There were a few faint chuckles in the audience on Monday when Tyson Fury said he planned to knock Deontay Wilder out when they meet for the heavyweight title on Feb. 22 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
Fury has a 67 percent knockout ratio, with 20 finishes in 30 fights, but he’s not exactly been known as an intimidator in his boxing career. He’ll leave guys swinging at air and will frustrate them to no end, but no one ever turns down a fight with Fury because they’re afraid of him.
As he prepares to rematch with Wilder, the conventional wisdom, as Fury noted on Monday, is that it will be Wilder if it ends inside the distance and Fury if it goes all 12 rounds.
Fury grinned at the notion. Seated next to him, listening silently, was Javan “Sugar” Hill Steward, the nephew of the late legendary trainer, Emanuel Steward. It will be Steward, not Ben Davison, who will prepare Fury for the man who is slowly gaining recognition as one of the greatest punchers in boxing history.
Boxing history has shown that the antidote to the kind of punching power Wilder brings is exactly what Fury does every time out: A stiff jab, good head and shoulder movement, light feet, an ability to control the distance and the ability to slip punches.
Fury, though, insisted that he is going to try to knock Wilder out, and while that idea and that game plan may seem far-fetched to some, there is at least some logic behind it. He’s concerned that he won’t be able to get a decision in the U.S. over a high-profile American fighter like Wilder. He feels he routed Wilder in their first bout, on Dec. 1, 2018, but one of the three judges actually scored more rounds for Wilder than he did for Fury.
Steward is from the noted Kronk Gym in Detroit, where the signature punch is a big straight right hand.
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Fury was knocked down twice by Wilder in the first fight, and seemed out cold until he shockingly rose in the 12th round. Fury seems disdainful of Wilder’s ability to land the right hand in the rematch, and noted that he fought the first fight less than two years after blowing up to more than 400 pounds and contemplating suicide.
He’s been committed to the game for all of 2019, and thinks he’ll be able to neutralize Wilder’s power just like he did in 2015 when he first won the belts from Wladimir Klitschko.
“Deontay Wilder’s going to come in and like he said, he’s going to be more patient, more relaxed and whatever he’s going to do,” said Fury, who wore a white suit with his image plastered all over it. “He’s going to try to land that right hand. Of course, that’s his best weapon, a big right hand [to] knock me out, or whatever. It’s my job not to let him do that.
“The fact of the matter is, I’m not going to dress it up, I’m going to speak the honest truth: If I’m stupid enough to get hit by that big stupid right hand, then I deserve knocking out. That will knock anybody out. As we saw, he hit me with it twice, and bam, I hit the floor twice. But it’s not how you hit the floor; it’s how you get back up and respond. He knows he ain’t messing with no quitter.”
There’s little doubt of that. He suffered a Grand Canyon-sized cut in his last fight, a win over a surprisingly difficult Otto Wallin, and he fought through it. He said he received 47 stitches afterward.
He’s not going to shy away. He says he’s not only going to win, but vowed to knock Wilder out. There’s logic to that strategy because if a puncher is on the defense, he’s not letting his hands go. But Wilder isn’t a guy who needs to throw a lot of punches to score a dramatic knockout, as he proved against both Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz.
The more punches Fury throws, the more opportunities he’s giving Wilder. It’s like walking a tightrope, but Fury called himself a winner and doesn’t want to leave his fate in the hands of the judges.
“The late, great Brendan Ingle once said, ‘To beat Tyson Fury, you have to nail him to the [expletive] canvas,’” Fury said. “That’s what this little skinny-legged super noodle will have to do, nail me to the canvas. And if he can’t do that, I’m going to eat him up. This time is going to be different. He thinks I’m going to come out herking and jerking, as Eddie Hearn says. Everyone loves that style now the herky jerky style of Tyson Fury. It made me famous. I’m not looking for herky jerky.
“I want him to meet me dead center of the ring and let’s have a slugfest. Best man stands up; loser goes down. I’ve got 20 knockouts out of 29 wins. He knows he was rocked three or four times in that fight. I didn’t have the gas to finish him. I’ll be honest and truthful: After the layoff, after all the weight loss, I never had the gas to put me foot down. And this time, I’ll turn the screwdriver until he’s done. I want to meet him head on, (mano a mano) in the center of the ring. Let’s make it a Marvin Hagler-Tommy Hearns type fight.”
That would seemingly favor Wilder, whom Fury’s former trainer said in November is the most powerful puncher in the history of boxer.
Tyson Luke Fury is no dummy, though. Few are more cunning, more clever and shrewder in the ring than he. If he says he’s going for the knockout, he knows what he is doing.
If he’s a man of his word and gets to the center of the ring and slugs it out, this could be a fight that will be remembered long after these two say their goodbyes to the sport.
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