LAS VEGAS — By Tyson Fury’s standards, the black suit he wore to a media gathering in the vestibule of a showroom Tuesday at the MGM Grand was rather conservative. It had his face all over it, as his newly tailored dress clothes often do these days, but there is one significant difference in his wardrobe these days: The size.
The power forward-sized heavyweight has put on nearly 20 pounds since last he fought Deontay Wilder, when they battled to a dramatic split draw on Dec. 1, 2018. His suit size is smaller, though, and he’s clearly wider in the shoulders and narrower in the waist.
“Feeling great,” Fury cackled after saying again that he expects to enter the ring around 270 pounds on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden when he meets Wilder for the WBC and lineal championship (9 p.m. ET, Fox/ESPN+ PPV). He weighed 256½ when he fought Wilder at Staples Center, and is bigger than that now.
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It’s part of his plan to be as prepared as possible for what he called the biggest heavyweight title fight in nearly a half-century, since Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier met on March 8, 1971, for the first of three epic encounters.
That fight pitted two iconic figures, both Olympic gold medalists, both unbeaten as professionals and each with a legitimate claim to the heavyweight title. It was also the intriguing boxer versus slugger match, another parallel to Fury and Wilder.
“A boxer versus a puncher always makes a good fight,” Fury said. “As we’ve seen over generations and generations, 90 percent of the time, the boxer always wins. I’m glad I’m the boxer and not the puncher.”
A handful of days before they meet to determine the top dog in a reinvigorated heavyweight division, Wilder and Fury largely dispensed with the trash-talk and seemed at ease and confident talking about their impending battle.
Fury promised a “fantastic” show, while Wilder repeatedly stressed that winning in and of itself wasn’t enough. He said he wanted fans to be buzzing after watching it.
There is a danger in trying to be exciting rather than just doing what is necessary to win, particularly in this match. Fury knows that Wilder has the power to finish the fight with one shot, while Wilder understands that Fury can make him pay a severe price for every mistake.
Playing to the crowd could be dangerous, but in the entertainment business, risks are sometimes necessary.
“I want to make it great for the consumers who are looking in,” Wilder said. “That’s what you guys [in the media] say. You say you want great fights and you want to see the best fight the best. … It’s so important to me because other fighters, younger fighters, are looking up [to us]. We can’t make it equal [to past great fights]. It always has to be greater. For me, I always want to be a hard act to follow. I’m a leader and I lead by example.
“I always say we all have greatness within us, but greatness is only determined by service. God has blessed me with tremendous power and talent, and I’m going to use it up. With that being said, I just want to inspire other fighters to show their greatness and to provide the best that they can provide in this sport to make it great. It’s always supposed to be better than it was. That’s called growth.”
Fury expressed a similar sentiment, which is why he said he plans to take the fight to Wilder and search for a knockout rather than using his movement and boxing smartly.
And despite the heavyweight titles at stake, Fury said it essentially comes down to proving himself the better man in their personal one-on-one rivalry.
“I feel me timing is bang on,” Fury said. “My speed is good. For this camp, we’ve had a lot of fast guys in camp and they weren’t quick enough to get me with their shots. I think I’ll be OK [at the higher weight]. This is who is the better man, titles aside, belts aside. You have two men going toe-to-toe to see who is the best once and for all while they’re in their primes. Today, you rarely see that, but the people want to see that.
“I’ve got no hard feelings toward Deontay Wilder. I have no malice toward him at all. We’re going to have a fantastic fight and you know what, I’m going to leave everything in that ring. I don’t want to walk out of there thinking I could have done a little more. I want to leave that ring totally sick having put in that much work.”
Former undisputed heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, who has picked Wilder to win, understands as well as anyone the point the fighters are making. Holyfield had some grueling battles in legendary career, and said it takes a special something to push yourself to get ready for those kinds of battles.
“I always believed that I was the very best, and I know there were guys like Riddick Bowe and Lennox [Lewis] and Mike Tyson and them, they felt they were the very best, so the only way to decide that is by going in there and fighting,” Holyfield said. “You know it ain’t going to be easy, but nothing that’s worth having is easy to get.
“I think this fight, Tyson and Deontay, they both believe they’re the best. They fought before and they each believe they won it, so this time, they’re pushing themselves to make sure they covered everything they could possibly need to do to be ready for it. In this sport, you get in there and you do the very best you can do with the whole world watching, and it’s either good enough or it’s not.”
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