A few years ago, Hall of Famer Andre Ward told me that the last few days before a big fight are the worst.

Doubts linger.

Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will be throwing hands for the third time this Saturday night in Sin City. Fury is the champion, Wilder the challenger. Fury is undefeated – while Wilder’s only loss was to Fury.

Heady stuff.

The two big heavyweights met for the first time in 2018.

It was fitting that the first fight was in Tinseltown, the place of dreams, drama, and pathos. Fury did what he does. He boxed, baffling Wilder with quirky moves and combinations. Wilder knocked Fury down in round nine with a right-hand shot over the ear. Fury got up and fought back until the last round – when Wilder clipped him with a left hook and collapsed him with a right. Fury looked dead to the world.

Wilder celebrated his apparent victory in the neutral corner. Only Fury got up. Wilder, along with the sold-out crowd at Staples Center, was shocked. Fury even managed to stun Wilder with a jolting right hand during the last minute of the fight.

Even with the last round drama, it appeared that Fury had done enough to deserve the decision. Nope. One judge had Wilder winning the fight by an improbable 115-111 score. Another had Fury the winner by a 114-112 tally, while the third judged the bout a draw.

Fourteen months later, they fought again. Fury said in the buildup – he’d steamroll Wilder. Prophetic. He went full metamorphous. The boxer turned slugger. Instead of backing up, he came forward behind a snapping jab. He also mixed up his attack with some of the “old” Fury boxer moves. He twitched and feigned. His legs moved him around when necessary. He fired straight punches. Not from England, straight and down the pipe.

Wilder, undefeated in 42 fights with 41 knockouts, didn’t know what hit him. I’ll tell you what “it” was. Solid right hands, thrown with 273 pounds behind them. One, which floored Wilder, and likely broke his eardrum, if not his spirit, hurt bad. Wilder, shocked and confused, got up and looked at referee Kenny Bayless, demanding an answer.

Bayless didn’t have it, and neither did Wilder.

Wilder was bleeding from his ear and mouth. Almost every punch Fury threw appeared to daze him. He lolled on the ropes, his eyes glassy like an intoxicated bar hopper. Mark Breland, soon to be his ex-trainer, threw in the towel.

Fury rejoiced while Wilder, his face a bloody mess, mourned. Many excuses would come after the fight, many of the silly variety. But hey, whatever. Believing in yourself is paramount in boxing. Wilder wanted one more crack at Fury. A judge upheld the contract. The match was supposed to have gone down last July, but Fury contacted Covid-19 mere weeks before the scheduled date.

Fury is, as always, super confident.

The opponent [Wilder] doesn’t bring any more challenges anymore, it’s all about me,” Fury told Will Esco of BadLefthook. ” I learned that Deontay Wilder is a [expletive] and I’m gonna take him out in annihilating fashion.”

Wilder, with new trainer Malik Scott in his corner, is just as confident.

“Come October 9th, I will be reinvented, I will be rejuvenated, I will be violent, and I will be victorious.”

Lots of I will, but will he?

If you believe social media, Fury isn’t in that great of shape mentally or physically. On the other hand, Wilder is super focused on revenge. His best chance of making that happen will be in the early going. Fury, listed as close to a 3-1 favorite, will use his bulk [perhaps around 290?] to force Wilder to take a backstep.

I see Fury winning by late stoppage or decision.

Source: John J. Raspanti