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LAS VEGAS — Deontay Wilder broke his right arm — the one that has led many to call him the hardest puncher in boxing history — in the early days of his training camp prior to his Dec. 1, 2018, fight at Staples Center in Los Angeles against lineal champion Tyson Fury. It would require surgery.
Then, late in camp, Wilder caught the flu bug. The result was that Wilder weighed in at just 212½, the lowest he’d been since he was 207¼ in his pro debut more than a decade earlier. Fury came in at 256½, so he had a 44-pound weight advantage at the start of the bout.
Wilder has weighed 223¼ and 219½ in his next two bouts, and figures to weigh in the low 220s when he meets Fury on Feb. 22 at the MGM Grand Garden in a rematch for the WBC and lineal heavyweight titles.
He won’t, though, cut the weight differential between them. If Fury is telling the truth, Wilder may face an even greater weight deficit in the rematch. The 6-foot-9 Fury told Yahoo Sports he expects to weigh around 270 pounds in the second fight.
He’s been working with nutritionist George Lockhart, who has been preparing his meals, and said it’s not part of a grand strategy to get bigger, or a repeat of what Andy Ruiz Jr. did in his rematch with Anthony Joshua when he essentially ate, drank and partied his way out of the IBF-WBA-WBO heavyweight titles.
Ruiz has never had a bodybuilder’s physique, and he came in at 268 when he stunned Joshua on June 1 and knocked him out in the seventh round to win the titles. Ahead of the rematch, though, Ruiz partied and lived the good life, which he admitted later, and weighed a whopping 283½ on Dec. 7 in Saudi Arabia. It was the third-highest figure of his career.
Fury, though, says he’s eating well and training hard and not concerned about a number on a scale.
“It’s not like I sat there and figured out a number and said, ‘I want to hit that number,’” Fury said. “I’m a heavyweight. I can weigh what I want to weigh. What I want is to be at my best on Feb. 22. So I brought in George Lockhart and I told him to do his thing and make sure I’m at my best. Whatever that is, 240, 250, 270, whatever, that’s what I’ll weigh. It’s no secret plan.”
Many eyebrows were raised, though, when Fury first said he thought he’d come in around 270 at the Feb. 21 weigh-in. In order to win, he needs to be able to avoid Wilder’s blistering right hand, and it’s normally easier to do that when you’re quicker and able to move better.
Fury promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank has been to watch Fury work out several times, and has raved about what he’s seen.
“He’s looked amazing, better than I have seen him,” Arum said. “This is no bull----: I really believe him when he says he’s going to knock Wilder out.”
But Arum isn’t so sure of Fury’s claim that he’ll be 270. The only thing he knows is that Fury isn’t partying and hasn’t ballooned up like Ruiz did.
“I’ve seen him a lot and he looks great, but I can’t tell what the hell he weighs by looking at him,” Arum said. “I think he looks like he’s ready to fight a big fight and is ready to perform at a very high level. I couldn’t tell you if he’s 250, 260, 270 or 280. I don’t have that expertise.
“Now, this is just my opinion, and they’re not telling me anything, but I don’t think he’s going to weigh 270. You know how he is; he likes to [expletive] around. I don’t know for sure, though. He looks good whatever he weighs, I can assure you of that.”
Lewis, Ward weigh in on Fury claiming he’ll be 270
Lennox Lewis, the former undisputed heavyweight champion, and Andre Ward, the former super middleweight and light heavyweight champion, aren’t certain they see the benefit of Fury adding so much weight.
Lewis pointed out that Wilder could stand to gain a few pounds after coming in so light for the first fight, but he is puzzled by Fury’s decision.
“I know Deontay felt he was a little weak in the last fight given he had the flu, or whatever it was, so I don’t think there’s any question he’ll be heavier, but it will be a weight he wants to be at,” Lewis said. “If Tyson Fury comes in at 270, what he’s been saying, I don’t understand that logic. I don’t know if he’s just throwing that out there or what.
“If his game plan is to go in there and go after the puncher so the puncher can’t punch, these are things you have to practice. To me, it seems like Fury’s jab and movement will be the key and do you move better if you’re bigger?”
Ward, who has called Fury’s last two fights from ringside as part of the ESPN boxing broadcast crew, was skeptical of the wisdom of that plan, as well.
He’s not as skeptical of Fury’s vow to go toe-to-toe with Wilder, but he sees issues with Fury coming in so heavy. Fury ballooned to more than 400 pounds after beating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 to become the unified and lineal champion. Beset by mental problems, his life spiraled out of control and he became suicidal.
When he decided to come back, he had a pair of tune-up fights in 2018 before meeting Wilder. In the first, he was 276 against Sefer Seferi after having been 247 against Klitschko on Nov. 28, 2015. He was 258 in his second tune-up against Francesco Pianeta.
He’s been 270 or more in three fights in his 30-bout pro career: He was 270 on June 25, 2010, in a TKO win over John McDermott; he was 274 in a fourth-round TKO of Joey Abell on Feb. 15, 2014, and he was 276 against Seferi on June 9, 2018.
“Initially, I don’t like it because it leads me to believe Fury could be a bigger target carrying more weight, even if it is muscle,” Ward told Yahoo Sports. “You’re going to feel that [weight], especially midway through the fight. It’s a tough fight. If Fury fights the way he says he’s going to fight, and I’m 50-50 on whether I believe that, but he’s saying the weight gain is to be able to lean on Deontay Wilder inside. He says he wants to take the fight to him, shades of [Marvelous Marvin] Hagler-[Thomas] Hearns.
“Initially, I don’t like the weight gain, even if he wants to have that kind of game plan. I don’t think he needs to be 270. The weight gain, in my opinion, is not necessarily that great of an idea because bigger is not always better. Wilder has proven that, I believe. But that game plan itself? If he executes it, well, people are either going to say he’s a genius or he was stone-crazy and he blew it.”
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