LAS VEGAS – When Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury fought in December 2018, fans were pampered. But it wasn't quite the full meal they wanted, as the anti-climactic result of a split draw gave everyone a sour taste.
That will change on Saturday night in Las Vegas when the two meet in a second act with the WBC, ring and linear heavyweight titles on the line. Simply put, it's the biggest heavyweight fight in over a decade and a rematch against one of the most controversial.
The enthusiasm this fight generates will only grow until the bell rings in the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Wilder (42-0-1) and Fury (29-0-1) serve as complete foils to each other. One is an undefeated American champion with destructive knockout power who is really taking shape. The other is an undefeated British technician whose clear style and dynamic use of words have made him an international draw.
Most markets have the fight at a sheer price. Some offer minus money to both men. William Hill has savage -125, rage +105.
When the two met in Los Angeles, Fury's technical advantage, controlling distance, and exchanging counter-strikes made it difficult for Wilder all night. But Wilder flipped the script over after trying to find a big shot, and in round nine sent Fury to the screen with a short left hook, followed by a ruthless overhand on the right.
But Fury got up and then turned the sheet against a gassed poacher. Fury landed clean punches on rounds 10 and 11 to regain control, and on round 12 it was obvious that Fury had exposed Wilder.
With the fight that seemed to be in Fury's hands, Wilder tried to recapture him with an evil right-left combination that Fury dropped again on the canvas, which was a decisive blow.
But Fury climbed again and beat referee Jack Reiss. Fury responded clearly to Reiss and followed his instructions, so the fight continued. The last seconds passed as both men stood and spent physically. After a hug in the ring, the score cards showed 115-111 for Wilder, 114-110 for Fury and a tie between 113-113.
There are several factors to consider when preparing for the betting action surrounding this rematch.
With uncanny knockout power and a wild right hand, Wilder throws explosive blows. Despite some technical shortcomings due to a late start in sport, the long and fiery savage has great sportiness and a unique body type.
This serves as an advantage in most of his fights, but not against the massive rage that 6-foot-9 goes to Wilders 6-7. Wilder also falls short of Fury's reach of 85 inches and measures 83 inches. But Wilder has proven that he has the heart and killer instinct of a champion. He shows his resilience in the first fight against Fury and his most recent rematch against Luis Ortiz, in which Wilder defeated Ortiz in round seven after overtaking the entire competition.
This attribute replaces the errors in Wilder's abilities. He has improved with every appearance in the ring and is starting to involve his left hand more closely in his offensive.
But Fury lives on sophistication in striking patterns and combinations, and he showed his lead in this area in the first fight. With exceptional ring IQ and skill, Fury offers unorthodox moves and well timed punches that make it very difficult to deal with.
And when you tag him, Fury showed great wild moxie like wild, and the durability of his chin is now something of a legend. This problem was highlighted again in his last fight, a tough 12-round fight against Otto Wallin, in which Fury suffered a brutal cut on the right eye, but prevailed for a unanimous decision.
Since Wilder and Fury have both been tested since their last meeting, but also have momentum, this rematch may come at the best possible time for these two generations.
You could talk for days about how good anger is, and the camp that thinks it won the first fight is right. But expect the sequel to have a different plot, as I assume that Wilder's power is too much for Fury this time.
While it is logical to think that Fury will bring Wilder into deep water again and wear him down, the danger of Wilder's powerful blows remains too great.
What makes Wilder so special is led by his right hand. While anger is fundamentally more skillful, the only thing that makes up for such a discrepancy is exactly what the Tuscaloosa native has.
Although Fury dealt his fair share of damage in the first fight, he was never able to really hurt Wilder, even though he tired him out. If Fury Wilder can survive and still can't overcome the gap in punch, there's little he can do other than put them on the judge's cards.
Potential bettors should also be aware that Fury has changed coaches for this second installment and dropped Ben Davison for Javan Steward.
Anger will gain exchange and part of the rounds, and it will take some time for Wilder to settle in and find his rhythm. But this right hand will find traces. And if it does, I don't see Fury surviving this time.
I bet on Wilders proven power. Anger will control a good part of the fight and Wilder will cause many problems, but a right hook from Wilder will join in round eight to stop him and rule out the possibility of a tie in a classic heavyweight match.
I'm not playing the wild money line. Rather, I suggest working with props / specials for round and outcome bets to benefit from the value.
So my two direct games are: Wilder on round 8 (18/1 at William Hill) and Wilder on KO / TKO / DQ (7/5 at William Hill).