LAS VEGAS — When Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury fought in December 2018, fans were served a treat. But it was not quite the full meal they wanted, as the anticlimactic outcome of a split draw gave all who tuned in a sour taste.
That will change Saturday night in Las Vegas when the two clash in a second act with the WBC, Ring and lineal heavyweight titles on the line. Simply put, this is the biggest heavyweight fight in over a decade and a rematch of one of the most controversial.
The buzz this bout is generating will do nothing but grow until the bell sounds at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Wilder (42-0-1) and Fury (29-0-1) serve as complete foils to each other. One is an undefeated American champion with destructive knockout power who is just now truly finding his form. The other is an undefeated British technician whose crisp style and dynamic way with words have made him an international draw.
Most markets have the bout at a razor-thin price. Some offer both men at minus money. William Hill has Wilder -125, Fury +105.
When the two met in Los Angeles, Fury’s technical advantage, control of distance and counterpunching exchanges made it difficult for Wilder all night long. But Wilder flipped the script after struggling to find a big shot, and in the ninth round he sent Fury to the canvas with a short left hook followed by a ruthless overhand right.
Yet Fury made it to his feet and then turned the tide against a gassed Wilder. Fury landed clean punches in the 10th and 11th rounds to take back control, and going into the 12th, it was obvious Fury had outpointed Wilder.
With the fight seemingly in Fury’s hands, Wilder looked to seize it back with a wicked right-left combination that again dropped Fury to the canvas in a knockdown that seemed to be the deciding blow.
But Fury rose once more and beat referee Jack Reiss’ count. Fury responded to Reiss clearly and followed his directions, so the fight continued. The final seconds ticked away with both men standing and physically spent. After an embrace in the ring, the scorecards read 115-111 for Wilder, 114-110 for Fury and a 113-113 draw.
As you prepare to get in on the betting action surrounding this rematch, several factors should be considered.
With uncanny knockout power and a ferocious right hand, Wilder throws explosive punches. Despite some technical shortcomings due to a late start in the sport, the long and rangy Wilder possesses great athleticism and a unique body type.
This serves as an advantage in most of his bouts, but not against the massive Fury, who goes 6-foot-9 to Wilder’s 6-7. Wilder also falls short of Fury’s 85-inch reach, measuring 83 inches. Yet Wilder has proved to have the heart and killer instinct of a champion, showing his resiliency in the first Fury bout and his recent rematch against Luis Ortiz, in which Wilder knocked out Ortiz in the seventh round after being outboxed the entire contest.
This attribute substitutes for the flaws in Wilder’s skill set. He has shown improvement with each appearance in the ring and is starting to incorporate his left hand into his offense more.
But Fury thrives on sophistication in striking patterns and combinations, and he showed his edge in that area in the first bout. With exceptional ring IQ and savvy, Fury boasts unorthodox movements and well-timed punches that make him very hard to deal with.
And if you do tag him, Fury, like Wilder, has shown great moxie, and the durability of his chin is now something of legend. This grit was highlighted again in his most recent bout, a tough 12-round battle against Otto Wallin in which Fury suffered a brutal cut over his right eye but pushed through for a unanimous decision.
With Wilder and Fury both tested since their last meeting yet also carrying momentum, this rematch comes at perhaps the best time possible for these two generational figures.
One could go on for days about how good Fury is, and the camp that believes he won the first bout is correct. But count on the sequel having a different plot, as I foresee Wilder’s power being too much for Fury this time.
While it is logical to contemplate Fury again taking Wilder into deep waters and wearing him down, the threat of Wilder’s powerful punches remains too great.
What makes Wilder special is spearheaded by his right hand. While Fury is more skilled fundamentally, the one thing that makes up for a discrepancy like that is exactly what the Tuscaloosa native possesses.
Despite dishing out his fair share of damage in the first bout, Fury was never able to truly hurt Wilder despite fatiguing him. If Fury can outlast Wilder yet still fail to overcome the gap in punching power, he can do little besides taking it to the judges’ cards.
Potential bettors should also be aware that Fury switched trainers for this second installment, dropping Ben Davison for Javan Steward.
Fury will win exchanges and a chunk of the rounds, and it will take time for Wilder to settle in and find his rhythm. But that right hand will find its mark. And when it does, I do not see Fury surviving it this time.
I am betting on Wilder’s proven power. Fury will control a good portion of the fight and give Wilder plenty of problems, but a right hook from Wilder will connect in the eighth round to stop it and erase the possibility of a draw in what should be a classic heavyweight match.
I am not playing the Wilder money line. Rather I suggest going with round and outcome betting props/specials to capitalize on value.
Therefore, my two straight plays are: Wilder in Round 8 (18/1 at William Hill) and Wilder via KO/TKO/DQ (7/5 at William Hill).