There is plenty of uncertainty surrounding boxing at present due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with shows around the world cancelled or postponed.
There is one near-certainty, though: when boxing eventually resumes after the outbreak, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will trade leather for a third (and final?) time in what has become the most absorbing heavyweight rivalry of the current era.
Looking ahead to the eventual showdown, here is a look at what we know so far and what we might be able to expect when these two giants collide.
What happened in the two prior fights?
Two absolute thrillers for very different reasons. The first fight, in December 2018, ended in a sensational – and arguably controversial – draw that saw Fury pick apart Wilder for most of the 12-round contest, although two knockdowns, including a monstrous shot in the final round, earned Wilder a split decision draw and ensured the American retained his WBC belt.
There were no arguments in the second duel in February, though, as an aggressive Fury delivered a masterclass to batter Wilder for six rounds before the champ’s corner threw in the towel during the seventh.
Aftermath of second fight
Unsurprisingly, the plaudits came pouring in for Fury, who has long regarded himself as the greatest heavyweight of his era. Now, more than four years after his historic win over Wladimir Klitschko and all the personal trouble he has endured in between, the self-styled ‘Gypsy King’ has a very solid argument.
For Wilder, his explosive five-year reign as heavyweight champion, and his unbeaten record, came to an abrupt end, and the Bronze Bomber did himself few favors by resorting to flimsy excuses for the reason behind his defeat, his heavy costume excuse going down as one of the great/worst excuses in sports.
Regardless of excuses, the most critical development during the aftermath was Wilder inevitably exercising the rematch clause. So off they go again.
When will the third fight take place?
The one great uncertainty. The original date was marked for July 18, but the global spread of the coronavirus means a showdown in mid-summer appears unrealistic. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who represents Fury, and the World Boxing Council this week revealed that October, or even later, is looking a more likely time for the fight.
Where will the fight take place?
While a location and exact venue are yet to be announced, Arum all but confirmed Las Vegas would host the trilogy fight, with the MGM Grand Garden Arena – the setting for the second bout – the likely arena.
Fury has fought each of the first three fights in his five-fight ESPN deal in Sin City, so it is safe to assume that Vegas will once again welcome the Briton to the strip. That is, unless somewhere like Saudi Arabia comes swopping in with mouth-watering sums of cash. And we know that could well happen.
Who is favorite to win the third fight?
This is where we have seen a huge swing in Fury’s favor over the course of this rivalry. Before the first fight, Wilder was the strong favorite and was priced at around -145 to claim victory by any method.
After that narrow battle, the odds came in much closer, but Wilder still shaded the Vegas odds at around -125.
Ahead of the third fight? There is no mistake as to who the bookies are picking to emerge victorious, with Fury priced at a massive 2 by any method. It means anyone who wants to make money on Fury to win the trilogy fight will have to lump on large.
Does that mean Wilder has no chance?
Far from it. Fury has proven over two fights and a total of 18-and-a-half rounds that he is by far the superior boxer with a skillset and ring IQ on a different plane to Wilder. The Gypsy King moves around the ring better, can execute myriad gameplans, can fight on the front and back foot and can slip and slide punches. And as he proved in the second fight: he can punch, despite Wilder and many observers believing he had “pillow fists”.
That all being said, Wilder still possesses the freakish power which has delivered 41 of his 42 victories inside the distance, and which was milliseconds away from landing the American victory against Fury in the first fight. Whenever anyone carries such ferocious knockout ability, they will always stand a chance and should Fury switch off for a moment, Wilder can unload his cannon.
What are the likely scenarios for the third fight?
As with any high-profile fight involving Fury, it is very difficult to predict exactly what will transpire but based on what we have witnessed in the two fights so far, there is one certainty: Wilder will never outpoint Fury.
That leaves three possibilities: knockout wins for either Fury or Wilder, or a points win for Fury. While there is plenty of time still to ponder and predict, a comprehensive Fury points win looks a likely outcome at this stage. Wilder, scarred from his last beatdown, should be working obsessively on his defensive flaws and on set tactics to avoid the new, more aggressive Fury.
Fury, in turn, will remain aware of the threat posed by Wilder’s power and will be happy to settle for a comfortable win after going the distance.
However this fight plays out, it promises to be another thriller and a fitting end to an entertaining and dramatic trilogy.