his family.
Wilder took to the sport extremely quickly and within three years found himself representing team USA and competing in the heavyweight division at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He did exceedingly well in Beijing and came away with a Bronze medal.
Wilder turned professional soon after the Olympics and began rising up the ranks, reaching a record of 32-0 and being presented the opportunity to challenge Bermane Stiverne for the WBC heavyweight title in January 2015. Wilder dispatched of Stiverne convincingly by unanimous decision and became the first American heavyweight world champion since Hasim Rahman.
Wilder continued to impress after becoming champion, defeating the likes of Artur Szpilka, Eric Molina and knocking out Stiverne in the first round of their rematch. Finally, leading up to the first Fury fight, Wilder scored yet another impressive victory over the respected Cuban Luis Ortiz.
What Happened in Their First Fight?
Wilder and Fury first met in December 2018 at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, California in what turned out to be an unforgettable fight which added new life into the heavyweight division.
Fury came into first fight far from firing on all cylinders after his comeback involving a huge weight loss and two warm-up fights with much lesser opponents. Meanwhile, Wilder, fresh off defeating Luis Ortiz, was looking to add the scalp of another top fighter to his sometimes-critiqued resume.
Coming into the fight many wondered how much of Fury’s boxing prowess remained after his lengthy layoff, however, he showed he had held on to his skillful awkward style and managed to dance around Wilder to put on a solid boxing display. Fury was widely believed to be in control of the fight and ahead on the scorecards before Wilder’s powerful right hand came into play, dropping Fury in the ninth round. Fury came back well from this initial knockdown before in the early in the 12th round he was put down again from a tremendous right-left combination by the American. This time the fight looked to be over, with Fury out cold on his back. However, five seconds into the referee’s count the towering Briton almost rose from the dead, getting up off the canvas to beat the count and somehow surviving the remaining two minutes of the fight.
Despite these two knockdowns, many observers believed overall Fury out-boxed Wilder and had done enough to dethrone the champion. However, this was not reciprocated in the eyes of the judges whose verdict ruled the contest a split-decision draw.
As expected, both Wilder and Fury felt they won the fight and the decision provoked outcry and disbelief from their camps. However, the fighters themselves handled it well by accepting the decision and showing respect to one another while also both saying they would love a rematch.
Since their first contest both Wilder and Fury have had two subsequent fights. Wilder easily dispatched of fellow American Dominic Breazeale with a highlight-reel knockout in early 2019, before winning a rematch against Luis Ortiz in November with another vicious KO. Meanwhile, Fury stopped the German Tom Schwarz inside two rounds back in June and was then given an unexpected surprise when faced the Swede Otto Wallin in September. In what was anticipated to be a straightforward affair, Fury received a nasty cut above his right eye which inhibited his ability to perform and he was forced to grind out a tough but decisive unanimous decision victory against the young Scandinavian. In the months since this grueling match, Fury has taken the decision to part ways with his friend/trainer Ben Davidson and join up with American Javan “SugarHill” Steward of the Kronk Gym and former middleweight world champion Andy Lee.
Who is the Favourite?
February’s rematch is considered an almost 50-50 fight with both pundits and fans struggling to predict a clear winner. The general consensus is that Fury will outbox Wilder to win on points or Wilder will come out the victor by knocking out Fury with his fearsome right hand. However, Fury himself disagrees with this, claiming at a recent press conference that Wilder would be “going to sleep in two rounds.”
The bookmakers are also finding the fight hard to call with Fury being touted as slight favourite with odds of 10/11, while Wilder is an ever so slight underdog at odds of 11/10.
Unfortunately, much of the focus of this card is on the main event and the undercard fails to offer a particularly appealing prospect for spectators.
Of the three fights on the undercard, the heavyweight clash between former heavyweight world champion Charles Martin and Gerald Washington which will take place right before the main event looks to be the best contest. Martin is best known for losing his title in 2016 to the now superstar Anthony Joshua.
What Time is the Fight on and Where to Watch it?
With the fight being in Las Vegas it will be on early Sunday morning in the UK. Wilder and Fury are expected to walk to the ring around 8pm local time or 4am GMT, however this may change slightly depending on how the undercard plays out.
For those who want to watch the fight at home the bout will be on pay-per-view and can be purchased through BT Sport Box Office for a price of £24.95 in the UK or for US viewers it is available on ESPN+/Fox for around $79.99.
Despite the late start time in the UK and somewhat steep pay-per-view price, fights like this do not come around often are not to be missed they churn up dramatic moments and provide occasions that go down in sporting history.