Deontay Wilder has never had a single reservation about rendering an opponent unconscious, and arguably does it better than any other heavyweight in boxing history.
It’s an outcome he and his team envision in the anticipated rematch with Tyson Fury, which headlines a joint ESPN/Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event on February 22 live from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. There also lies the hope within Team Wilder the British heavyweight can continue to gain employment in his current second line of work on the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) circuit.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that I like this man over here,” Shelly Finkel, Wilder’s career-long manager admitted of Fury as both teams shared the stage for a recent press conference. “When he tried to tell us that we picked a light fighter [for the first fight in December 2018], he knew that I knew he wasn’t.
“But also I do care about him. So hopefully after he gets knocked out [in the rematch], he has this other job with wrestling. They’re looking forward to him and he was great! So I’m really glad for him.”
Alabama’s Wilder (42-0-1, 41KOs) and England’s Fury (29-0-1, 20KOs) fought to a 12-round draw in their first fight, with Wilder scoring a pair of late knockdowns to partially erase a considerable scorecard deficit. Fury rose from the canvas in dramatic fashion from the latter of the two knockdowns which came in the 12th and final round, finishing the fight on his feet and confident he’d completed the upset.
Fury didn’t get the win, but the fact that he peeled himself off the deck went a long way in raising his profile, big enough to land a lucrative deal with ESPN+. He’s fought twice on that platform, with his connections on that side also landing him a fun gig with WWE beginning with the company’s inaugural telecast on Fox live in primetime. Fury headlined his own show, scoring an early countout win over Braun Strowman at WWE Crown Jewel last Halloween.
The side gig has brought a smile to the face of his longtime heavyweight boxing rival, to the point where he plans to incorporate elements of that world into their repeat affair in February.
“I'm prepared more than ever for this fight,” insists Wilder, who attempts the 11th defense of his title he claimed in a January 2015 win over Bermane Stiverne. “I told Fury two years ago I was going to baptize him. And I did just that. Rising up is part of the baptism and he did just that. I told him he was gonna go "TIMBER" and he did just that.
“This time around, it's a different story. This time around, this is called 'unfinished business.' This [time around], he won't be able to get up. And since he's in WWE, I'm gonna make sure he go right out the ring... and I might get up on the top of the buckle and come down with a flying elbow kick. Who knows, who knows? But I can't wait this fight.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox