Tyson Fury raised his eyebrows and grinned mischievously when asked about the boastful comments he made during this week’s news conference that elicited an angry response from World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
Wilder’s rage was evident, his eyes bloodshot after the confrontation; Fury remained calm. Vigor versus calculation is one theme heading into Saturday night’s main event at Staples Center as Wilder (40-0, 39 knockouts) makes his first pay-per-view title defense on Showtime against Fury (27-0, 19 KOs), an Englishman known as “Gypsy King.”
Wilder is expected to be in a rush to knock out Fury; he’s done the same to every other man he has fought.
“My numbers don’t lie,” Wilder told Fury. “I’m the best and I’m going to show you.”
Fury, a former champion, is 6 feet 9 and has an 85-inch reach, giving him a two-inch advantage in both areas. He also weighs considerably more than his opponent, 256.5 pounds to 212.5, and will to try to use his advantages to apply all the pressure he can.
“I’m going for the first-round knockout. I’m in L.A., it’s a Hollywood-movie-star, epic-battle type of fight and I’d love to get that,” Fury said.
Fury also has had Freddie Roach, a seven-time trainer of the year, assisting during training camp. Roach said he had identified a glitch that can be exploited in Wilder before he throws his lethal power punch, and the trainer has instructed Fury to remain off the ropes where Wilder has rallied in bouts.
“Tyson’s a real boxing aficionado, a historian, one of the most awkward guys you can fight because he can go orthodox or southpaw or switch hit,” promoter Frank Warren said of his fighter, who was named after Mike Tyson.
“Great footwork, long legs. He’s got this thing where he can tuck his chin under his shoulder and ride a punch, taking the momentum out of it by leaning back. He’s got no miles on him — in five years, he has seven fights. And he’s conditioned all this time.”
That is, all the time since he began emerging from the cloud of alcohol and drug abuse that followed his 2015 victory over Wladimir Klitschko. Fury said he was unsure whether the toll of his past behavior — which included drinking 18 pints of beer a day and snorting cocaine, and forced him to turn over the heavyweight belts he won from Klitschko — would be a factor should the fight extend into late rounds.
Warren said Fury is coming back from “rock bottom” and he’s never observed such an inspired transformation in his 40 years in the sport.
“He got himself back on track with a sense of purpose and self-esteem, and the fact he was the undefeated world heavyweight champion was the thing he could point to because that was when he was feeling his best — that was his way back,” Warren said. “He’s done tremendously well, losing 140 pounds in the last 12 months. His two comeback fights were nice to knock off the rust and the weight. This time, he’s trained for the fight. He is so up for this fight.”
Wilder has plenty of reason to be up for it as well. He hopes a victory will help him secure a shot at unbeaten three-belt champion Anthony Joshua for a 2019 showdown.
Wilder is coming off a win in March, a fight-of-the-year candidate against Cuba’s Luis Ortiz, and he is comforted both by the power of his right hand and his own discipline. His most impassioned responses to Fury during Wednesday’s news conference were to point out how Fury allowed his life to skid off the rails.
Wilder has a fierce desire to be known as a worthy descendant of the great American heavyweight champions, from Jack Johnson to Joe Louis to Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier and Tyson.
“It’s easy to make it in his country,” Wilder said of Fury. “It’s a small place.”