There are two main schools of thought when it comes to how boxing pundits and fans see the upcoming Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury fight playing out.
Those who see Wilder as the man remaining undefeated on December 1st are confident he will do so in destructive fashion – knocking out his foe.
Backers of Fury see the giant UK heavyweight winning a points decision – perhaps handing out a boxing lesson in the process – at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
While both of those scenarios are most likely, I have decided question whether the bout could end via another method…….. Namely, could Tyson Fury win by stoppage?
I'm not so sure myself, but stick with it as I give some background before attempting to outline a set of circumstances that could lead to this conclusion.
Deontay Wilder (40-0-0, 39KOs) is the current WBC heavyweight champion and, as his record shows, a knockout artist. Not blessed with the most fundamentally sound skillset, the Alabama boxer can look second best in bouts before settling any argument with his right hand.
Wilder last boxed in March when he went life and death in a thriller with Luis Ortiz of Cuba.
Ortiz was arguably ahead in the early running before Wilder downed him in the fifth. Ortiz roared back and had Wilder in trouble in round seven but the American showed great heart and determination to survive the Cuban's accurate missiles. Two tenth round knock-downs, the second of which ended the fight immediately, won the night for Wilder. The Barclays Center contest answered some questions about Wilder's heart and chin, but left some more – namely, could a more mobile fighter than Ortiz drag him to an even darker place than that famous round seven, then stop him?
The story of Tyson Fury (27-0-0, 19KOs) is well known. A huge 2015 upset win over Wladimir Klitschko in Germany installed the Englishman as the unified heavyweight champion. What followed for Fury was a 31-month ring absence during which time he battled mental health issues along with drug and alcohol addiction. He was also stripped of the three titles he had ripped from Klitschko's grasp. At one point it looked like Fury would never return to the sport.
But he did return, in June against soft touch Sefer Seferi. It was poor fare all round, the only notable detail being that Fury scaled 276lbs (it had been reported he had ballooned to over 350lbs during his hiatus) for the bout, which was basically an exhibition.
What followed was ten rounds of rust shedding against Francesco Pianeta in August. Fury was 258lbs for that fight and while he was far from dynamic or exciting, the time in the ring was valuable. Some of his old footwork looked to be returning as the bout ended while his timing gradually got better as the minutes elapsed.
Which brings us to here and now. Wilder's WBC title will be on the line in California as the two larger than life fighters go head to head.
In order for Fury to win inside the distance he will need to be defensively perfect and take numerous chances on offense. Not an easy combination to pull off against an unconventional opponent like Wilder. The UK fighter will have the size and reach advantage over his US adversary and this, coupled with his footwork and awkward style, could open the door to that manner of victory.
After a cagey opening round or two it is possible that Wilder could become frustrated. The longer the fight goes without the American landing anything significant helps Fury massively. Add to this the prospect of Fury landing peppering shots at will, building up a lead on the scorecards and we may see Wilder facing a crisis for the second time in as may fights.
Of course Fury will need to remain vigilant of Wilder's right hand and the unorthodox angles he throws it from but, if he can continue with this formula into the final quarter of the bout the unlikely stoppage could be on.
A tiring Wilder, unable to land any of the bombs he has been throwing can no longer defend himself as an accumulation of Fury punches sends him to the mat and exhaustion keeps him there.
Interesting theory or pure madness?
Looking for some balance, or perhaps sanity, I wanted to add some other voices to this piece. I got in touch with three sharp boxing observers and asked them all for their thoughts.
First up NY FIGHTS social media boss and West Coast ringside correspondent, Abraham Gonzalez chipped in: “Can Fury KO Wilder? I think so. But will it happen? Probably not. I think this is more so a twelve round decision fight and the victor may not be who the general public thinks it is.”
Next I gave author Glen Sharp a shout (Glen's recently published memoir Punching From The Shadows is well worth reading). Glen's response considered many factors: “Looking at the odds it seems the oddsmakers think Wilder can only win if he lands the right hand. I tend to agree with this. I think Fury will make Wilder look foolish until the fight is over, whether that takes twelve seconds, or rounds. Fury stopping Wilder is a possibility for several reasons. Wilder is not much of a boxer. He has a game plan – look for a way to land the right hand. Wilder doesn't have good defence, he has been hurt by lesser calibre boxers than Fury. Wilder has never fought anyone as tall or with the reach of Fury, who will be trying to occasionally work his own right hand around Wilder's left. Fury, who will combine feinting, movement and the taking of angles, could leave Wilder confused and vulnerable to punches he has not seen before. Will Fury have the capacity and the will to take advantage of these opportunities?”
To add a female perspective I posed Nayka Mercedes from the ESPN Boxing Insiders panel the same question: “No KO for Fury,” flurried Nayka. “Wilder took some big punches against Ortiz in his last fight and handled it well. All the stars have to be aligned for Fury to even come close to knocking Wilder out – I just don't see it happening.”
So there you have it – an outlandish theory suggested, appraised and commented on. However you see it going I'm sure as boxing lovers we all want the pay-per-view showdown (Showtime PPV in America/ BT Sport Box Office in the UK) to deliver.
We shall find out all the answers very soon.
Despite exercising my imagination, then putting pen to paper on it, I would be very surprised if Fury does stop Wilder. Sometimes though it is fun to step away from conventional thinking and map out an alternate ending. In boxing you just never, ever know.