There’s an old saying that you should never switch horses midstream. So I should know better.
I’m a big Tyson Fury fan, have been for a long time. Nonetheless, I thought that this time Wilder would catch Fury with that big right hand which had knocked out 41 other heavyweights. So I said in my pre-fight pick, mistakenly, that if Wilder sent Fury to the mat again, like he did in the first fight, Fury wasn’t getting up, miraculously, like he did in the first fight.
But the Wilder big right hand was simply never an issue because Fury, and let’s say it, in his greatness, took the big right hand away from Deontay Wilder and thoroughly whipped his ass in the doing. It didn’t help that Wilder clearly was not mentally ready for the fight; there was something wrong in his head that could clearly be seen in his locker room. I love Lennox Lewis and Andre Ward as color commentators, they are excellent at what they do, and both commented that from the time Wilder arrived at his dressing room he was pacing up and down when most boxers would be saving their energy for the fight. And after the fight Wilder alluded to some things going on in his life, almost a half-assed excuse, but to his credit he didn’t go any further.
But let me not take anything away from Fury. The fight that made Tyson Fury the undisputed top man in the heavyweight division was nothing short of a complete and total dismantling of a one-trick pony named Deontay Wilder. My hat’s off to Fury whose intelligence, boxing skills and fight savvy I have praised here in the past. I doubt I’ll be picking against him again anytime soon. Fury demonstrated his greatness, though in fact he had made a believer out of me in the way he took down an aging but still game Wladmir Klitschko back in 2015. You have to beat the best to be the best, but they say the best make it look easy. Fury dismantled Wilder in record time and showed him up as having a shortage of boxing skills in his excessive reliance on the big right.
And like Wilder, I was so focused on that big right hand that had looked so deadly of late, that it didn’t dawn on me that Fury would come into the ring with an entirely different game plan from their first encounter. In so doing, Fury masterfully demonstrated that he could take the right hand away from Wilder, exposing him to a beating with an inside game.
Fury did that by leaning his 270 pounds and his six-foot, nine inch frame all over Wilder, hitting him hard to the head and body when he had the openings, and, in addition to the actual knockdowns, shoving Wilder to the mat more than once, something commentators Lewis and Ward predicted would sap Wilder’s strength. The fight-plan to be physical and rough-up Wilder on the inside (thanks, I’m certain, to Kronk Gym trainer Sugar Steward, the hiring of whom was another stroke of tactical mastery by Fury’s camp) achieved the desired result of never allowing Wilder to cock that big gun and fire.
Fury knocked down Wilder twice and landed 58 punches to Wilder’s 18, the match ending in a shocking seventh-round TKO. If some Wilder fans are complaining of Fury fouling Wilder by leaning on him, tactics of roughing Wilder up by grabbing him and shoving him to the mat, I say it’s perfectly legal if the ref allows it. By the time ref Kenny Bayless took a point away for these tactics, the damage was done. Fury’s game plan was well on its way to being effective so much so that the ultimate stoppage became inevitable. Yet it was something I (and I’m sure millions of other fellow fight fans) never thought we would see, Mark Breland throwing in the towel to protect his fighter from further damage, something Breland had no choice but to do.
The wily and able Tyson Fury has made a believer out of me yet again. This was an outcome that almost all fight fans, even those who picked Fury to win, never truly expected to see. He dominated Wilder, robbed him of his power, and beat him up with seeming ease. And in addition to showcasing his own skills and ability, Fury revealed for all to see Wilder’s clear lack of depth in terms of boxing skill. Wilder had one, and only one, weapon: his right hand. Meanwhile Fury, by comparison, has many arrows in his quiver as a well-rounded, skilled big man who moves on his feet like a cat.
I saw another great boxer of old in the audience, Tommy Hearns, a guy I love for his heart and grit. There are analogs to Wilder’s defeat in Tommy Hearns’ style that became his ultimate undoing by both Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler: the near total reliance on the big right. Just like Marvelous Marvin and Sugar Ray made Tommy pay years ago, Fury made Wilder pay in the worst way. When you’re a one-trick pony, and your trick ain’t working, you have nowhere else to turn. It’s got to be a very lonely place while you’re taking that ass whupping with no Plan B to go to.
Teddy Atlas has insisted that Wilder paid the price for never learning “how to fight” because he has always relied on his devastating power. I would add that because of his over-reliance on his right, Wilder didn’t have the skill to switch from brawling to stick-and-move. Had he done that, perhaps he could have avoided the beating he took on the inside where Fury forced him to fight. But Wilder has never shown me much footwork to speak of, as he relied on walking a man down and dropping that big right on him, the same big right which Fury so masterfully took away from Wilder, and which was clearly both a strength and an Achilles heel.
And if a third match gets made, I don’t expect Wilder to do much different as he will again be going in hoping to drop the big right hand. Some great talents are both strengths and weaknesses. Fury took away the single greatest strength of Wilder’s game from him and he will do it again in a third match, as older boxers generally can’t change their fundamentals.
Anthony Joshua better look out, should he and Eddie Hearn stop ducking Fury and make that fight happen. Like Wilder said in the post-fight, ‘The best should fight the best.” Should that fight get made, and it should be, my guess is that AJ is in for the exact same beating Wilder took. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “Tyson Fury cuts the fool, but he ain’t no fool.” Just ask Deontay Wilder. And suffice to say, there’ll be no more switching horses for this Gypsy King fan. — Ralph Semien