By Nicole Allen
Two undefeated heavyweight champions—the United States’ Deontay Wilder and the United Kingdom’s Tyson Fury—will meet in the ring vying for the World Boxing Council’s heavyweight world champion on Dec. 1, 2018.
Wilder vs. Fury vs. is the latest blockbuster matchup to feature undefeated heavyweights and will be aired live from Los Angeles’s Staples Center. It will be Fury’s third fight since his return to boxing.
Wilder—the current WBC heavyweight champion and the only heavyweight champ in the US since 2007—has recorded 39 knockouts—including in his title defenses—in 40 fights. On the flip side, Fury boasts 27 undefeated professional fights, 19 knockouts, and is the technical holder of the in-demand lineal (“the man who beat the man”) heavyweight title (though—since he was banned from boxing after testing positive for drugs in 2016—he hasn’t defend the title for more than two years).
The faceoff between Fury and Wilder is billed as the most significant fight of the heavyweight title in the U.S. since the 2002 fight featuring Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis. Both showmen have the personalities and charisma to contest the heavyweight world championship.
Fury Taunts Wilder
The two fighters have in the past engaged in heated exchanges—on social media and in face-to-face encounters—with each sending a strong statement to the other.
“Deontay Wilder, you are going to get it and you are in big trouble,” the 30-year-old Fury taunted in an Instagram video. “I have never met a man I couldn’t beat in the boxing ring or outside on the street. I know you have got a big punch and I know you are unbeaten. I know you have got a big mouth and I know you want to win, but you don’t want it like I do. You can’t beat me. I will force my will upon you until you quit, and that is a promise.”
But What Does Wilder Think?
Wilder was much more measured in his response, perhaps still smarting from reactions to past hyperbole in which he suggested he wanted to kill a man in the ring (“I want a body on my record!”). In a Twitter video, Wilder said, “I can’t wait. It is going to be an exciting fight, an explosive fight, and one for the legacy. You’ve got the WBC heavyweight champion of the world versus the lineal champion. It is going to be a pleasure.
“The two best heavyweights, competing against each other, the best fighting the best, and giving the people what they want. This is what we’re doing.”
The talks and promotions for the showdown between Fury and Wilder have been going on for several years—mostly in video interviews uploaded to social media platforms like Twitter and YouTube—at least since April 2013, when the pair encountered each other off camera in Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena and promised to have a fight in the future.
Before Fury and Wilder could agree on that fight, boxing promoter Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua raised the possibility of a “super fight” with Fury to determine the undisputed world heavyweight champion. When that fight also failed to materialize, Fury again suggested a fight with Wilder.
From October 2016 that fight and many others were indefinitely postponed when Fury tested positive for cocaine, eventually costing him his boxing license and heavyweight titles. He continued battling alcohol abuse, depression, and excessive weight gain. He had decided to quit the sport altogether, but he changed his mind.
Fury’s ban on fighting was lifted by UK Anti-Doping in December 2017, and he regained his boxing license in April 2018. Wilder and Fury agreed on the terms of the fight and had a face-to-face encounter in September in Belfast.
What to Expect
Despite the challenges he has faced during that time he had stopped boxing, Fury seems to be in great shape and ready for the fight. Fury triumphed over Francesco Pianeta in September.
Wilder successfully defended his title in a rematch with Bermane Stiverne (a first-round knockout) in November 2017 and scored a career-best win over top contender Luis Ortiz (a 10th-round KO) in March.
The fight between Wilder and Fury is a big test for both champions and it’s going to define their careers in the history of world heavyweight boxing championships. After this fight, one of them can no longer claim to be undefeated.
If Wilder wins, he will likely soon face Anthony Joshua—22 wins, 21 by KO—who has collected the World Boxing Association and the International Boxing Federation heavyweight titles in fights against Klitschko and Charles Martin while Fury was out of boxing (as well as the World Boxing Organization’s against Joseph Parker).
If Fury succeeds over Wilder, however, a rematch will take place next year, according to a clause that Wilder insisted be included in the contract. That would derail AJ’s hopes of a unification fight against Wilder next April at Wembley.
That might suit Wilder. His team has been hesitant to accept a fight date with AJ, often rejecting advances unless a new offer is brought to the table.
Wilder, Fury, and boxing fans all have their own feelings and expectations about the fight. No matter who wins, a bigger and more important fight is still to come.