By Paul Magno | October 11, 2021

Okay. Is there someone still out there who doubts that Tyson Fury is the best heavyweight in the world?  

The Gypsy King’s eleventh-round KO of Deontay Wilder Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas was epic, legacy-affirming, and hater-defying. Granted, he wasn’t doing away with Ali, Frazier, prime Tyson, or Holyfield, but he’s now, twice in a row, utterly dismantled someone in Wilder rated no worse than third or fourth in the world and as high as no. 1 or no. 2 in their first two meetings. Throw in the dethroning of Wladimir Klitschko and, well, only a paint chip-sucking moron could make a case AGAINST Fury being at the very top of the heavyweight hill. 

When facing Wilder, the big Irishman with the big boxing IQ always has a cornucopia of defects to exploit. In their first meeting, Wilder’s lack of mobility and inability to think on his feet were exploited. In fight number 2, Fury exploited Wilder’s inability to fight backing up. In this third encounter, he exploited, among other things, Wilder’s spindly legs and lack of lower body strength by leaning his walrus body on him whenever he was within grasping distance.

Fury’s domination was complete this time out, despite having to get through two knockdowns in the fourth round. He dominated Wilder from a distance and he dominated up close, wearing Wilder down until there was nothing but a big heart in a spent shell of a Bronze Bomber.

Fury’s next career moves are as clear as they are limited. He has to find a way at the winner of the upcoming Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua rematch to get those three remaining belts. He can also pick off the rest of the contenders-- Dillian Whyte, Andy Ruiz, Luis Ortiz, Joe Joyce, Robert Helenius-- to cinch up a legacy that, honestly, is already well-established. Then, whether Joshua succeeds or fails in his rematch with Usyk, that Fury-Joshua UK spectacular will be there. 

The jaded cynic in me still sees the possibility of a personal collapse and implosion with Fury, so I won’t declare smooth sailing all the way to the Hall of Fame just yet. Realistically, though, the only one who can beat Tyson Fury right now is Tyson Fury. He’s the most complete fighter we’ve seen at heavyweight in a very long time.

As for Deontay Wilder? There WAS a plan in place for him in his bid to take back the WBC heavyweight title. And he actually followed that plan-- for almost a couple rounds.

New trainer Malik Scott’s strategy was smart. Have Wilder use the jab and, specifically, use that jab to the fleshy gut of Fury. The idea was to keep Fury from advancing forward and forcing his guy into fighting in reverse, like in Wilder’s very ill-fated second go at Tyson back in February of 2020. Popping the jab to establish space would make it infinitely easier for Wilder to do what he does.

Unfortunately, all plans and strategies immediately fell apart as soon as Wilder was hit seriously for the first time. Predictably, he reverted back to who he is. 

And who is he? Well, most everyone with even half a boxing brain knows who Deontay Wilder is as a fighter. He’s got big power and is bullishly self-confident. He’s also a one-trick pony and, apparently, not all that coachable or trainable at this point (or, maybe, at most points of his career). 

We also know, now, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he’s not as good as Tyson Fury. 

There’s certainly no shame in someone having your number and/or in someone simply being better than you in the ring. And there was no shame whatsoever in the bravery and toughness he showed on Saturday against a man who clearly was the better man. 

Wilder absorbed the kind of punishment that ends careers. One has to wonder whether that punishment, along with the consecutive-fight humbling of a man whose entire game is built around bullish self-confidence, means the end of Deontay Wilder as a main stage presence. It’s not as if he’s going to go back to the gym and really get to work on the many, many technical and tactical flaws he has. Trainer Malik Scott is a smart and pragmatic boxing man, but he can only do so much. 

Wilder can still have his successes, but as long as Tyson Fury is at the top, he’ll have to settle for lesser glories.

Kudos to both Fury and Wilder for putting on a hell of a show. Both showed the world what they’re made of and both deserve credit for fighting with the kind of heart and passion Anthony Joshua DIDN’T show a couple weeks ago.

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