LAS VEGAS — It is nonsense, and just flat-out wrong, to suggest that Deontay Wilder has no chance to defeat Tyson Fury when they meet Saturday at T-Mobile Arena for the WBC and lineal heavyweight title.
Fury is deservedly favored, and BetMGM has him at -300, with Wilder at +220.
But to suggest that Wilder has no chance to win the fight is overlooking the obvious. Wilder is one of the greatest sluggers in heavyweight history. Wilder is 42-1-1 with 41 KOs and he’s dropped Fury twice, both of those having come in their first meeting in Los Angeles in 2018.
That being said, there is a lot of reason to doubt that he can overcome the vast gulf that he faced in the last bout between them, when Fury stopped him in seven one-sided rounds. Wilder was down in Rounds 3 and 5 last time and his then-trainer Mark Breland threw in the towel in the seventh as Fury was loading up on Wilder.
The second fight highlighted a glaring weakness for Wilder: An inability to fight going backward. Fury noticed that in the first fight, and worked throughout his camp for the second at moving forward relentlessly.
At 273 pounds, he was like a truck with no brakes rolling down a steep hill, and Wilder seemed powerless to stop him.
In the aftermath of that loss, Wilder made a series of bizarre excuses:
• He said the outfit he wore to the ring was too heavy and said he had no legs as a result.
• He said that Breland may have spiked his water.
• He suggested that Fury had doctored his gloves in their first fight.
There was no evidence to support anything he said, and it seemed more like the desperate cries of a hugely proud and successful fighter who knew nothing but success all of a sudden having to explain away a complete dud of a performance.
Wilder fired Breland after that fight and hired Malik Scott. Scott has said all of the right things, but he doesn’t have an extensive track record as a trainer like the late Emanuel Steward or Freddie Roach or Teddy Atlas. He’s an unknown quantity, and until he shows he can make a difference, it’s fair to wonder what impact he might make.
The biggest thing Scott could do for Wilder is to have improved his jab and his footwork. If Wilder can throw a jab, step to the side and let go that bazooka-like right hand, the fight will take on a different complexion.
Fury is a master strategist and has proven he has the ability to adapt on the fly, something we haven’t seen from Wilder. So if Wilder is able to change the complexion of the fight in the early stages, we know Fury will adjust. The question is whether Wilder will.
Fury is -110 to win by KO/TKO/Technical Decision or DQ, which is a little surprising considering he’s tallied 21 KOs in 31 career bouts. Wilder by KO/TKO/Technical Decision or DQ is +275, and this is a guy with 41 in 44 bouts.
To me, the play to make is Fury by decision. Wilder should be better and it won’t be a shock if Fury attacks him at the opening bell. They went the distance in 2018 and it wouldn’t be a shock if they did it again. At +275, there is value on Fury by decision.
If you think Wilder is going to win, the only path really is by KO. He’s +1400 to win by decision, but that’s highly unlikely to occur. If you want to take a flier on Wilder and get a great payoff, he’s +5000 to win by KO in the first. I don’t think he will, but that said, if Fury comes out attacking and Wilder is prepared for it, as he should be, it heightens the chances of a first-round KO given his power.
I’ll stick with Fury by decision at +275.
Other plays for Fury-Wilder main card
• I like Adam Kownacki at -300 to defeat Robert Helenius (+220).
• I like Frank Sanchez at -190 to defeat Efe Ajagba (+135). I like Sanchez to finish Ajagba, but there is no line on that yet.