When WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder and lineal champion Tyson Fury meet at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night, they’ll not only be trying to break a tie after fighting to a draw 14 months ago at Staples Center . but also ending a two-decade drought since the heavyweights used to headline the biggest fights in Las Vegas.
Wilder-Fury II is arguably the biggest heavyweight title fight in Las Vegas since Nov. 13, 1999, when Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis II took place at the Thomas & Mack Center. Lewis won a unanimous decision and then defended his belts at MGM and in his native London.
The 1980s and ‘90s were dominated by Mike Tyson’s historic rise to the youngest undisputed heavyweight champion of all-time. Tyson lost to Buster Douglas on Feb. 11, 1990, but that fight took place in Tokyo, while most of Tyson’s fights during that time were in Las Vegas. After his 1992 rape conviction, Tyson’s comeback fights took place here, including “The Bite Fight” against Evander Holyfield in 1997.
There have been plenty of big fights in Las Vegas in the past two decades with Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, plus the rise of the UFC, but not in the heavyweight division.
And this rematch is as close to pick ‘em as we see in a major fight. Fury actually opened as a short favorite at a few books when the fight was first announced, but now Wilder has been bet up to -130 at most other books, including the host hotel with Circa Sports the lowest at -118. The “Will Go/Won’t Go” (a.k.a. Over/Under) was set at 10.5 rounds at most books with the Will Go as high as -140, though MGM books have gone to 11 rounds with Will Go -120 and Won’t Go +100 (even money).
This looks like a toss-up, with Wilder having the better chance at a knockout, but Fury outboxed him the first time despite being knocked down twice. So Fury has the better chance to benefit from the previous meeting in being able to avoid Wilder’s big right power punch. The only bet I’ve made on the fight so far is the Draw at 20-1, though the best bet is probably on the Will Go. A smart bet might be taking Over 11 rounds with less juice as opposed to 10.5 rounds.
“I’m going to knock out Tyson Fury in devastating fashion on Saturday night,” Wilder said.
Fury countered with: “I am knocking that bum out in two rounds. It’s going to be an early night.”
That’s typical of big-fight hype. However, this should go the distance. Fury got up twice in the last meeting, so he’s taken Fury’s best shots, and Wilder isn’t likely to get KO’d either.
Looking at the NCAA: If you’ve also been looking for action during the day, I’ve had a lot of success this season with unranked home teams against ranked opponents, including Georgia and North Carolina State upsetting No. 11 Auburn and No. 6 Duke, respectively on Wednesday night. Here’s this week’s potential plays:
Saturday: Providence vs. No. 19 Marquette, TCU vs. No. 17 West Virginia, Memphis vs. No. 22 Houston, Xavier vs. No. 12 Villanova, NC State vs. No. 8 Florida State.
Sunday: Indiana vs. No. 9 Penn State.
Looking at the XFL: Practice and injury reports aren’t out yet, but look toward sticking with home underdogs in the XFL as well. They’re 2-1 against the spread so far this young season, and we have three more in Week 3 this weekend: Tampa Bay Vipers +6.5 vs. Houston Roughnecks (though it would be better if Aaron Murray returns at QB for Tampa Bay); Seattle Dragons +5 vs. Dallas Renegades; and Los Angeles Wildcats +8 vs. the DC Defenders (the Wildcats looked much better in their loss to Dallas while DC is 2-0 but hasn’t been tested on the road yet).
Dave Tuley writes for VSiN.com, the sports betting network.