Tyson Fury's rematch with Deontay Wilder is less than 48 hours away and the boxing world has already compared the historic heavyweight bout to the likes of Holyfield vs Lewis II in 1999 and Lewis vs Tyson in 2000. Fury believes it is the biggest since what is considered the fight of last century in Ali vs Frazier in 1971.
As the pair's own angst and excitement boiled over into pushing and shoving in a penultimate face-to-face on Thursday, fellow boxers and coaches continue to share who they got for a fight that judges could not settle on the first time. Who will walk out of Las Vegas the WBC heavyweight world champion? Will it be the twinkle-toed giant or the right-handed powerhouse?
The following are a few predictions from some of boxing's biggest names along with a couple of sideways looks at how Briton Fury (29-0-1) pans out against American Wilder (42-0-1).
Mike Tyson (retired boxer): Tyson Fury
"It's not easy to hit Tyson Fury. As big as he is, it's very difficult to hit, he's very elusive. It's gonna be a really interesting fight for both guys who have something to prove … I just wish the best for Tyson Fury, I'm going with the Tyson fans.
Evander Holyfield (retired boxer): Pick 'em
"You would say that it's a 50-50 fight because of course Deontay at any given time can throw that right hand and knock you out. But Tyson Fury, he's a clever fighter, longer arms and an awkward style that can make adjustments … At any given time, Deontay can get you out with one shot. It's gonna take a lot of shots for Tyson Fury to get you out. Everybody can come up with excuses, but the man who doesn't make excuses always wins."
Anthony Joshua (active boxer): Tyson Fury
"If I was a betting man, I would think yeah, Fury wins."
Ben Davison (Fury's former coach): Tyson Fury
"Tyson now knows not to off throughout the 12 rounds, I think he'll remain switched on. Of course Wilder will make slight adaptations, but I think as long as Tyson's switched on, concentrated … knows what adaptations to make, he'll be victorious."
Conor McGregor (MMA fighter): Tyson Fury
"Deontay's a powerful guy, but if (Fury) keeps his mind strong, keeps his playfulness, sharpness and elusiveness, I think he can do the job."
Joseph Parker (active boxer): Tyson Fury
"I'm sort of leading towards that saying (a great boxer beats a great puncher). He does have this one punch knockout. I'll back my boy, they're both my friends, but Tyson."
Terence Crawford (active boxer): Pick 'em
"I'm 50-50 on that fight, like I was the first fight. Tyson Fury is a tremendous talent, but at the same time Deontay Wilder got the indicator. Once he lays a hand on you, it's night night."
Devin Haney (active boxer): Deontay Wilder
"That's a good fight. Fury's a good boxer, he's shown that time and time again. Wilder is a tremendous puncher, he's shown it takes one punch from round one to round 12. I gotta go with Wilder, it's hard to bet against him because it just takes one."
Shannon Briggs (inactive boxer): Deontay Wilder
"Wilder, he cracking. Once Wilder hits you it's over. He's coming to a great point in his career. A collision course is happening, he's cracking hard, but he's also learning patience … Fury just came off a fight with a cut this big, how could that thing heal this fast? I'm just curious. That was the biggest cut I ever seen without a stoppage. That was a nasty cut, champ. What if he busts that again? Then what?"
A post shared by Deontay Wilder (@bronzebomber) on Feb 20, 2020 at 7:18am PST
Ricky Hatton (retired boxer): Tyson Fury
"I think Tyson is the best heavyweight in the division. I think Wilder is the second best … if it's half of the fight it was last time, the spectators are in for a treat. I thought he won the last one and think he'll win this one."
David Haye (retired boxer): Deontay Wilder
"I don't think people have mentioned the horrendous cut that Tyson Fury received in his last fight. I believe that will be opened up, then once he's lost one eye, Tyson's view and perspective will be lost, and he'll end up unfortunately walking into one of the biggest shots in boxing history. Wilder is that guy, unfortunately."
Paulie Malignaggi (retired boxer): Tyson Fury
"Can (Wilder) adjust to the jab of Tyson Fury, to the movement of Tyson Fury when it's time to cut off the ring? My guess is he probably won't and I predict a similar contest this time, with Tyson Fury this time getting the decision and outpointing Wilder."
Mikey Garcia (active boxer): Deontay Wilder
"Wilder knocks him out this time. He almost had him the first time, and he started picking up the pace fifth, sixth round. Had he done that a little earlier, I think Wilder would have knocked him out. However, he started a little late and was a little harder to catch up on points, whatever, and they ruled it a draw … He already dropped him, and right now Wilder's on a big high, you see the knockout he just had … no-one's gonna scare Wilder."
Tim Bradley (retired boxer): Tyson Fury
"We know what happened in the first fight. Fury felt that he won the fight, Wilder thought that he won the fight. We're in Vegas, you know how boxing can be with the judges. Neither these guys will go the distance, to the decision. Tyson Fury got a new trainer, he signed up with the Kronk gym. You know what Kronk means? Kronk means knock you out. He wants to learn how to turn those punches over. You got Deontay Wilder you know he brings the pain … I think this could end up being the fight of the decade. This fight's not going the distance."
The verdict: Tyson Fury
While these are just a host of opinions, the overwhelming majority have picked Tyson Fury to win on Saturday. They cite his performance in the first fight - in which he outboxed Wilder in arguably all rounds until being infamously knocked down - and his ability to last in the latter half of the 12 rounds. Quite a few have characterised Fury as being "smart" and "elusive", suggesting it will take seriously high-level movement to outfox Wilder's grenade of a right hand. There are two fair points made by those supporting knockout-artist Wilder: the first is that it just takes one punch; the second is Fury's freshly healed 47-stitch cut sustained in a tune-up fight against Otto Wallin last September. Those who watched the doctors examining his flapping eyelid in between rounds will recall the fight was very close to being stopped. But Fury will not let that happen again, surely?
Fury vs Wilder II begins at the Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas on February 22.
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