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After narrowly avoiding a loss in their first fight and suffering a sound beating the second time around, Wilder believes he has got Fury beaten in their trilogy fight. This claim, however, comes not from Wilder’s camp, but Fury’s. Without giving any details about how, probably because he wasn’t given the details himself, Frank Warren said, “He feels that he can. I know speaking to Shelly Finkel, his manager, he’s very, very confident. He believes he’s got the beating of Tyson. That remains to be seen.”
Wilder didn’t take the loss well and generally looked to latch on to any excuses that absolve him of being seen as the worse fighter. First, there were the excuses about his heavy costume, then he showed support for a number of conspiracy theories brought up by his fans which blame Fury’s win on cheating. The theories focused on Fury’s gloves, with many comically claiming that his hands weren’t fully pushed into the gloves and that Fury was punching through the laces where there is no padding.
One of the people who claim Fury cheated to beat Wilder is his cruiserweight brother Marsellos. Through his Instagram story, Marsellos made some strange claims, including that Fury, hid something in his glove which he used to hurt Wilder. Part of his message read “It was discovered by doctors that my brother has a dent in the side of his head. This is due to a blunt object struck against his head from his last fight. No glove or fist was able to cause the damage, according to the autopsy.” Aside from the fact that Marsellos used the word ‘autopsy’, which is a test done on a dead person to establish the cause of death, his allegations are very serious and if he or Deontay Wilder actually believe them, it’s something they should be taking up with the boxing commission, the WBC and the Police.
What does Wilder need to do to beat Fury?
Wilder has a number of options open to him going into the third fight. As a huge puncher, he could simply change nothing and hope he lands big this time, the same way he did in their first fight. Part of the problem the first time was that after he knocked Fury down, he didn’t capitalize on it. Wilder should have poured unrelenting pressure on Fury at that point, swarming him and giving him no space to breathe. Without the knockdown he would’ve lost on the cards, so it was always a bad decision by Wilder to let Fury collect himself and get his legs back, Wilder should’ve thrown all thoughts of conserving energy for the later rounds out the window and gone at Fury with everything.
The problem with changing nothing and trying his chances is that Fury has demonstrated a new side to him, aside he developed in order to neutralize Wilder. Fury got bigger and put much more focus on coming forward and being the bully, playing into the role of the bigger man, rather than the more skillful man.
In response to Fury’s adaptation, Wilder could do a similar thing himself and aim to come in at a career-heavy weight. Wilder has always stayed light for a Heavyweight, standing 6’7” but normally only weighing around 215-220lbs, Wilder could probably pack a lot of weight onto his towering frame. At his regular weight, he weighs the same as Oleksandr Usyk, who is constantly facing questions about whether he’s big enough for the division. The main arguments against a boxer trying to add 20+lbs to their frame would be that they might lose some agility, hand speed, or foot speed.
The thing is, not only is Wilder not known as an agile and maneuverable fighter, or one who relies on technical footwork to attack from angles or to defend himself, but he already managed to put on 18.5lbs between his first and second fight with Fury. Wilder weighed in at 230lbs and it was clear that adding the weight didn’t make him lose hand speed, he just couldn’t deal with an even heavier Fury who came it 273lbs and used that 43lb discrepancy to lean on Wilder every chance he got.
If Wilder bulked up even more it might make him slower, but in reality, it would probably only serve to give him more power. If Wilder chose to focus on his lower body, building his legs up, which have always looked undersized for his frame, it would translate into a better ability to deal with Fury’s weight and the ability to transfer more power into his right hand. I honestly think, the further he closed the gap on Fury weight-wise the better he would fare.
While building mass is a slow game, Wilder gained 18.5lbs in just under three months last time. Now he has many more months between now and his net fight with Fury. He could very plausibly pack on around 25lbs between now and December, which would put him around 255lbs, around the same as Anthony Joshua’s career-heavy weight of 254lbs against Carlos Takam in 2017. A heavier Wilder with bigger legs would move better, deal with Fury’s weight better, and all-round be more of a threat as a big puncher.
The other option is for Wilder to go right back to basics, to focus solely on his technical boxing, and hope he can eradicate with his many flaws. Improving as a pure boxer is a much slower route than gaining muscle though and Fury is so far ahead in this game already, it just doesn’t seem like a good choice at this late stage in his career. Wilder should focus on what he does well and try to emphasize it, rather than trying to completely change his game.
An expert’s opinion
Teddy Atlas took to YouTube to give Deontay Wilder some advice. Speaking on his channel, ‘The Fight with Teddy Atlas’, he started his video with “Look in the mirror, see what you see…see what looks back, see who looks back. That’s what you gotta do, you know. Be honest with yourself, start with that. It wasn’t because of the weight of the costume that you wore into the ring, it was the weight of the doubt that you carried into the ring.”
Atlas went on to explain that Wilder needs to own his defeat and build on it like Anthony Joshua did following his huge upset to Andy Ruiz Jr, “Be angry. Be embarrassed. Be mad. Be honest. Be determined. Be Joshua… be a guy who looked the devil in the eye and said ‘you know what you ain’t winning this time’ because that’s who one the last time, the doubt. Once the power wasn’t there, I know he got hit behind… hit behind the ear in the third round and it threw his equilibrium off. I know that stuff. I know fighters have submitted to that in the past and I know fighters have overcome that in the past, be one of the ones that overcome it.”
Atlas added towards the end of the video that Wilder needs to do more than rely on his right hand, “If I’m his trainer… I would say ‘you gotta put your own work in here tonight, you can’t go in there dependant on the right hand, you gotta in there dependant on you because it’s always about you.” He closed by saying that the day Wilder was going to get knocked down and beaten was always coming, it was just a matter of when.
What Wilder chooses to do going into his third fight with Fury is something we won’t find out until the weigh-in or fight night. If he comes in heavy, we know he’s going to war as a new man. If he weighs in the same, he might have focused on his skills, or made no changes at all. Either way, no one thought AJ was going to come in so light and outbox Ruiz in the rematch, no one thought Fury was going to come back from weighing 400lbs and box again at all, so no one knows what Wilder can do between now and then.