Boxing is a fast-moving sport that sometimes can take multiple viewing sessions to decipher what transpired on the night. It’s why watching old tapes on an opponent can give you insight into what you can expect from a stylistic standpoint, and it can also help a fighter to uncover any faults of his own that might be seeping through the cracks.
All of that insight is good for the boxers themselves, but it can also be used as a tool from a gambling perspective. I live in a world where my goal is to find tiny edges that aren’t seen by the public and to exploit that specific advantage against the casinos. That doesn’t mean I always solve the mystery that is placed in front of me correctly, but I do my best to leave no stone unturned.
I’m a big proponent that it can be dangerous to go with your first initial reaction when watching an event live because of the numerous pitfalls placed in front of us. Whether it is a biased crowd/announcing crew, a personal vested interest deviating us from the truth or perhaps just being too emotionally invested in the outcome, I believe there are a ton of subtle things we miss along the way.
The first time I watched the Fury/Wilder fight live, I had a few assumptions and takeaways that I no longer believe to be true. For starters, I was under the opinion that Fury hit Wilder with a rabbit punch that broke the American’s eardrum in round three. I don’t want to get into the logistics on if the blow was legal or not, but we learned that Wilder didn’t suffer damage to his eardrum after getting medical attention after the fight, nor did he sustain a concussion that might have caused the wobbly performance we witnessed for the next handful of rounds. I’m not saying the punch didn’t affect his equilibrium, but there’s more to it than one shot changing the outcome.
Naturally, if we can’t use that as an excuse, there needs to be another reason for Wilder lost. Boxers live in this world where they build themselves up to be the toughest man on the planet and can’t admit defeat when it is handed to them. It is why guys like Prince Naseem Ahmed have retired from the sport shortly after their first loss, and it is why random excuses always enter the fray. For Wilder, his reasoning came down to his pre-fight ring costume being too cumbersome. The 40-pound attire drained his legs before the fight even started and never gave him a fighting chance to compete. I do believe this explanation is closer to what did ensue on the night, but it wasn’t a costume that ended Wilder’s hope of keeping his undefeated record.
Here are five things I believe went wrong on the night:
1. Upper Body Too Big, Legs Too Small
Yes, Wilder is 100% correct. His legs did cost him the fight on February 22nd, but let’s not blame a ring entrance. Wilder entered the battle at a career-high 231 pounds, causing him to carry extra weight he wasn’t used to having for his smaller lower body.
2. Tyson Fury’s Strategy
To make matters worse for Wilder, Fury decided to weigh-in at 273 pounds – the third-heaviest of his career. Fury implemented a strategy to use his size and strength as an advantage by not only walking the American down but also using his weight to push down on Wilder during clinches. All of this caused strain to Wilder’s legs, and the increase of his own mass to go along with Fury’s size caused the lower part of his base to crumble.
3. Inability To Keep Distance
I believe Wilder was ill-prepared for Fury’s gameplan. As you can tell by now, all of these factors go hand-in-hand as a trickle-down effect for what eventually befell the ‘Bronze Bomber.’ Once one determinant started to crumble, the whole boat sank. Wilder’s lack of a jab didn’t keep Fury honest and allowed him to smother Wilder on the inside.
4. Incapacity To Disguise Right Hand
The great equalizer in boxing can be power, but one-punch knockouts don’t work if you don’t have the space to unleash the punch, nor does it operate correctly if the shot can’t be disguised. Wilder has a terrible habit of tipping his punches before they come, and while it might work against a smaller opponent that is forced into retreat mode, it doesn’t work against a larger adversary that is placing you on your back foot.
5. Lack of Boxing Skills
Once the strengths have crumbled for Wilder, his lack of boxing skills start to take center stage. Without the size or strength advantage he usually possesses, the American was transformed into a sloppy fighter who was manhandled on the night. Wilder’s inability to keep Fury off of him wore his legs down, and the abuse he took began to depreciate on itself round after round. By the end, Wilder became nothing more than a battered opponent who was too tired to stand on his own two feet.
What Does This Mean For Their Third Fight?
Power is the great equalizer and will probably need to be deployed for Wilder early in their fight if he wants to change Fury’s straightforward onslaught. Until he can get the Englishman to take a step back, it won’t be easy for him to find his range on shots. It would help if he could time Fury coming in, but Wilder is going to need to do a better job of using his athleticism for defensive purposes to create openings.
I’ve heard rumors that the American wants to put on about an extra 15 pounds for their third meeting, and while the idea of him becoming even more stagnant on his feet is a scary one, I don’t mind the concept if they focus on adding on some bulk to his lower half. Wilder has enough upper body strength that we don’t need to add extra muscle up top, and it would only cause the same outcome to happen once again.
Does Wilder’s camp have enough time to rebuild his frame before their next fight? I would have said no before the coronavirus put the world at a standstill, but their work will still be cut out to change the complexion of the third meeting. Ultimately, I think we see Fury put together a similar outcome after perhaps surviving an early desperation attempt from Wilder, and I think the American’s lack of reality of why he lost the second fight will come back to bite him in the end. Fighters need more than “yes men” in their corner, and it appears as if Wilder has one too many people who are unwilling to tell him the truth.