Undefeated heavyweights Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury will meet in an epic world title showdown on Dec. 1 in either Las Vegas or New York.
According to a news release distributed by Premier Boxing Champions, both fighters have signed contracts for the fight and a promotional tour for the event will kickoff in London on Oct. 1 and continue with stops in New York City and Los Angeles. The bout will be televised in the United States via Showtime pay-per-view.
Wilder vs. Fury is a huge heavyweight bout by any measure. Both Wilder and Fury carry legitimate claims to being the world heavyweight champion into the fight, and each is considered by most to be elite heavyweight fighters.
Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) defeated Bermane Stiverne in January 2015 for the vacant WBC heavyweight title. The 32-year-old American power puncher has defended the belt seven times against mostly notable opposition.
Wilder’s best win was a round 10 knockout of the previously undefeated Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz in March. In that fight, Wilder was outboxed by the excellent stylist early before coming on in the second half of the fight, ultimately dropping Ortiz three times in the fight on the way to the stoppage win.
Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) defeated unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 for Klitschko’s longheld IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles. Klitschko, who had held at least a portion of the heavyweight championship for nine years, was also considered by historians at the time to be the lineal heavyweight champion.
Fury outboxed Klitschko for a total of six heavyweight championship claims--the lineal championship tracked by historians, the three aforementioned alphabet belts as well as designations per The Ring and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
But Fury relinquished his titles in 2016 after testing positive by the UK Anti-Doping Association for banned substances. The Irish Traveller took a two-and-a-half-year hiatus to work on mental health issues before returning to the sport earlier this year to continue his boxing career.
While the 30-year-old from the United Kingdom is probably best viewed as the former lineal heavyweight champion, some hardliners in the sport still consider him the lineal champ because he was never defeated in the ring and no fighter has since done anything to usurp his status as such.
Minimally, the winner of Wilder vs. Fury becomes one half of the first heavyweight superfight in over a decade.
Whatever one believes about the current status of boxing’s lineal heavyweight championship, Wilder’s WBC title belt will be on the line versus Fury, so the winner of the fight will become the clear opponent current unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua must face to establish the first undisputed heavyweight champion in boxing since Lennox Lewis in 2000.
Joshua, 28, took care of former world title challenger Alexander Povetkin over the weekend in a seven-round slugfest that saw Joshua outboxed early by the Russian before taking over in round 6 to ultimately drop and stop Povetkin the following round.
Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) is a huge star in the UK and seems on his way to becoming a worldwide sensation. Joshua won the vacant IBF heavyweight title in 2016 and has collected the WBA and WBO versions over the course of six bouts since.
Joshua’s best win was a April 2017 back-and-forth slugfest with former heavyweight champion Klitschko in which the Brit was forced to dig deep and rise from the canvas to score the knockout over Klitschko in round 11.
Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, already has Joshua scheduled to fight on April 13, 2019 at Wembley Stadium in London. While Ladbrokes considers a rematch with previously felled opponent Dillian Whyte as the most likely next opponent for Joshua at 15/8, a bout against either Wilder (9/4) or Fury (3/1) follows close and makes more sense at least from a fan perspective.
While Fury opened in July with bookies as a slight favorite to defeat Wilder at places like Ladbrokes, the odds have shifted slightly away from the UK fighter toward the American as the fight has inched closer toward reality.
While Fury has an overall better resume than Wilder and will probably be Wilder’s toughest test to date, backing Fury to beat Wilder is mostly about projecting Fury’s excellent boxing ability to carry him over 12 rounds of outboxing the hard-punching Wilder for a decision win in the method of victory market.
But Wilder is one of the best pure athletes in all the sport and the power he carries in his right hand might be unparalleled among all heavyweights in history. It’s reasonable to suggest Fury will be in the toughest fight of his career on Dec. 1 and that his hiatus from the sport could keep him from fighting to his highest potential.
If you’re looking to place an early bet on the fight, back Wilder to defeat Fury on the outright win market with your favorite boxing bookmaker. Fury will give Wilder new problems to solve and probably look good early on, but as the fight progresses and both fighters tire late, Wilder should be able to land something hard enough to put Fury done for the count.