After 20 months of taunting, cheating allegations and heated verbals, the wait is almost over as Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder meet for a third and final time.
The Gypsy King was a class above his American rival when they met in February 2020 as he put on a one-sided obliteration of the knockout specialist to win the WBC heavyweight title.
Yet there remains plenty of unknowns heading into this Sin City finale. Former cruiserweight world champion Johnny Nelson gives his verdict on what to expect from the T-Mobile Arena.
Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder meet for a third and final time in Las Vegas on Saturday
Tyson Fury has the height and reach plus a speed and fluidity that are rarely seen in a man his size. I know firsthand from sparring with him when he was a young man just how awkward he is to face.
You can’t pin him down. It’s like fighting through spaghetti because he is constantly moving and raining shots down on you. They are not powerful, thudding shots but after a while your resistance begins to wane. He doesn’t look conventional but there is no one more effective in what he does.
Fury, 33, is so elusive – he is constantly moving and raining down shots on you
Wilder, 35, can change a fight in two seconds with his devastating knockout power
Deontay Wilder has this natural, raw aggression, power and a punch that means he only needs two seconds in a fight to find that opening and deliver the knockout blow. That’s why he is a danger.
You can control nearly all 12 rounds but give him that opportunity and it can be lights out.
Wilder doesn’t have the technical ability of Fury. Working on his technique is something he neglected during his development because his punching power was so effective.
His previous trainer, Mark Breland, had started to improve that but, having sacked him after the last Fury fight, I don’t see his new trainer, Malik Scott, having a dramatic enough impact.
Wilder has been working on his technical ability but he is a limited boxer compared to Fury
As a fighter, Scott suffered a first-round knockout by Wilder and a burst eardrum sparring with Fury. That doesn’t tell me he has the secret to winning this fight. Wilder may be ducking, feinting and slipping more but I don’t see Scott improving much beyond maybe Wilder’s motivation.
Fury lacks concussive power in his punches, but you are hard pressed to find weaknesses. I am a little wary that he hasn’t been taking Wilder seriously enough until the last few days.
This is the key area for me. If Wilder really believes he was cheated out of the last fight and his defeat was the fault of others, then he has a serious problem. I believe that it is his way of trying to wind up Fury.
Away from the ring, I’ve found Wilder to be a nice guy but he has gone to ground over the past year and been obsessing about Fury, saying he is the only fighter he has ever hated. He can’t blame anyone else after this fight. It’s on him, his reputation depends on it, so I expect that to show in how he starts.
Fury’s father John has warned his son about the amount of people hanging round him and too many distractions in the build-up. I must say that is my concern too, that Fury has taken his eye off the ball against a man with everything to prove.
Mentality is key and may be Wilder’s undoing if he genuinely believes in his cheating claims
On paper this fight is made to entertain us: the aggressor against the boxer. Scott says we will see a different Wilder, one who will parry and slip more of Fury’s combinations, but his most effective weapon remains his unbelievable power.
When you have that in your armoury you will favour using that weapon. He is rangy, gets good leverage with his punches and he will look to put pressure on Fury and rough him up.
Fury is technically very good and can adapt mid-fight. I’d say Oleksandr Usyk is marginally better technically, but Fury could still beat him as he is the more rounded fighter and has the intelligence to ruffle anyone’s feathers. Fury doesn’t hit you particularly hard but he’s attritional. It’s like water hitting stone, which eventually will erode away. Fury likes to box at length, but can do the dirty work inside when required.
Fury will box, torment, tease and disrespect Wilder to get under his skin. He’ll blow kisses and talk to him because Wilder’s ego can’t take that.
Having revelled in being heavyweight champion, it’s very difficult for Wilder to be patient in the face of that goading. He’ll look to blast through Fury but that will expose him to being peppered by Fury’s sharp counters. That only doubles the impact of Fury’s effectiveness. He has an ability to see the calm through the chaos and he may not hit as hard, but he is solid.
Fury will torment, tease and goad Wilder in a bid to rattle the vengeful American in Vegas
Fury will look to box at length, keeping an eye on Wilder’s right hand, he’ll frustrate from the start and dominate with his weight and strength.
Out of all the nonsense Wilder spouted following the last fight, one line made sense. He said he should have started quicker. I expect him to fly out and bring greater intensity, but Fury must expect that, too.
There is always a danger that Fury could be clipped by Wilder, particularly in the opening rounds, but I see Fury going on to force a stoppage within 10 rounds.
Johnny Nelson was speaking to Simon Jones
Fury could get clipped early on but he is likely to force a stoppage in the latter rounds