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The recent announcement of Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder’s fight being lined-up for December 19th, 2020, is fantastic planning. This year has seen serious boxing put on hold for the better part of sixth months, which means that come December there won’t have been many noteworthy fights.
As the disappointing audience numbers of Bob Arum’s recent boxing shows have illustrated, despite being starved of any matches to watch, boxing fans still won’t tune in for boring matches. By December of this year, we’ll have had Matchroom’s fight camp culminating in Whyte v Povetkin, but outside of that no other Heavyweight bouts worth noting.
Putting Fury v Wilder so late in December means that it’ll likely be the last big fight of 2020, whilst simultaneously being the most highly anticipated. The trilogy fight is going to do huge PPV numbers, realistically far greater than either of the first two fights, despite many fans believing it already has a foregone conclusion.
For Fury’s career, the momentum has been built perfectly since he made his comeback. His first fight with Wilder got America’s attention, with the draw possibly being the best result he could’ve hoped for in terms of long term benefit, the cliffhanger ending made sure every fan felt unsatisfied. That fight, particularly his insane effort to get back up off the canvas after Wilder dropped him, solidified his foothold in the US.
He managed to keep the American fans’ attention over the next two years despite taking on relative unknowns in Schwarz and Wallin, so much so that his second fight with Wilder needed barely any promotion beyond the obligatory trash talk. Beating Wilder so convincingly the second time though, bizarre excuses and allegations from Wilder aside, might under normal circumstances have reduced the desire from fans to see a third.
However, given the lack of big fights taking place globally when Fury and Wilder meet at the end of 2020, theirs will be the biggest Heavyweight fight to have taken place in America since they met in February. The pair will have opened and closed the year for American boxing fans, with barely anything noteworthy having happened in between.
If Fury wins the trilogy fight, the focus on him will be massive going into 2021, while Wilder will be forced to rebuild his career from many steps back. For Fury, he then has his WBC mandatory defense against Dillian Whyte in February 2021, followed by two possible fights with Anthony Joshua.
While the casual American fans might not normally have paid much attention to Fury v Whyte, coming off a second win against Wilder, there won’t be any major Heavyweight belts left in the US. From that point, Britain convincingly secures the monopoly on the Heavyweight division and any big Heavyweight fights for 2021 will have US fans tuning in to watch either Fury, Whyte, or AJ.
The timeline is getting very busy
For Fury, the turn around time between a trilogy fight with Wilder and his WBC defence with Whyte is just over 2 months. Assuming Fury does fight on 19th Dec and wins, the latest he could fight Whyte without missing his mandatory defence date would be February 28th. That time frame gives him just 10 weeks to recover from the Wilder fight, get new sparring partners in to prepare him for Whyte, and implement any adjustments to his build and nutrition, all while trying to minimize the risk of injury.
It’s a very difficult time frame even if we assume that Fury comes out of the fight uninjured. Any freak injuries like the horrific cuts he suffered against Otto Wallin could completely derail his 2021 plans and put his WBC title in jeopardy. Making further assumptions that Fury manages to beat Wilder without serious injury and then beats Whyte, he has two contracted fights with AJ at some point next year.
Anthony Joshua has his own mandatories to deal with from the IBF challenger Kubrat Pulev and WBO challenger Oleksandr Usyk. AJ is set to fight Pulev at some point this year, although it keeps getting postponed and we’ve yet to be given a new date since the most recent plan for July 25th was axed.
Following his Pulev fight, AJ must face Usyk as the WBO announced they’d not allow the mandatory fight to be skipped in favor of a Fury megafight. This put AJ and Fury on a similarly tight fight schedule if they want to make good on their mutual contracts and promises for an all-British Heavyweight unification bout.
Assuming AJ faces and beats Pulev at the end of 2020, which it’s in his best interests to do, he’ll likely try to organize a fight with Usyk not long after Fury faces Whyte. If AJ leaves his defense against Usyk too far past March or April, he’ll be giving Fury a lot more time to recover after Whyte, whilst at the same time cutting into his own recovery time after Usyk.
Given that AJ needs to face Fury twice in 2021, the pair will realistically want to save most of the year for themselves, leaving as long a gap as possible between AJ v Fury 1 and AJ v Fury 2. However the first one turns out, the loser will have a lot of adjustments and rebuilding to manage before the second fight. With their two fights representing the biggest fights of either of their careers since they each fought Klitschko, they won’t want their preparation to be anything less than perfect.
The more we look at the obstacles between now and any potential undisputed fight, the less secure it seems that things will go off without a hitch.
While Fury and Joshua should beat Wilder, Whyte, Pulev and Usyk, stranger upsets have come over the past two years than either of them losing one of those fights.