Fourteen months after their epic title clash resulted in a disputed draw, unbeaten heavyweights Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury will square off once more on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) will defend his WBC title against the lineal champion Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) in the division's most anticipated bout since Lennox Lewis knocked out Mike Tyson in 2002.
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Let's take a closer look at the key headlines surrounding the rematch.
1. Fury makes late change to trainer, philosophy. In easily the most newsworthy development throughout the build to the rematch, Fury's decision to drop trainer Ben Davison in favor of SugarHill Steward, the nephew and disciple of the late Hall of Famer Emmanuel Steward, was met with shock and concern. Fury explained the 11th-hour move as him needing to evolve into more of a power puncher in order to execute his plan of knocking Wilder out. Whether or not Fury is serious remains the biggest question entering the fight, especially considering the "Gypsy King" boxed so brilliantly in their December 2018 first bout only to be forced to settle for a controversial draw. Either way, making a change this drastic just two months out from the most dangerous fight of his career has left more questions than answers.
2. Wilder's focus is as scary as his punching power. If there's one thing that has stood out during the pair of Los Angeles press conferences to hype the fight, it's that Wilder has no time for distractions. Not only has the trash-talking Fury been noticeably tamer compared to their first fight when it comes to slinging insults and hamming for the cameras, none of it has come anywhere close to getting into Wilder's head. Seeing Wilder so in control of his emotions has been a scary sight and fuels belief he'll be even better in the rematch than he was in rallying to score a pair of knockdowns including a two-punch combo in Round 12 that nearly decapitated Fury but miraculously couldn't finish him. Wilder admitted after the fight that headlining his first pay-per-view on such a massive stage got to his nerves, helping to produce such a flat start as Fury bedazzled him. Wilder's pair of violent KOs in 2019 over Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz offer a frightening advertisement of his intentions on Saturday.
3. Does Fury have the same motivation when not counted out? It's certainly a fair question considering how often Fury has played up or down to the level of his competition throughout his career. Fury is historically at his best when critics are counting him out. His two best performances -- a 2015 upset of unified champion Wladimir Klitschko and the draw with Wilder that most believe he won -- came as a heavy underdog in which most predicted his demise. Fury will need to prove he can summon the same amount of fire and motivation as he had in 2018 following a miraculous turnaround from obesity, mental-health issues and substance abuse. He's either even money or a slight underdog to defeat Wilder at most sports books ahead of the rematch and given that his demeanor has been muted compared to the build of the first fight, it's a wonder whether Fury will be able to find the very best of himself. When comparing the 2019 campaigns of both, Fury's pair of victories over Tom Schwartz and Otto Wallin did little in theory to prepare him (save for the cut he rallied from against Wallin) considering both were showcase fights meant to draw audiences to ESPN+.
4. Can they all just get along? The fact that Fox and ESPN have come together to co-promote this PPV card could have a longterm impact on whether big-time fights between competing promoters and networks can become the norm instead of the exception. Premier Boxing Champions founder Al Haymon and Top Rank chairman Bob Arum haven't teamed up to produce a fight this big since the 2015 Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout which shattered PPV records. From the accounts of all who were present, fight week was nothing short of a nightmare as it pertained to sworn enemies attempting to team up for the greater good of the fight. Yet should Wilder-Fury II set a new tone of cooperation -- while, most importantly, succeeding at the box office thanks to the promotional reach of both major networks -- there will be little reason why future dream fights like Terence Crawford-Errol Spence Jr. can't be consummated.
5. What about that Anthony Joshua guy? Remember him? Joshua regained his trio of world titles late last year by outpointing Andy Ruiz Jr. in their rematch. If boxing matchmaking played out perfectly to script, the British star would also be waiting in line to face the winner of Wilder-Fury II in order to reward fans by declaring a truly undisputed champion. That isn't likely to happen in 2020 given that Wilder and Fury signed a two-fight deal in which the loser of Saturday's fight holds an option to kick in a mandatory trilogy fight (provided they accept the 60/40 pay structure to the previous winner). Crazier things have happened, of course, and Joshua appears headed toward a mandatory spring title defense against Kubrat Pulev. Still, there has to be a little hope inside all of us that Joshua shows up in Las Vegas this weekend and enters the ring ready to trade words with the winner.