On December 1 American Deontay Wilder and Brit Tyson Fury will go head to head for the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight championship of the world.
It’s a bout that carries major significance for the heavyweight division not just because of the presence of a world title, but because it helps further legitimize a division that has been fragmented and devalued over the last two decades.
But now, the sport is closer than ever to having an undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, and Wilder’s fight with Fury is a major catalyst that could help turn that potential into a reality.
Wilder may only have one of the heavyweight title belts, but his WBC version of the title is one of the most respected in the sport.
And by facing off against a man who held all of the other major titles before losing them outside of the ring, he can legitimately lay claim to being the lineal world heavyweight champion with a victory on December 1.
A glance at the latest boxing odds shows Wilder as the odds-on favorite to defeat Fury in their battle of undefeated heavyweights.
Wilder is the 8/13 favorite, while Fury is considered a 13/10 underdog. Given Wilder’s prodigious knockout power and incredible career record, those odds are hardly surprising.
Wilder has defeated all 40 of his previous opponents, and has stopped all bar one of them. And the bookies have made him a narrow 11/8 shot to add Fury to his long list of stoppage victims.
But if he’s successful in that aim, he will have done something that no other fighter has been able to do – rock Fury.
Fury is also undefeated, at 27-0, and has 19 knockout wins to his name. But, unusually for a top-level heavyweight, he isn’t renowned as a big knockout puncher.
Instead, Fury uses his excellent footwork and boxing skills to win his contests, and there was no better example of his rare movement and boxing ability for such a big man than in his unanimous decision victory over Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.
That win saw him capture the WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO and The Ring heavyweight titles as he became the lineal world heavyweight champion.
But issues outside the ring soon saw him lose all of his titles before he ever stepped back into the ring to defend them.
Now Fury is back, looking to capture the WBC title from the most dangerous knockout artist in the sport, and he’s happy to be helping bring the heavyweight division back to prominence by taking on the challenge.
“This is an important fight for boxing, because it’s two undefeated champions facing off,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
“There have been people not getting in the ring with top guys for whatever reason, but here you have two fighters stepping up and onto the line.
“I already became a unified champion; I’ve crossed the bridge into the very upper echelon of the sport. This time I’m back and I’m here for good. I’m back to reclaim my throne.”
But betting favorite Wilder is ready for the considerable challenge Fury will pose on December 1, and says he is in the best shape of his career ahead of the contest. He also said he wasn’t interested in talking about Anthony Joshua, who holds the other world heavyweight titles. Instead, he says, his focus is 100% on Fury.
“I’m feeling wonderful. My mindset and body have changed,” the American said ahead of the contest.
“I don’t have a message to Anthony Joshua, it’s all about Tyson Fury. I feel like a killer. I’m transformed into a killer.”