A wide range of boxing experts shared their thoughts on Tyson Fury versus Deontay Wilder III ahead of the heavyweight showdown Saturday night in Las Vegas:
The conventional wisdom after the second fight between Fury and Wilder is that Fury has Wilder’s number and would dominate him again. Wilder had some bizarre behavior in the aftermath of the loss, but you can’t forget that punching power. If new trainer Malik Scott can make a few positive changes, this is a different fight. I think it looks more like their first bout than their second, though. Fury is a far better boxer and his size is an issue for Wilder. I don’t discount Wilder’s chances, but I see Fury taking a unanimous decision in this one.
— Kevin Iole, Yahoo Sports boxing and MMA columnist
I admit: I’m not supremely confident in Fury, not after two bouts with COVID-19, a 20-month layoff and some extra padding — at least according to Sugar Hill — around his waist. But Wilder wasn’t just beaten in the last fight — he was broken. That’s tough to come back from. He flipped trainers, but Malik Scott can’t reinvent a 35-year old one-punch knockout artist, not in one training camp at least. I expect Wilder to be competitive early. But just like in the last fight, Fury will walk Wilder down. And just like in that fight, Fury will finish Wilder, this time by referee stoppage before the final bell.
— Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated senior writer
Fury obviously has proven to be the better fighter through nearly 19 rounds of their rivalry. But a highly motivated Wilder remains the most pulverizing puncher in boxing. He’ll handle Fury’s pressure and physicality much better than in their rematch to make this the type of slugfest he can win. Expect Wilder to land a devastating right hand at some point within the first six rounds, which will leave even the extremely tough Fury unable to recover. Wilder by knockout.
— Keith Idec, BoxingScene.com senior writer and columnist
We’ve seen Fury and Wilder fight almost 19 full rounds. That’s plenty of sample size in boxing. Fury won the vast majority of those rounds and he just seems like the better fighter at this juncture. Now, Wilder’s X-factor is his power — he can end the fight at any time, even against the superior boxer. Can he do that against Fury? I’m not so sure. Fury is the safe bet here.
— Marc Raimondi, ESPN combat sports reporter
Wilder seems dialed in and ready for the smoke with this third go-around with Fury, but the unbeaten Ring/WBC/lineal champion is smoke and mirrors. Fury says he’s going for the quick stoppage, but we don’t know what to expect from him on fight night and neither does Wilder, who figures to be a more polished puncher under Malik Scott’s guidance. But Fury’s feints and footwork will always trouble Wilder, regardless of Deontay’s technique or Fury’s approach. I think Fury will combine elements of what worked for him in both previous bouts: “stick and move” from bout one, “search and destroy” from bout two. One thing for certain is that Fury will punch and clinch with authority in this third bout. Wilder will punch with confidence as always, so he’s got the proverbial “puncher’s chance” but that basically means he’s got to get lucky or that Fury has to do something stupid. The Gypsy King could be a little crazy, but he’s no fool. Fury is smart — and smart wins fights. A distance fight favors Fury in my opinion and I think he’ll start to wear down Wilder after five or six rounds. Fury by decision or late stoppage.
— Doug Fischer, Ring Magazine editor-in-chief
I’ve wrestled with this pick a lot. My head has said Fury again by knockout but lately I’ve just had this feeling about Wilder. I like his demeanor. I like that he added some weight. I think he has total belief in new trainer Malik Scott. So while it’s a tossup to me, forced to pick I’ll take Wilder by knockout in around six rounds.
— Dan Rafael, Fight Freaks Unite
I expect the first few rounds to be very tense, as Wilder is still an explosive and dangerous puncher, regardless of the lopsided nature of their rematch. But as the fight goes on, and Fury settles in, his natural skills and advantage in size begin to control more and more of the action. While Wilder will remain dangerous, his effectiveness will wane in the later rounds. I have Fury winning by decision.
— Steve Kim, 3 Knockdown Rule
Fury vs. Wilder III is one of the most anticipated fights of 2021, and for good reason. Fury, the brash, undefeated British champion, does not move like someone 6-foot-9 and 277 pounds should. That impeccable footwork and head movement were on full display in the first two matchups of this trilogy. Wilder looked out of sorts dealing with that quickness and succumbed in the last fight midway through the seventh round. The question for Saturday’s fight is if anything will be different. Wilder’s trainer, Malik Scott, vows Wilder will be a new fighter. I don’t think so. I think he’ll go back to what he always does: trying to land his cannon of a right hand and end the bout early. There’s always that chance — he has a 98% KO rate — but I think Fury is just too much here. Like the last fight, he’ll pick him apart from range and close the bout with a late finish. Fury by 9th round TKO.
— Greg Rosenstein, the Athletic managing editor of MMA and boxing
Fury overwhelmed Wilder in the last fight by combining his superior skill with additional size and power. I don’t see that changing this time around, though Wilder, of course, remains dangerous with his incomparable right hand if he can find an opening. Fury by 10th-round stoppage.
— Sam Gordon, sports reporter, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Wilder has been a man of many faces over the last few weeks. There’s the silent face. The angry face. The confident one. The masked one. It’s hard to know exactly who he is. Maybe, that’s the idea. Maybe, he’s playing lots of roles in an attempt to confuse Fury. But Fury already knows exactly who he is. The man with multiple personalities is defined by a single dimension: His powerful right hand. It’s still there, dangerous as ever. But Fury survived the danger in the first fight. He eliminated it in the second. He’ll do it again. It’ll end, say in the tenth or eleventh round, with Wilder’s face looking like it did 19 months ago. Beaten.
— Norm Frauenheim, writer, 15Rounds.com and Ring Magazine
Fury didn’t want this fight. He wanted Anthony Joshua. So there’s an element of overconfidence to consider. There’s also Wilder’s new trainer, Malik Scott, a thoughtful fellow who might actually teach Wilder some technical alternatives. But Wilder has won a few rounds against Fury in their two fights and there’s no reason to think we saw a mirage last year when Fury destroyed him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fury end it early.
— Mark Whicker, columnist, Southern California News Group
Let’s be honest: This fight felt unnecessary when it was signed, and it feels unnecessary now. Unless Tyson Fury gets careless and walks into something, I just don’t see how this fight plays out much differently than the last. Fury’s victory in the rematch wasn’t as much about what he did as much as it was about what Deontay Wilder couldn’t. Wilder looked like someone who started boxing at 20 — which is exactly what he is. Frankly, considering his background, it’s both a credit to him and a reflection of the sorry state of boxing that he was ever able to become heavyweight champion. By backing up Wilder, Fury exposed his lack of fundamentals and minimized the threat of his right hand. The problems are with Wilder’s legs. Wilder has to keep them spread to enhance his power, but in doing so, limits his mobility. When he prioritizes movement and keeps his legs closer together, he can’t get the extension he requires on his right hand. He reaches with his jab. He doesn’t move his head. He can’t fight off his back foot. Against other opponents, the 6-foot-7 Wilder’s size masked some of these deficiencies, but in Fury, he’s taking on an opponent who is two inches taller than he is. Fury, for all his faults, is a boxer. He’s not particularly graceful and he’s not a sharp puncher, but he knows what he’s doing in the ring. He knows how to parry punches with his gloves and utilize clinches when necessary. That should be enough for him to repeat the gameplan from their previous fight. Fury should win, either by another stoppage in the second half of the fight or by a comfortable decision.
— Dylan Hernández, Los Angeles Times columnist
In the previous two fights, Tyson Fury has shown he’s too fast, smart and elusive for Deontay Wilder and that he can even take a heavy punch, fall and get up like a horror-movie monster. After losing most of the previous 19 rounds against Fury, Wilder should enter the ring showing some improvement and a different strategy, probably looking to land more body shots. Fury shouldn’t get too overconfident because Wilder is still one of the hardest punchers in the game (98% KO rate). Wilder needs to fight like this is his last chance to win a title again, control the range and hope he lands a powerful punch. Fury still is the better boxer in every way and should win by KO in the middle rounds. Tyson Fury by KO.
— Eduard Cauich, Los Angeles en Español sports editor
Call it the “fight of the year.” Go ahead, do just that. Or would you prefer it to be the “heaviest fight of the year?” Whichever way you decide to go, it will be a memorable one. The trilogy between Fury and Wilder will be something special, something that will be remembered for ages. Both weighed in at the heaviest in their careers and the blows will be heavier come Saturday night in Las Vegas. “The Gypsy King” has the mental advantage, as he’s already in Wilder’s head. Fury ruined Wilder’s perfect record and embarrassed him last year. Fury will repeat the script and will knock Wilder out by the ninth round.
— Jad El Reda, Los Angeles en Español sports editor
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.