Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder 3 has been a long time coming, but on Saturday night the two will finally lock horns for the WBC, Ring magazine and lineal world heavyweight titles and we have expert tips and predictions.
There’s nothing quite like a big fight week in Las Vegas, a place of hopes and broken dreams.
Deontay Wilder (42-1-1) rolls the dice this weekend at T-Mobile Arena with his career at elite level now very much in the last-chance saloon. Standing in his way is the imposing figure of Tyson Fury (30-0-1). All 6 ft 9 in of him.
While some of the biggest names in the sport, such as Floyd Mayweather Jr and now Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez ensure the deck is always stacked in their favour each time they play, WBC and lineal heavyweight champion Fury is different. ‘The Gypsy King’ casually sits down at any table in the world knowing he has the cojones and the ring smarts to be victorious regardless of how the cards are dealt.
It may not quite have the feel of Evander Holyfield v Riddick Bowe, less still Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier, but this weekend’s heavyweight trilogy fight between Fury and Wilder is still a must-see event for boxing fans.
A confusing plethora of ‘world’ titles and a “laissez-faire” attitude to drug cheats are two huge problems facing boxing right now. But perhaps the chief culprit for the noble art’s retreat from the mainstream over the past 30 years is the simple sad fact that public demand is rarely met when it comes to promoters making the best fights boxing can possibly make. This fight is a rare exception to that rule, a quality main event complete with a stacked undercard.
The road to Fury vs Wilder 3
But how did we get here? In December 2018 Fury signed to meet a then unbeaten Wilder in Los Angeles. In one of the more memorable heavyweight title fights of recent times, Fury boxed brilliantly against ‘The Bronze Bomber’, dictating the action for long spells. And but for two knockdowns (one in round 9 and one in round 12) he would have won. Instead, he had to settle for a majority draw on the cards.
If the first fight left us with many unanswered questions, the outcome of the second fight was so conclusive, it is perhaps surprising that Wilder has elected to go again. In February 2020, at the MGM Grand in Vegas, Fury dominated a bewildered ‘Bronze Bomber’, systematically beating him up before the American’s corner mercifully threw in the towel in round seven.
Trainer Mark Breland’s reward for rescuing his charge was the sack, amid frankly scandalous accusations of disloyalty, while Wilder has also talked about his water being spiked with muscle relaxers and claimed that Fury’s gloves had been tampered with.
If talk is cheap, action is priceless. Wilder has since assembled a new team and new trainer Malik Scott reckons his charge can get the job done inside five rounds this weekend. Scott is a long-time friend of Wilder, but it remains to be seen how much he can improve him at the venerable age of 35.
It’s widely accepted that Wilder is one of the hardest heavyweight hitters of all time. If Fury takes his eye off the ball, you cannot rule out a scenario where ‘The Bronze Bomber’ nails him to the canvas with a big right.
However, Wilder doesn’t know how to fight going backward and was all at sea in that last fight against Fury, where he took a sustained and fearful beating. Is he really going to figure out how to fight going backward by hooking up with Scott, a mediocre heavyweight gatekeeper not known for his elusiveness? Unlikely.
There is a school of thought which states Fury simply outboxes the American and just makes sure he doesn’t get hit with a bomb. Fury is long and can box. Stylistically he presents a style which Wilder has found hard to fathom over two fights to this point. The pair have shared just under 19 rounds so far, and of those you can say that Wilder has definitely won only two (those being rounds 9 and 12 of their first fight).
Fury vs Wilder 3 keys to victory
However while Fury is definitely a more skilled boxer, he also knows now he can walk Wilder down and hurt him. He has the size but just as importantly now the confidence to know he can do a job on Wilder. The fight game is as much about psychology as it is physiology. Fury has a steely mental toughness. I’m not sure Wilder is made of the same stuff. As ‘Big John’ Fury – never shy when it comes to making a big fight prediction in a battle involving his son – memorably put it during one of the recent BT Sport preview shows: “He’s going to mentally dissolve like butter in front of a fire”.
Few professionals ever really come back from the type of beating Wilder took in that second fight. He has nothing to lose and therefore has a puncher’s chance, but the pick is for Fury to bully and walk the American down again and force a stoppage inside schedule. Under 7.5 rounds is a shade under even money and looks a play under the circumstances, while 11/4 on Fury winning between rounds 1 – 6 also looks value.
Efe Ajagba vs Frank Sanchez predictions
We also get an intriguing 10-rounder on the undercard between two unbeaten heavyweight prospects. Nigeria’s Efe Ajagba (15-0) squares off against quality Cuban Frank Sanchez (18-0). Ajagba is rough round the edges but can fight. His jab is spiteful and he has a hard right hand. He also has a bit of pedigree after winning bronze at the Commonwealth Games, while also representing Nigeria at the Olympics. He has been perfect so far as a pro but was dropped in the third by Iago Kiladze in December 2019, before rallying to stop his opponent in round five.
Sanchez meanwhile reportedly won 214 of his 220 amateur contests. There have been a few Cuban heavyweights in recent years who have oozed class but who have also been unable to stay disciplined after defecting. The word is ‘The Cuban Flash’ is much more dedicated to his craft than predecessors such as Jorge Luis Gonzalez and Odlanier Solis.
This is a huge opportunity for both men, and Ajagba has a really good straight right. However, I like Sanchez here. He is a very unique heavyweight with great ring IQ. He won’t have it all his own way but has the guile and craft to win on points in Sin City.
As for the main event, this is Fury’s chance to prove he is the boss of bosses in boxing’s marquee division and expect him to grab it with both hands by demolishing Wilder inside the first six rounds.
Predictions and Tips
- Fury to win in rounds 1 – 6 at 11/4 (Paddy Power)
- Fury vs Wilder 3 to last under 7.5 rounds at 19/20 (Betway)
- Frank Sanchez to beat Efe Ajagba by Decision or Technical Decision at 11/5 (William Hill)