The highly anticipated rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder is mercifully just a month away.

Fury will go to war with WBC champion Wilder again on 22 February in Las Vegas, 14 months after their thrilling first encounter which ended in a controversial draw.

Wilder kept his title and has since defended it twice against Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz. Fury has fought twice, too, against previously unheralded heavyweights Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin.

With the boxing world split on who is the favourite, asks who is in the better shape for the second showdown?


Wilder has two KOs from two fights (Picture: Getty)

Wilder will consider himself the more in-form fighter after successive knockouts. He spent all of 137 seconds in the ring against Breazeale and coasted through the Ortiz fight before producing a one-punch knockout.

‘I thought Wilder was losing every round up against Ortiz until the knockout,’ Tommy Fury, Tyson’s brother, told ‘You need to be perfect for 12 rounds and he needs to be perfect for two seconds.’

Although Wilder drew criticism for his performance against Ortiz, the American has demonstrated a unshakable belief in his game plan. As such, it would be difficult to find anyone who would back a Wilder points victory.

Frank Warren, Fury’s promoter, explained: ‘I don’t think Wilder can change. His style is what it is and that’s looking for the opening to land the bomb. Most of the time he comes from behind to do that. Tyson can vary what he does. He’s not got a lot of miles on the clock. He’s got the better boxing brain and is more adaptable than Wilder.’

Fury, on the other hand, has had a less smooth build-up. Wallin was meant to be another dead rubber following Schwarz. Instead it was a gruelling, draining encounter that could cost Fury in the rematch. He looked lethargic against Wallin and the cuts he sustained, which almost cost him victory, were caused by a left hand that easily eluded Fury’s defence.

MORE: Tyson Fury’s Otto Wallin wake-up call adds extra intrigue to Deontay Wilder rematch

While Wilder’s display against Ortiz can be put down to him biding his time to strike, Fury’s Wallin nightmare can also be explained away by the facial wounds which effected his composure.

‘The Otto Wallin fight wasn’t ideal, but that won’t have any bearing on the Wilder fight,’ Warren said. ‘It was all down to the cut.’

Injury and fitness

Fury suffered two deep gashes last September (Picture: Getty)

Wilder appears to hold the advantage over Fury when it comes to injury. As already mentioned, the Gypsy King picked up two horrific cuts in his win over Wallin, requiring 47 stitches afterwards. Fury was then barred from sparring until December.

But Warren is adamant the cut is no longer an issue. However, as world champion Josh Warrington explained to in October, a bad cut becomes a mental battle as well as a physical one.

‘It can really mess with you afterwards,’ Warrington said. ‘You’ll be a little more cautious in your next fight.’

Aside from the injuries, a big positive for Fury in the rematch will be his fitness. Fury was underwent a drastic weight loss programme before the first fight and visibly slowed down in the second half of his 12-round war with Wilder. Now, over a year later, Warren thinks his heavyweight might come in a little heavier.

‘I think Tyson will be in a better place. He had those two warm-up fights before,’ Warren said. ‘He had to lose 11st in weight. There was the ring rust to get out of his system. This time round, his weight is perfect.’

MORE: Tyson Fury must overcome mental battle of suffering a cut before Deontay Wilder rematch

Tommy, meanwhile, believes his brother is better equipped for 12 rounds after losing a ‘strenuous’ amount of weight.

‘Tyson’s in better shape I think than Wilder,’ he said. ‘He had two sparring sessions with the first two opponents in front of a crowd, that’s really what they were. He went straight into the Wilder fight, effectively, and blindsided him.’

Wilder has no injury concerns like Fury, but the prospect of a fast turnaround might drain the champion’s reservoirs of energy. Going seven rounds with Ortiz on November 23 isn’t exactly ideal timing for a fighter who is used to six and seven-month rests between fights.

Coaching and team training

Fury split from Davison last December (Picture: Getty)

Fury and Wilder will both be based in America for their training camp. Wilder has stuck with his tried and trusted trainer Jay Deas, who he has been with since his amateur days and will continue to train out of Alabama. His coaching team have always focused on his strengths and that is unlikely to change for the rematch.

Wilder’s game plan will be to knock Fury out, just as he almost did in the first fight. The defending champion will be confident Fury’s power of resurrection was a one off, and is sure to test the resilience of Fury’s eye injury.

MORE: Tyson Fury breaks silence on his split with former coach Ben Davison

Team Fury, on the other hand, has experienced a shake-up. Gone is young trainer Ben Davison, who helped Fury regain his mental as well as physical health. The pair seemed a match made in heaven, but Fury has now linked up with Emanuel Steward’s nephew Javan ‘Sugar’ Hill and will train out of Kronk Gym in the Detroit.

Fury and Wilder fight again in February (Picture: Getty)

It is unclear how the change in trainer might affect Fury or if it will at all. ‘Sugar’ Hill and Fury have made no secret of their game plan for the rematch, with the new trainer revealing: ‘I believe in one thing, one thing only, if you get a knockout it’s the only 100 per cent sure way you know you’ve won the fight. That’s the way I was trained and I’m a strong believer. Get the knockout you don’t have to worry about the decision of the judges.’

It’s far from ideal to switch coaches less than two months before the biggest heavyweight fight of the year. But the belief in the Fury camp is the heavyweight can inflict defeat on Wilder however he pleases.

‘As long as Tyson’s on his game and stays focused for the full 12 rounds, then yeah, I see it possibly as a late stoppage or an easy landslide points win,’ Tommy predicted.

‘Wilder’s been hurt in a few fights. He got hurt by Ortiz. He got hurt in the first fight with Bermane Stiverne, he was rocked a little bit in that. Wilder is open to being hit himself. With Tyson’s punching power and the shape he’s in now, I just think it’ll be a whole different story.’

MORE: Frank Warren brands Anthony Joshua’s sparring offer to Tyson Fury ‘nonsense and pointless’

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