Fury calls Wilder bout ‘important fight for boxing’
Lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury is known almost as much, if not more these days, for his outlandish and comical behavior outside the ring than he is for his boxing inside the ring.
But Fury was down to business Thursday during his training camp media day at Churchill Boxing Club — the former Wild Card West — in Santa Monica, California, as he continued his preparation for his fight with world titleholder Deontay Wilder on Dec. 1 (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Fury seems to clearly understand how meaningful the fight is for his career, as well as for the sport of boxing.
“This is an important fight for boxing, because it’s two undefeated champions facing off,” Fury said after arriving by helicopter from his training camp in Big Bear Lake, California. “There have been people not getting in the ring with top guys for whatever reason, but here you have two fighters stepping up and onto the line.”
The 6-foot-7, 220-pound Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs), 32, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, had been trying to land a unification fight with three-belt titlist Anthony Joshua, Fury’s British countryman. But when no deal could be worked out, Fury was willing to take the fight with Wilder despite having had just two low-level comeback wins following a 31-month ring absence following his huge upset decision win to dethrone long-reigning unified world champion Wladimir Klitschko on his turf in Germany in November 2015.
Fury (27-0, 19 KOs), 30, never defended the belts, getting stripped of one for not fighting a mandatory defense because he elected to honor his contract with Klitschko for a rematch. But the sequel never happened because Fury failed two drug tests for cocaine and went into a downward spiral that cost him the other belts as he struggled with drug and alcohol abuse as well as mental health issues that he says he has addressed.
Fury returned in June for a victory and scored another one in August, after which Wilder, who will be making his eighth title defense, got into the ring, where they declared they would fight each other next in one of the most significant heavyweight title fights in years.
“I already became a unified champion,” Fury said. “I’ve crossed the bridge into the very upper echelon of the sport. This time I’m back and I’m here for good. I’m back to reclaim my throne. Even though I’ve had the tuneup fights, I feel like this is my true comeback fight.”
Like many, Fury doesn’t view the fight with Wilder as particularly difficult to assess. Wilder is a pure puncher while Fury is more of a quick boxer despite his enormous size — 6-9, 260 pounds.
“It’s a pretty easy fight to analyze,” Fury said. “Deontay Wilder needs to connect with that big right hand and knock me out, and I need to not let him do that. I need to do whatever I can to get out the way of that right hand, and make him worry about defending my punches.”
To assist him in that endeavor, Fury has been working with a new trainer during his comeback, the heretofore unknown Ben Davison, whom Fury tapped to replace his uncle, Peter Fury.
“I have a great sense of Tyson Fury and can feel what he needs when he wakes up each day and walks into the gym. Our relationship has really jelled these last 12 months,” Davison said. “It’s going to be an action-packed fight, that’s for sure. Both men are violent freaks of nature, to be honest with you. It’s going to be an epic battle.
“I think physically alone you can see how far Tyson Fury has come [as far as losing weight]. That takes a lot of willpower and dedication. He’s put a lot of work in just physically, and that’s really just a slice of what he’s shown in the gym.”
But what about Wilder’s awesome power?
“All heavyweights can punch,” Davison said. “If any one of them hit you on the chin, you’re going to have problems. It’s not the power of Wilder that we’re focusing on. It’s the agility, speed and awkwardness that he brings. We’re studying his habits and watching every little thing that he does in the ring.
“It takes fights like these to bring the best out of Tyson Fury. He’s a fighter who raises his game to what’s in front of him.”