Nearly 20 months after their thrilling rematch, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will clash for the third time at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night. Wilder, 35, will attempt to reclaim the WBC heavyweight title in what could be his last chance at the highest level. Fury, 33, will attempt to close the book on this chapter of his career and cement his status as the top heavyweight in boxing.
DAZN’s boxing broadcast team—Todd Grisham, former junior middleweight champion Sergio Mora and SI’s Chris Mannix—answer five burning questions heading into this fight.
Sports Illustrated: What is the biggest unknown for you in this fight?
Chris Mannix: Wilder weighed in at 238 pounds on Friday—the heaviest of his career. Will it matter? Wilder is convinced that more muscle—his upper body looked considerably bulkier than he was for the last fight—will make him more durable, specifically when Fury leans on him with his 6’9” 277 pound frame. But extra weight has been known to make fighters tire easier, and Fury is the far more comfortable fighter in the later rounds. Will the extra muscle pay off? Or will it just make Wilder a little heavier when he hits the mat.
Sergio Mora: The biggest unknown for me is how will Wilder react once he begins to get hit and outboxed … again. A new trainer and outlook won’t help him forget the beating he took the last time around. Another question will be if Wilder has total faith in his new trainer Malik Scott, and in turn, will Scott, who has never trained anyone at this level, have the complete confidence in what Wilder is capable of when going gets tough?
Todd Grisham: Will Wilder stand his ground? Fight going backwards? Try and press Fury? Will he even have a strategy? It might be better if he doesn’t. Trying to bait Fury into a “I’m more of a man that you” fist fight seems to be the best choice and one that Fury might actually entertain.
SI: What do you make of Wilder’s decision to bring in Malik Scott?
Mannix: It’s a mistake. Nothing against Scott, a terrific guy, but bringing in an inexperienced voice before the biggest fight of your career strikes me as a little nuts. Wilder plans to utilize the jab more; Mark Breland, who Wilder canned after the loss to Fury, is an avid proponent of fighting off the jab. Besides—Scott was a capable heavyweight, but he was a completely different fighter than Wilder. He was a pure boxer. Wilder is a pure puncher. My concern is Wilder tries to integrate Scott’s teachings, gets sloppy and then gets caught.
Mora: A former champion leaving his original trainer after a loss is nothing new in boxing. Fighters need someone to blame in order to continue owning the fickle feeling of invincibility. Especially punchers. When a big puncher finally discovers that his power is no longer enough to win fights, they make changes.
Grisham: Like everyone else, I was surprised at Wilder’s treatment of Mark Breland after the loss. All the theatrics aside, it seems like Wilder needed to make a drastic change after being completely outclassed in the second fight. Is Malik Scott going to be a home run or a dud? It seems like Wilder respects Scott, and is doing exactly as Scott asks, especially with his conditioning. I think we will see a better version of Deontay for this fight win or lose.
SI: How does Wilder beat Fury?
Mannix: Come forward. The biggest difference to me between the first fight and the second was the pressure Fury was able to apply. Wilder is a diminished fighter moving backwards—most power punches are. Most fighters are. Remember how Canelo Alvarez humanized Gennadiy Golovkin by taking the fight to him in their second fight? That’s what Fury did to Wilder. Wilder needs to be the aggressor. It may not be enough, but it’s the only way he can win.
Mora: He doesn’t. Sure, Wilder has the proverbial puncher's chance, but even that chance feels slim. Fury’s upper body movement is incredibly hard to pin down and land something solid on. In order for Wilder to win he needs fluidity and footwork—and he doesn’t have it!
Grisham: As simplistic as it sounds, land the right hand and knock him out. Full stop.
SI: Besides the WBC title, what is at stake for Deontay Wilder in this fight?
Mannix: His legacy. I don’t mean to be too dramatic, but everything is on the line here. I’m a longtime Hall of Fame voter. If Wilder doesn’t win this fight, I don’t consider him a Hall of Famer. He’s got a glitzy record, a stellar knockout percentage and a five-plus year reign as heavyweight champion. But his resume is woefully light on top opponents. His best wins have come against one opponent: Luis Ortiz, who Wilder stopped twice. Not to oversimplify, but if Wilder beats Fury, on my ballot, he’s a Hall of Famer. If he doesn’t, he is not.
Mora: Pride, reputation—you name it. Was Deontay really a big, bad, wolf or has been “huffing and puffing” all along? One thing is for sure, another brutal loss to Fury and everything he built will come crumbling down.
Grisham: I would love to say that if Wilder loses he could come back and fight his way right back to the top. Imagine him facing other contenders in outstanding matchups like Dillian Whyte or Anthony Joshua. Unfortunately, I am more in the camp that Wilder might walk away from the sport. He showed after his first loss to Fury that he can’t mentally handle losing. He blamed everyone and everything. If Fury beats him definitively again, I think Wilder might exit stage left.
SI: So … prediction?
Mannix: I can see this fight being something of a carbon copy of the last one. Wilder will have some success early. He will tire from Fury’s relentless assault late. Malik Scott won’t throw in the towel, but he may not have to. An avalanche of Fury punches will force the referee to step in. Take Fury, same as last time: seventh round TKO.
Mora: Fury by unanimous decision. I see Wilder being stuck between two styles: puncher and boxer. A fighter usually resorts to what he is and was, so everything he learned with Scott will be thrown out once he starts getting beat to the punch. I see Wilder trying to box early, stalk late and succeeding with neither.
Grisham: Wilder by knockout. You read that right. In his last fight against Fury, Wilder’s legs looked dead and his conditioning was questioned. However, from what I’ve seen Wilder looks like a man possessed. Sounds like one, too. He is in the best shape of his life. Wilder knows what losing feels like, he didn’t like it, couldn’t handle it and will refuse to let it happen again. Wilder will catch the overconfident and under inspired Fury with a vintage right hand and become … the new.
Todd Grisham, Sergio Mora and SI’s Chris Mannix will call four-division titleholder Mikey Garcia’s fight against Sandor Martin on October 16th on DAZN.
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