IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston weighs up Saturday night’s huge heavyweight clash between WBC king Tyson Fury and bitter rival Deontay Wilder at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder both came in at their heaviest-ever weights for tonight’s heavyweight title trilogy fight in Las Vegas, Wilder scaling 238 pounds, Fury 277, although actually they would have weighed a little less without jogging pants and sneakers (and, in Fury’s case, a tank top and a black hat). But the fact is, these are two big men carrying a lot of weight.
It’s debatable how much all this poundage is likely to affect the disposition of the contest. We could see heavy punches being thrown from the outset. Or there could be a lot of tugging and mauling.
Wilder was just over 212 pounds for the first fight with Fury and 231 for the rematch, which was his heaviest-ever weight. So he is now some seven pounds heavier than he has ever weighed for a boxing match.
The obvious question is whether the added poundage will help or hinder Wilder. He has been lifting pretty impressive weights in his workouts (I believe he has bench-pressed more than 300 pounds in the gym). It seems to me that Wilder’s focus will be on matching Fury’s strength on the inside and not allowing himself to be pushed back and bullied. At 238, I don’t see Wilder doing a lot of moving.
Fury is only four pounds heavier than he weighed for the rematch with Wilder in February 2020. But that’s still around 20 pounds more than he scaled for the first fight in the trilogy.
So, can we expect Fury to try to bulldozer Wilder out of the fight the way he did last time? Probably, but not necessarily. With Fury, you just don’t know what tactics he will use. He outboxed Wilder for much of the first fight. But he made it a physical, big man vs smaller man, type of fight in the rematch. My guess is that Fury will bring pressure but perhaps with a bit more caution that he showed in the return fight.
It’s always possible that Fury will look to box from a distance but his weight suggests he will be on the front foot again.
Wilder says he will “reintroduce” himself to the boxing public. He does seem to have worked well in the gym with his friend and former sparmate (and, briefly, his opponent) Malik Scott. But working on tactics in the gym is one thing and executing those tactics under the bright lights is something else entirely.
In the 19 rounds these rivals have shared with each other, most of those rounds have been won by Fury. Wilder has the big right hand, but Fury simply looks the better fighter, more skilled, more all-around balanced.
Wilder took a frightful beating in the rematch. He has done his best to convince himself that he wasn’t beaten on merit, casting blame in all directions. The fact is, though, that Wilder was basically crushed in the second fight. We don’t know if that defeat has stayed with him psychologically. Still, Wilder has had a year and eight months to regroup. Maybe he really can fight a much better fight than he did 20 months ago.
There’s a lot here for the bettor to unpack. Let’s see if we can find value.
Fury is the favourite, of course. Betfred offers Fury at 4/11 (-275). If you think the Gypsy King will once again roll right over Wilder, the Fury to win by KO/TKO prop is available at 10/11 (-110).
Wilder for the upset? That’s priced at 9/4 (+225). But if Wilder wins it’s most likely to be by stoppage. So Wilder backers might be enticed by the KO/TKO proposition, which is offered at 11/4 (+275).
The least likely outcome, one feels, is Wilder to win by decision. If you fancy taking a stab at this proposition you’re look at an attractive price of 20/1 (+2000) at Betfred.
It’s 1/3 (-300) for the “Distance — No” proposition. But the first fight went all the way, right? If you think that the third instalment can also go the route, it’s 2/1 (+200) that we hear the final bell.
How best to play the fight? I wouldn’t feel comfortable laying the price on Fury but I don’t think Wilder is going to be able to turn the tables. So I’d be looking at the proposition market.
The weight of both men, and what does seem to be a genuine animosity, has me thinking that this will develop into an attritional type of fight rather than a strategic boxing match.
Fury could stand off and box from, a distance, but my guess is that trainer Sugar Hill will have him going on the offensive again but with defensive alertness.
Wilder, bigger and stronger than last time, has clearly prepared himself for what the great Emanuel Steward called a “bone on bone” type of fight. But Fury is the bigger man. He figures to be able to wear Wilder down if it indeed becomes a trench-warfare type of fight.
I like Fury in the fight and the KO proposition looks tempting at almost even money. But then there’s always the chance that a bulked-up Wilder could land a fight-changing blockbuster.
So what else could we look at?
There are a number of total-rounds propositions out there. Under/over wagers are tricky, but after viewing the weigh-in, I’m starting to lean towards a play on the under 9.5 rounds, which is offered at around 4/6 (-150). This isn’t a bad price for a bout in which, for me, the signposts point to someone getting stopped.
Main image: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.