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Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder 3 prediction: Here’s my pick for Saturday’s heavyweight title fight
Published: Oct. 09, 2021, 9:00 a.m.

By Jerry Izenberg | For The Star-Ledger
“I’m gonna bring action. I’m gonna bring ferocity. Unless he brings a gun to the ring, he can’t beat me.” — Tyson Fury

“Tyson Fury is a very, very, very good fighter, but the Deontay Wilder I’m training has the power and skills to make this the easiest fight of his career.” — Malik Scott, Wilder’s new trainer

LAS VEGAS — During the final moments of the week’s last press conference, the conversation had reached what, in my pre-puberty days, we would have referred to as the Avon Avenue Grammar Schoolyard “Oh, yeah, oh, yeah, says who?” stage.


Deontay Wilder was screaming at Tyson Fury, who was screaming at Wilder. Bob Arum, who promotes Fury, was screaming at the moderator, Kate Abdo from Fox by way of Great Britain, and Abdo was desperately looking for someone to tell her whether there was going to be a stare-down between the two fighters who, by then, were all but foaming at the mouth and leaning toward each other with absolutely no security on the stage to restrain them.

What had begun as dignified Broadway drama had dissembled into storefront theater. That, in itself, does have some significance. This fight, despite the temptation to think so, is not going to be contested on the dueling couches of rival psychiatrists.

But that aspect is worth a quick look. You have to wonder what triggered the bizarre and groundless accusations of Wilder about why he lost the second fight. In no particular order of significance, he accused his assistant trainer of sabotaging him by throwing in the towel; he said something was slipped into his water bottle; he claimed Fury had an egg-sized hunk of metal in his gloves; and in some convoluted fashion, he also blamed the Nevada Athletic Commission.

Before that draw, he had won 42 straight fights, 41 by knockout. When he knocked them down they didn’t get up — never. But he knocked down Fury in the 12th with a hellacious right hand and while he pranced around the ring in triumph, Fury got up and fought.

The memory of that sight could influence this fight. How much? Who knows? But if it does have an impact on Wilder, I am reminded of an evening when Tommy Hearns, a powerful puncher, hit Marvin Hagler, with a savage right hand — maybe the best he ever threw. Blood streamed from Hagler’s forehead, but Hagler never backed up.

Hagler lost the round but won the fight right there. Hearns has said many times, “I hit him with the best shot I ever threw and he kept on coming. What was left for me?’’ And now Fury thinks the memory of him shaking off Wilder’s best punch and getting up when nobody ever had against Wilder, has haunted Wilder ever since.

Nobody knows for sure, but Fury thinks he does.

“It just shows you that I’m living in Wilder’s mind rent-free, the whole time, two years,” Fury said. “Every time he looks in the mirror, he sees Tyson Fury. Every time he goes to bed, before he closes his eyes at night, he sees the Gypsy King. And when he wakes up and thinks about it in the morning, he thinks of Tyson Fury.

“It must be crazy to be obsessed with a man like me.”

Interesting theory. But as of now, a theory is all it is. Somebody still has to get hit. To that end, Wilder says Scott, his trainer, has made him into a new and improved fighter.

“I gave him nothing new,” Scott says. “I got him to use the other skills he always had.”

Creating a new Wilder was a necessity. But in two weeks, he will be 37 years old. Fighters are creatures of habit. They come back to the corner between rounds and the trainer tells them, “Move to your left. I said, your left, damnit.’ The bell rings he moves to his left. As soon as he gets hit, he moves to his right again.

So what could Wilder have learned with the new corner?

“What he’d better learn is to learn how to fight,” said Teddy Atlas, the erudite trainer and commentator.

More than ever, this is a fight for the WBC heavyweight title between a boxer (Fury) and a puncher (Wilder). The chess match begins in the first round. In such fights, there is always a battle for the territorial imperative. Fury has more options. He can fight him in mid-ring because of his own boxing skills. If Wilder winds up on the ropes, well, that’s where Fury finished him last time.

We know that with a right hand like his, Wilder has more than just a puncher’s chance. What we don’t know is what his left hand has learned during layoff. Can he throw the kind of jabs that set up his great right hand? Can he hook to the body to take the steam out of Fury’s legs?

And as for the geography, if Wilder has to go backward, then he is burnt toast.

Staying off the ropes is going to be critical for Wilder. If he’s there, Fury will tee him up. Another unknown factor is the weights. Fury weighed in at 273 pounds and Wilder weighed in at 231. Fury won that fight decisively with a seventh-round TKO. Fury’s weight in his numerous clinches helped wear Wilder down.

They’ve fought 18.5 rounds in three bouts, and Fury has clearly won most of them. Up until tonight, Wilder had only one way to win a fight — the single right-handed punch. Fury can win any way that works for him on any given night.

It worked for Wilder before he fought Fury because as Atlas says, “There are a million corner guys who can tell you to go get him.’’ But they never teach you how. Fury knows how. He’s defensively sound, has fantastic footwork and has power in both hands.

If there is a new and improved Wilder, then this can be one hell of as fight. But I refer you to Michael Tyson: “Everybody has a plan until they get hit in the mouth.”

My pick: Fury by knockout.

Jerry Izenberg is Columnist Emeritus of The Star-Ledger. He can be reached at jizenberg@starledger.com.

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Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder 3 prediction: Here’s my pick

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