Wilder vs. Fury II means more now than ever for the sport of boxing

It’s been a long time since there’s been a heavyweight title fight of this magnitude. Heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury will meet center ring for the second time. Waiting to crown a champion.

On Dec. 1, 2018, it was already an excellent fight. Fury was outboxing the puncher. But when Wilder–perhaps the best puncher the sport has ever seen–landed his devastating right hand, Fury was sent into an alternate universe. Flat on the canvas, back down face up. Motionless. Dazed. As the referee continued the count, a spirit of some sort traveled through Fury’s body, he rose again and finished the fight. After 12 rounds, judges scored it a controversial split draw: 114-112 for Fury, 115-111 for Wilder and 113-113.

Ahead of the rematch, because of a shoving match between the two fighters at the final news conference on Wednesday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission said that there would not be a face-off following their weigh-in Friday.

Even so, standing face-to-face separated by rope and security guards, the two heavyweights stared, exchanging words, gesturing hand signals to one another. The intensity was there. Fans in the packed MGM Grand Garden Arena cheered ahead of the most anticipated heavyweight championship fight since Lennox Lewis retained the title in his long-awaited showdown against Mike Tyson in 2002.

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It has the feeling of a super fight. All signs point to this being the fight that changes how people look at boxing.

Before it was Gene Tunney beating Jack Dempsey, in September 1927 named the “The Long-Count Fight.”

It was Joe Louis knocking out Max Schmeling in June 1938.

It was all the masterful performances by Muhammad Ali against Sonny Liston and Joe Frazier and George Foreman.

Or it was the start to one of boxing’s most celebrated eras, the age of “The Four Kings,” Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

But in less than 24 hours, all that changes. Wilder, a 6-foot-7 puncher from Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Fury, a 6-foot-9 boxer from Manchester, England, set up a rematch for the ages. With both fighters in their prime, it doesn’t get better for the sport.

Rivals are colliding. It could rejuvenate heavyweight boxing to what it once was.

Fury’s promoter Bob Arum and Wilder’s promotor boxing power broker Al Haymon hasn’t worked much together. For so long, boxing has been suffocating, searching for survival. Boxing used to be a mainstream sport, being relied on by the heavyweight.

It may be that way soon again.

Arum stated the event sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena, roughly generating $16 million in gate revenue.

The first Wilder-Fury fight attracted 325,000 pay-per-view buys and the rematch is estimated to crush those numbers.

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ESPN, who works with Top Rank Boxing and Fox Sports, a partner with Premier Boxing Champions, joined together. Both will screen the fight on its pay-per-view services and online platforms. During the College Football Championship Game, which attracted 25.6 million viewers in January, the fight was promoted. During the Super Bowl, two commercials ran, which viewership peaked at 99.9 million.

Everything is at stake: Wilder’s WBC title and Fury’s lineal crown. The winner will get a 60/40 split for a third fight that Saturday’s loser has 30 days to accept. The winner will likely be considered as the recognized heavyweight champion.

England’s Anthony Joshua currently holds three of the division’s four alphabet titles. However, the way he lost to Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019 has taken much of the hype away from a future matchup between Wilder or Fury.

Still, Lennox Lewis remains the last undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, which happened on Nov, 13th 1999.

Wilder is a bronze medalist from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He has 41 knockouts. Just when his opponent thinks he’s matching him, his one-punch power gets put on display—most recently against Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz.

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Fury, on the other hand, has a nation backing him. Boxing has remained a mainstream sport in England where boxers are national icons. He has 20 knockouts. He’s got the toughness. The Swiftness. And has mastered the art of boxing.

The fight is a match made in heaven for boxing fans all across the world.

And as the sport is entering new territory, it’s not the first time rivals have aligned; they did so for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. Both screened on Showtime and HBO pay-per-view. But, it is the first time doing so for a heavyweight battle.

In 40 years, people will be talking about where they were when this fight took place, just like people do with so many past fights. It has that type of impact, not only on boxing but on American sports.

Sportswriters, fans, people just watching because it’s on TV will be talking about this fight. It’s been a long time coming, but the next great heavyweight is upon us.

Both fighters are impacting the sport.

Both fighters boxing desperately need.

More now than ever.

But, only one can be victorious.

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