There were no surprises on the scale. There weren’t too many surprises off it, either.
Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury promised to be bigger and they were for a heavyweight rematch Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena that appears to be bigger than even they imagined after their controversial draw 15 months ago at Staples Center.
A capacity crowd gathered Friday to watch two men step on the scale. There were no limits. Heavyweights can go sumo, if their waistlines can handle it. There are no fines. No cancellations. The dessert bar is always open. The weigh-in was just a show, yet 5,000 fans were there, forcing security to deny anybody entry after the last seat was filled.
It was a promising sign, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said after watching Fury tip the scale at 273 pounds and Wilder at 231. Arum has boldly predicted a pay-per-view audience of 2 million for the ESPN/Fox telecast (6 p.m. PT).
If it hits that optimistic number, each fighter is expected to collect more than $40 million. Contracts filed with the Nevada State Athletic Commission include a check of $5 million for each. But that’s a fraction of what each is guaranteed — between $25 million and $28 million, according to sources attached to each promotion.
The potential for life-changing money has led to caution not often seen in a boxing business ruled by chaos. The Nevada commission banned the traditional face-to-face pose after the weigh-in, after there were shoves during a news conference Wednesday. A brawl or shove could lead to an injury and a costly cancellation.
But that didn’t stop Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) and Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) from engaging in some old-school trash talk. They were separated by about 10 feet, a barrier in front of each fighter and the scale between them. They shouted insults. Fury flashed a gesture. It wasn’t a peace sign.
“Two-hundred-and-seventy-three pounds of pure British beef,” said Fury, who was 16.5 pounds heavier than the 256.5 he weighed for the first fight.
A crowd dominated by British fans loved it. They sang “Sweet Caroline.” They chanted his nickname, Gypsy King. They booed Wilder
“Deontay Wilder told me this was his country,” Fury said. “But I told him Las Vegas belongs to me.”
Wilder was not worried about Fury’s extra pounds, which might give him leverage in landing punches he says will knock out Wilder within two rounds.
“Not worried about his weight, not worried at all,” said Wilder, who was 18.5 pounds heavier than the 212.5 he was in the first bout. “I’ve told him: ‘Don’t blink.’ I’m going to finish what I started in the first fight.”
Fury got up twice from knockdowns in that fight, first in the ninth round and again in the 12th, rebounding from the feared right-handed power possessed by Wilder, whose knockout percentage, 95.3, is the highest in heavyweight history.
“The percentages about to get him,” said Wilder, who hopes to surpass Muhammad Ali with his 11th straight successful title defense. Wilder and Ali are tied with 10, behind Joe Louis (25), Larry Holmes (20), Wladimir Klitschko (18) and Tommy Burns (11).
“He is the one who’s worried,” Wilder said. “You can see he’s nervous and he’s got a lot to be nervous about.”
Fury has a new trainer in Javan “SugarHill” Steward, a nephew of the late Hall of Fame cornerman, Emanuel Steward. There are questions about whether they have had time to build an effective relationship.
There also are questions about a wound that Fury suffered above his right eye in a Sept. 14 decision over Swede Otto Wallin in Las Vegas. He needed 47 stitches. Is the visible scar vulnerable to rupture over a bout scheduled for 12 rounds? There also are no British judges. All three are American — Dave Moretti of Nevada, Steve Weisfeld of New Jersey and Glenn Feldman of Connecticut. The referee, Kenny Bayless, also is American.
But there was no question about one thing Friday. It was a crowd for Fury. And expecting fury.