Fury, Wilder finally set for much-anticipated third bout

The Associated PressWBC Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury, left and Deontay Wilder face off at a news conference in a June 15 file photo in Los Angeles.

LAS VEGAS – The long, winding, contentious, thrice-delayed, COVID-infested trilogy fight between WBC and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and former champion Deontay Wilder finally takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.

The pay-per-view card starts at 9 p.m. Fury is a -280 favorite over Wilder (+230).

As is the case for most championship fights in Nevada, Niagara Falls native Dave Moretti is one of the three judges assigned to the fight.

Fury and Wilder were set to rematch in July 2020, before COVID-19 moved it to October of last year, and was delayed once more. The second fight set a heavyweight record with a $17 million gate, and neither fighter or promoter were willing to part with that money to put on a fight with no fans.

Then, Fury tried to put together a fight with Anthony Joshua, who held the other three heavyweight titles at the time. Wilder and his team objected, saying they were granted a rematch in their contract. Their protest was held up in court, so Fury was forced to give Wilder the rematch first or be in breach of contract. However, as if this fight didn’t need any more drama, Fury tested positive for COVID-19 in the summer, delaying a potential August fight to tonight.

After two fights, there is no love lost between Wilder and Fury, to the point the two sides refused to do a traditional staredown at the pre-fight press conference on Wednesday out of fear a brawl would break out and jeopardize the fight.

After a draw in December 2018 — a fight in which Wilder (42-1-1, 41 knockouts), behind on the cards, nearly stopped Fury (31-0-1, 21) with a vicious two-punch combo in the final round — Fury vowed to stop Wilder in the second fight, which took place last February. He did just that, knocking Wilder down twice and stopping him at 1:59 of the seventh round after Wilder’s co-trainer Mark Breland threw in the towel to save Wilder from further punishment.

Wilder was so furious at Breland’s act, he is no longer a part of his team.

After the fight, Wilder had nearly as many excuses as he did punches thrown during the fight. He blamed a lack of stamina on a 45-pound costume he wore to the ring. He then accused Fury of tampering with his gloves and making his punches harder. He even said the water that was put in his water bottle between rounds was drugged.

Both men weighed in at a career high. Wilder, 238, was 7 pounds higher than his previous career weight. Fury weighed in at 277, which is one-pound higher than his previous high.

There was some jawing between the two fighters and their entourages after the weigh-in, but cooler heads eventually prevailed. Wilder’s entourage was yelling at Fury to take his shirt off, indicating he was too scared to show how out of shape he was. Fury responded by showing off not his abs, but his middle finger.

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