Deontay Wilder is relishing the prospect of “holding all the marbles” upon beating Tyson Fury in Los Angeles tonight.
Fury represents the WBC heavyweight champion’s highest-profile and most significant challenge, and to many neutral observers a convincing victory would make Wilder the world’s leading heavyweight.
As an athletic, charismatic, entertaining fighter who has stopped each of his 39 previous opponents, Wilder is unusually not treasured in the US, long the most influential territory for boxing.
The success of rivals Fury and Anthony Joshua – the latter regularly fights in football stadiums – has regardless contributed to him unfairly being overlooked, but the 33-year-old said: “If people didn’t think I hold all the marbles in boxing, after this fight, there ain’t going to be any question who holds the marbles.
“The promotion has been amazing and I thank God for Tyson Fury because I have had to promote all of my old opponents. They were too scared to say what they would do.
“This event is big for me, all the guys before brought something to the table to take me to the next level.
“A lot of people doubted me before I fought a certain calibre of fighter. [Past opponent Luis] Ortiz changed that and Fury will do the same for me. I want you to witness greatness.”
Wilder may not be the polished champion the great Wladimir Klitschko was when Fury unexpectedly outpointed him three years ago this week, but he is widely considered a more powerful and more explosive puncher.
The 30-year-old Fury recognises the extraordinary power that he possesses, but he also insists that Wilder is so flawed that he should still pose little threat. “He punches hard but he didn’t fight anyone until he’d had 30 fights,” he said. “You can only knock out who’s in front of you but if you’re matched easily you get to 100-0.
“People are afraid before they get in there, like with Mike Tyson. They were just looking for a comfy place on the canvas. If I can’t beat Deontay Wilder then I’m not very good, simple as that. If I can’t beat Wilder I’m not the man I think I am. If I win a close fight I’ll class it as a loss because it’s not enough for me. How are you going to be considered a great if you can’t beat a bum who throws windmills?”
There has also been little in the final days to change the widely-held view that the likeliest outcomes are a Wilder stoppage victory or a negative Fury earning a decision, but the latter’s promoter Frank Warren said: “I don’t think this will be a dancing contest. To fight (Wilder), you have to put him on the back foot. You have to take him out of his comfort zone. Let’s see how he likes it if he starts putting it on him.”
Former world champion David Haye says he is “leaning pretty heavily” towards Wilder beating Fury.
“My bet would be Wilder by stoppage,” said Haye. “Fury has never faced an athlete like him before. The American reminds me of an NBA player in the way he can just keep going.
“Tyson will be aiming for a points win, but at no point will he be able to get excited even if plenty of rounds have passed. It only takes one Wilder punch to knock him out.”