There are so many lessons to be learned from the final showdown between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury in Las Vegas. However, most of all, the last three years have taught us a lot about the life-altering consequences of counting your chickens before they hatch. Indeed, heavyweight boxing is an unpredictable and extremely dangerous game at the best of times, getting ahead of yourself will often result in a brutal outcome.
For Fury, he was the victor and it’s fair to say his life has improved immeasurably since 2018 before he started on the road with Wilder. Revealingly, there isn’t a man in the division that is predicted to beat him going forward. Indeed, if you bet on boxing with Betfair, you’ll see the latest outright markets have Fury as the would-be favourite to beat Dillian Whyte at odds of 1/7 and Anthony Joshua with odds of 3/10. Those odds back up the notion that Fury’s standing in the division has never been greater and tell a story of a man whose life has drastically changed for the better.
For Wilder, well, the same is true in the sense that his life has also changed but not necessarily for the better.
If we cast our minds back to 2018 when Wilder flew out to Belfast to watch Fury toil and make heavy work of beating the journeyman Francesco Pianeta at Windsor Park, we’ll recall how relaxed the atmosphere was between the two heavyweights. You can’t blame Wilder for writing Fury off as a threat, given his lethargic bout with Pianeta, especially having just watched it himself, ringside. As for Fury, well, he seemed happy to just be alive, never mind competing for the heavyweight championship of the world given how many demons he had to overcome to return to the ring.
In truth, the Englishman was a shadow of his former self and Wilder knew that which is why he hastily arranged to fight Fury in just six months when both men were in Northern Ireland. In fact, Wilder was in such good spirits and so relaxed that he thanked the crowd for the warm welcome and promised to fly a few of them out for the fight, which goes without saying, but that’s not the sign of a man who is fearing the future.
In Wilder’s mind, he thought to capitalise on the opportunity to fight Fury whilst his movement was sluggish and his power was seemingly non-existent. Six months later and 12 rounds into this fight, Wilder had only swollen eyes and a bulging nose after Fury had outboxed him from start to finish.
It was even more remarkable when you think that John Fury had described Tyson in the build-up as being as weak as a rabbit and not able to fight his way out of a wet paper bag, given how premature his return to the ring had been. In the senior Fury’s eyes, his son was a long way off being ready to fight a man of Wilder’s class, which is why it was such a stirring effort from the Englishman that made the hairs on your neck stand up, and a lump in your throat appear.
Yet, with just a minute to go of that fight, Wilder landed a thunderous left and then a right to send Fury to the floor. The American moonwalked over to his corner as the crowd roared with delight, he even blew a few kisses to his fans. With his back turned to his opponent and still celebrating, the unthinkable happened and Fury arose to his feet.
That would be the closest that Wilder would get to beating Fury as the Englishman, who finally returned to fighting shape again after that match, would go on to stop him twice in the two fights that followed.
Wilder’s on the road to redemption having finally paid respect to Fury. His recent statement would have won the hearts and minds of the global boxing community given that it was full of grace and humility. Wilder’s previous behaviour, including his claims that Fury cheated in their second fight, were completely unfounded and deserved to be condemned. Nonetheless, maybe we can cut Wilder a bit of slack after what he’s been through.
Yes, a lot of his problems today have been self-inflicted and that’s purely down to the fact that he had written Fury off before they first fought in 2018. You could say that Wilder didn’t only count his chickens before they hatched, but he also made the fatal mistake of naming them and building the coop.