By Peter Lim
This is one of the freakiest heavyweight matchups in terms of body types. At 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-9 respectively, Wilder versus Fury might go down as the tallest combined heavyweight title fights of all time.
A stringbean of a heavyweight, Wilder is one of those guys with a metabolism who could devour a bucket of KFC an hour prior to weigh in but still lose a pound or two. He tipped the scales at 212 pounds and could conceivably drop to cruiserweight (he has flirted with the idea) to challenge Olexsynder Usyk for the undisputed world title.
While Wilder is built like an NBA player, Fury looks more like a rugby forward than a prizefighter. He reportedly bloated up to 400 pounds when he downward spiraled into an abyss of depression and alcohol and drug addiction. He tipped the scales at 256 ½, almost 10 pounds heavier than the 247 he weighed for his career-best performance against Vladimir Klitschko in 2015.
Style-wise, both fighters are as different as their body types.
Wilder’s concussive power cannot be denied; he has stopped all 40 of his professional opponents and the knockouts have usually been sudden and spectacular. He barely broke a sweat blasting out journeymen opponents earlier in his career and demonstrated he also had the staying power to rumble in deep waters when he stepped up with higher caliber fighters. Most importantly, Wilder has proved he retains his knockout power in the late rounds.
But Wilder’s defense is as porous as his punch is potent. He uses his jab effectively as a range finder but it is virtually useless as a stinging, whippersnapper shot to keep opponents at bay. Shorter opponents have had little trouble closing the distance to clip and even rock him. Two inches taller than Wilder, Fury wouldn’t even need to close the distance to beat him to the punch.
At first glance, Fury seems like a goliath – big and imposing but lumbering and easy to hit by a lither, more athletic fighter. But he’s not. Fury fights like a bigger, clumsier version of Larry Holmes, and like Holmes, he is deceptively evasive. At the right moments, he instinctively dips, tucks, covers and twists just enough to elude and deflect incoming fire.
Unlike Wilder, Fury is not the explosive puncher who takes opponents out with one shot. Instead, he overwhelms you with his sheer size and breaks you down with an accumulation of punishment. Even his jabs and arm punches can move his opponents around and force them to continually set and reset. Like the biggest kid on the block, he has never needed the meanest attitude or deadliest punch to be the playground bully.
Fury is three years removed from his most inspired performance that earned him the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. But in the interim, he has struggled with substance abuse, weight gain and mental health issues. He has had two fights against very non-descript opponents since completing rehab and resuming his boxing career.
We can be fairly sure Wilder's mental focus and physically conditioning will be at or close to 100 percent. The question is, which Fury will show up?