Fury v Wilder III: How the heayweight rivalry has unfolded ahead of trilogy fight

By Sports Desk October 08, 2021

After a positive COVID-19 test led to a delay, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will finally fight for a third time on Saturday.

Their initial meeting, way back in December 2018, was an epic, a drama-filled 12 rounds followed by a controversial twist with the verdict. While the action delighted all who had watched on, the split-decision draw satisfied no one.

If there were questions asked from that first bout, Fury provided emphatic answers in the rematch just under 15 months later.

Wilder not only lost his WBC title but also his unbeaten record, blitzed by a foe who made sure the scorecards were not required again.

So, what can we expect when the duo battle again in the ring? Before the first bell, look back at the story of the rivalry so far…

Early Christmas present a long time in the making

Fury and Wilder had seemed on a collision course well before their first clash, which was staged in Los Angeles. Indeed, the former had called out the American not long after beating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, getting into the ring to declare 'The 'Bronze Bomber' a "bum" after watching his rival defeat Artur Szpilka by stoppage.

They were again both inside the ropes when Fury defeated Francesco Pianeta in Belfast in August 2018, his second fight since returning to action. With a December 1 date finally booked, there was a press tour that took in three cities and saw plenty of words exchanged: they even had to be separated at the final news conference before the fighting started early.

Once they did get down to business, Wilder – coming in at his lightest weight since his pro debut – struggled to get to grips with the size of the task at hand against the bigger Fury, though he eventually caught up with him to score a knockdown in the ninth round.

If that moment was eye-catching, when he dropped him again in the 12th and final round, it appeared to have emphatically ended the contest.

However, Fury somehow recovered in time, climbing up off his back to beat the count. Having managed to make it through to hear the final bell, the challenger then listened on as the scores were read out: 115-111 Wilder, 114-112 Fury, 113-113 draw. Both felt they had done enough to get the verdict in the aftermath, yet the result just left everyone wanting more.

Eventually, we got it…

'Unfinished Business' delivers emphatic outcome

Both fighters added two more wins to their career records to remain unbeaten for the long-awaited rematch in February 2020. Fury actually managed three, if you count a brief foray into the world of wrestling.

When it came to the day job, the Briton opted to work with SugarHill Steward for the rematch. The switch in trainer led to a change in tactics, too.

Coming in considerably heavier than the first meeting, Fury wasted little time in taking control. His relentless attacks put Wilder down in the third round, then again in an eventful fifth that saw the aggressor deducted a point for holding.

During the seventh, co-trainer Mark Breland had seen enough, throwing in the towel to spare Wilder further punishment. The decision, however, was heavily criticised by the beaten fighter: "I just wish my corner would have let me go out on my shield - I'm a warrior and that's what I do."

Wilder also pointed to an elaborate ring-walk costume, made in honour of Black History Month, having an impact on performance, the 40-pound suit and matching headgear leaving him with "no legs" from the outset. His words carried little weight, however, and it appeared both men would move in opposite directions to continue their careers.

Changing times, but will it change the result?

Malik Scott is the new trainer in Wilder's team, the former opponent now charged with the task of working on a plan for the challenger to topple Fury and reclaim the WBC title.

It needed an arbitration hearing to make this third fight happen, though. Fury appeared set to take on Anthony Joshua in a lucrative showdown to find a new undisputed champion, only for a judge to rule he was still contracted to face his old foe instead.

The trilogy was originally booked for July 24, only for Fury to test positive for coronavirus in the build-up. A new October date was confirmed, but in the meantime Joshua lost his grip on the IBF, WBA and WBO belts, dethroned by Oleksandr Usyk.

A clash with the unbeaten Ukrainian could be in store for whoever wins at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday, but such talk can wait for the aftermath.

For now, the only focus for both Fury and Wilder is making sure they come out on top in the latest chapter of this rivalry, one that has seen far more words exchanged than actual punches.

Considering all that has happened beforehand, it should not be taken for granted that it is the last episode, either.

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