Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder: Two Men, Same Journey but Different Routes to the Pinnacle of Boxing

How does it feel to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and never get a chance to defend the title before losing it, only Tyson Fury can relate with this?

It all began three years ago when Tyson usurped Vladimir Klitschko in unanimous decision win over the Ukrainian heavyweight who had been defending his titles since 2006. At the time, Klitschko held four of the available five heavyweight titles and had successfully fended off attempts to get them off him with relative ease, sending the division into a coma. But Tyson Fury’s win ended an 11-year reign, awakening a dormant division.

What is more pertinent, however, is that Tyson Fury had been talking the big game two years before he finally got a chance against Klitschko, a deal that was difficult to make because Tyson Fury wasn’t a big enough name and had nothing of financial note to offer. Which makes it perfectly understandable that Klitschko took so long to give him a shot.

Tyson fury is not one that is particularly concerned about the money, he picks his opponents, and he’s not scared of the big fights, he craves them. No wonder he offered to take on Deontay Wilder after coming off perhaps the biggest fight of all; a battle against his own mental health which pushed him to the point of suicide until “a voice” cautioned him, and in his own admission, it took an infinite interference for him to actually get out of the helpless, sorry state he was deeply stuck in.

In the ring though he wouldn’t be needing such intervention to dismantle Deontay Wilder – oh! Does anyone really dismantle the “Bronze Bomber”?

Wilder is another man whose path to the pinnacle of heavyweight boxing hasn’t been straightforward either. He’s a great boxer, been so long in the sport yet he hasn’t lost any of the raw traits usually attributed to amateurs. Deontay Wilder is special and ridiculously powerful, no disputing it, but for all his power he has never really gotten the attention that his gifts deserve, not in America and certainly not globally.

Until his unanimous points victory over Bernie Stiverne – the only time Wilder has failed to knock out his opponent in 40 bouts spanning over 10 years of professional boxing – in the WBC category of the heavyweight division, Deontay Wilder wasn’t a big name in the sport. And that must have hurt him more than most.

Again, like Fury, Deontay Wilder simply loves the sport. He is not keen on making the big bucks from bouts, he just wants to brutally dismantle anyone who comes his way, be it Arthur Spilka, Eric Molina, Luis Ortiz, bring on anybody and it usually ends one way, a Knock-out. The highest Deontay Wilder has ever earned from a single bout is $2.1 million for beating Luis Ortiz in March. By comparison, Anthony Joshua earned $25.5 million for beating Alexander Povetkin in September. Although, it is unfair to assume Joshua is usually motivated by money, it is a sport and it will be foolhardy to ignore the financial gains, really.

Wilder and Fury have a common enemy, Anthony Joshua. Both fighters haven’t hidden their desire to have a piece of the undisputed heavyweight champion, he probably would never face both men within a year. So Joshua offered a lifeline that benefits everyone involved, a matchup against the winner.

When Tyson Fury defeated Vladimir Klitschko, the WBC wasn’t on the line. Vladimir never had it, his brother Vitali always did and both men never crossed paths. Deontay Wilder took it off Bernier Stiverne the only chance he got and has never lost it.

For wilder, here lies the opportunity of a lifetime. It took Tyson Fury two years and a couple of rejections to get a look in with Vladimir Klitschko, and Anthony Joshua wasn’t going to settle for a cheap fight against Deontay Wilder just to please the public anyway, but Tyson Fury will pick anyone and fight anywhere just to get his gypsy on.

On Saturday, both men will put their unbeaten reputation built over 10 years on the line for the ultimate price: Anthony Joshua and a chance to unify the heavyweight division.