Fury v Wilder 3: A timeline of the heavyweight rivalry's key moments so far
A rivalry that began in 2018 will come to a conclusion tonight
While heavyweight boxing has a rich history of scintillating rivalries, there are few that have entertained the audience like the one currently being witnessed between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.
Both fighters are a master of their trade: Fury is arguably one of the most technically gifted boxers that the sport has seen, whilst Wilder could easily be considered as the hardest puncher in the history of boxing.
It's probably one of the main reasons that fans are so engrossed with their rivalry, alongside the understandable interest in one of sports most motivational comebacks - courtesy of The Gypsy King.
After returning to boxing following a historic win against Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, Fury began his comeback with routine wins against Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta, before facing his first real test against the Bronze Bomber in 2018.
It was a drama-filled 12-round bout that was followed by a controversial verdict. While the fight itself delighted all who had watched on, the split-decision draw satisfied no one - but Fury did produce one of boxing's greatest moments during the fight.
The controversial draw was followed by a Fury masterclass in Las Vegas just under 15 months later, with Wilder not only losing his WBC title and his unbeaten record, but finding every possible excuse to explain his defeat.
Despite a convincing win from the Brit, Wilder won his case in court which allowed him to claim a rematch. Now, on October 9, their rivalry will finally see a conclusion with a trilogy showdown that promises to be another spectacle.
So, before the first bell rings, let's take a look back at the story of the rivalry so far…
The first press conference - 1 October 2018
If people were unsure what approach these two fighters were going to take to the bout, it very quickly became clear.
During one of their TV appearances, both Fury and Wilder had to be separated by security whilst the pair continued to shout verbals at one another.
The point when their rivalry really began to intensify was when Wilder shoved The Gypsy King during a press conference, which caused proceedings to turn physical.
Luckily, it didn't get to a point where the fight was in danger of being cancelled, but the scuffle in New York did see two security guards fall to the floor as they attempted to separate the fighters.
Fury fans have often praised his ability to get inside his opponents head, and it's certainly something the Brit prides himself on.
🔥 Deontay Wilder shoves Tyson Fury and a confrontation ensues as the pair go nose-to-nose at their first press conference.pic.twitter.com/rX95ylXc5z
— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) October 1, 2018
"I'm born ready," he shouted after the pushing and shoving had fizzled-out. Following the presser, he said: "That was a 10-8 round out there. I saw fear in his eye and his backside was flapping.
"He came here today to be cool, calm and collected to make a joke of things but I didn't come here to joke. I'm here to get in his mind and put it right on him and I've done it over three dates.
"I've won every single competition. The mind games are mine, I am the master of the mind."
Although it did have a soap opera feel to it, it certainly increased people's interest in the fight and most likely played a significant part in the 775,000-pay-per-view buys recorded.
How did he get up from that? - 1 December 2018
He knew he was out. Wilder knew he was out. Every boxing fan glued to their TV or watching live in Los Angles knew he was out.
After finding himself on the receiving end of a Bronze Bomber straight right and left hook combination, Fury hit the deck. Hard.
His comeback had been inspirational, but it looked as though going twelve rounds with Wilder was just a step too far, a bit too soon.
The American, understandably, thought he was about to win the bout, and began to celebrate inside the ring - lapping up the praise from his home crowd.
Then - out of absolutely nowhere - Fury shot up and somehow managed to get to his feet. It was an Undertaker-style rise-from-the-dead moment.
It was therefore expected that the 33-year-old would simply defend himself for the duration of the final round, yet, as Wilder began to swing his punches in an attempt to finish the Brit, Fury was able to compose himself and actually finished the round stronger.
Despite also being knocked down in the ninth round, Fury was able to use his size advantage against Wilder - who came into the fight at his lightest weight since his professional debut - and demonstrate his boxing IQ.
As the final bell rang, the two fighters stood in the centre of the ring as the scores were read out: 115-111 Wilder, 114-112 Fury, 113-113 draw.
Both Fury and Wilder felt that they had done enough to get the verdict in the aftermath, yet the result simply left everyone wanting more.
A rematch was therefore the obvious next step, but Fury received understandable praise for his ability to rise from what looked to be a fight-ending knockdown.
Following the fight, the Brit reflected to ESPN: "It was like being turned off like a light switch. I didn't feel any pain. There was no feeling. It was just on and off. That was it.
"I rose from the canvas like a Phoenix from the ashes and got back into it. He hit me with arguably the two best punches he has ever thrown in his career, and it didn't do any good. I just got back up."
The rematch - 22 February 2020
The pair added two more wins each to their career records to remain unbeaten ahead of the eventual rematch in February 2020. Fury also decided to work with SugarHill Steward for this fight, too.
The Brit - who came in considerably heavier than in the first bout - quickly began to assert his dominance and gain control of the fight.
He was relentless in his approach and got his reward in the third round, putting Wilder down courtesy of a huge right hand - the first time the American had been knocked down in either fight.
Fury had the Alabama native down once again, this time in the fifth round and thanks to a cleverly-worked body shot
Two rounds later, with Wilder wobbling around the ring, the American's co-trainer Mark Breland threw in the towel to spare his fighter any further punishment - a decision that, still to this day, Wilder is critical of.
"I just wish my corner would have let me go out on my shield - I'm a warrior and that's what I do," he said.
Fury delivered a boxing masterclass, and even managed to lick some blood from Wilder's neck during the sixth round...
"In a pre-fight interview I said I would taste Deontay Wilder's blood this time," Fury told ESPN.
"I had an opportunity in round six so I had to taste his blood to see what my prey would taste like.
"I was the hunter that night; I was the lion and he was the gazelle and I took him down."
Excuses, excuses - ongoing
If Wilder had come away from his loss, licked his wounds and admitted that he was beaten by a better man, a lot of people would've respected him.
However, that was the complete opposite approach to the one chosen by the Bronze Bomber, who began to list a number of ridiculous excuses for why he had lost.
It was funny at the start, but then it just became weird. His first 'reason' for why he suffered defeat was because of his elaborate ring-walk costume. He costume, made in honour of Black History Month, reportedly weighed 40-pounds and as a result, Wilder claimed it left him with "no legs" from the start.
Following this, he accused his now ex-trainer Mark Breland of spiking his water, arguing: "I told Jay, 'I believe Mark did something to my water'. I'm telling you brother, I know how I felt in that ring. That wasn't me. If people understood how I felt in that m**********r and what I was able to do, under all that pressure and s*** that was going on with me, man, they look at me today and salute me every time they see me.'"
This was far from the end, however, as he then alleged that Fury had put 'egg weights or similar' inside of his gloves, claiming: "I saw in the first fight when Ricky Hatton was pulling down your gloves to put your fist in the improper position," Wilder said.
"You tried the same method the second time but this time you scratched flesh out of my ears which caused them to bleed.
"It's impossible for a brand new 10oz glove to bend or to have loose space. I highly believe you had something hard in your glove, something the size and the shape of an egg-weight. It's the reason why the side of my face swelled up in an egg-weight form. And it left a dent in my face as well."
His excuses somehow kept going, as he also suggested that the Brit's fingernails caused his ears to bleed: "I haven't yet heard valid proof of how gloves flap all the way back, why your hands were in the middle of the glove, why did my ear have scratches deep inside my ear? Because of your (Fury's) nails," Wilder told Brian Custer on The Last Stand PodCast.
I had Tyson Fury rank his favorite Deontay Wilder excuses before the big fight Saturday pic.twitter.com/4ghPuQvqsA
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) October 8, 2021
As well as stating that, because of a bicep injury in the fight, he was unable to perform at his best, Wilder blamed referee Kenny Bayliss - suggesting that he favoured Fury.
"Bayless had come in my dressing room, looked me in my eyes and said if I hit Fury in the back of the head – a rabbit punch – or hit off of the break, he would disqualify me or deduct two points from me," said the American.
"I guess those rules just applied to me because they didn't apply to my opponent."
Understandably, people quickly began to ignore Wilder and his ludicrous claims, with both him and Fury seemingly moving on in opposite directions to continue their respective careers.
An unexpected trilogy - 18 May 2021
It appeared as though Fury would be taking on British rival Anthony Joshua in a lucrative showdown to find a new undisputed champion. The fight had reportedly been signed and fans began to get excited about one of the most highly-anticipated bouts in boxing history.
Then, completely out of nowhere (much like Fury's rise in the first fight), news broke that following an arbitration hearing, The Gypsy King had been ordered to fight Wilder due to the Bronze Bomber being contracted a rematch.
The trilogy fight was originally booked for July 24, but Fury tested positive for coronavirus in the build-up to the bout.
A new October date was set, but in the meantime, Joshua had suffered defeat at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk and lost his IBF, WBA and WBO belts.
Wilder's silent approach - 15 June 2021
Whilst the trilogy bout didn't need any additional promotion or hype from either Fury or Wilder, the latter certainly wasn't playing his part in 'hyping up' the fight.
During the first press conference, the usually loud Bronze Bomber refused to interact with the man who had previously outclassed him months earlier - sitting down with his headphones on, ignoring any Fury attempt to engage in conversation.
The Brit therefore had the press conference to himself and in typical Fury fashion, he delivered.
After being questioned why he didn't speak during the event, Wilder later explained: "I just mean business, I didn't come here to play around.
"I'm strictly business when it comes to this fight. I'll let him do the circus, let him promote it and do it.
"And see, can he hold up that end of the bargain? Because I don't think he can.
"He looked for me to entertain and he was like my partner in crime, I'm Batman, he's Robin.
"But now I’ll let him do his thing and see how entertaining he will be. It’s the same old, same old.
"I couldn’t hear nothing, I didn’t wanna (hear) nothing. It ain’t nothing for me to hear."
— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) October 5, 2021
Although fans weren't provided with the back-and-fourth they might've been hoping for in terms of verbal exchanges, the fighters did share a six-minute staredown at the end of the press conference.
Fury engaged in 'conversation' with Wilder's new trainer Malik Scott, but the former WBC heavyweight champions kept his headphones on throughout.
Fight night - 9 October 2021
After all the talking - or lack of, in Wilder's case - the date has finally arrived.
Despite, once again, there being no face-off at the recent weigh-in, it was interesting to see both Fury and Wilder come in at the heaviest of their professional careers.
Fury came in at 277lbs (19st 11lb), which is five pounds heavier than he weighed in his triumph in February 2020.
His opponent came in at 17st (238lb) - half a stone heavier than in the previous bout.
Although Fury is heavy favourite coming in to the fight, Wilder will always have a chance because of his frightening power.
Nearly three years after their first fight, the Fury-Wilder rivalry will come to a conclusion tonight - with the T-Mobile Arena set to witness another spectacle courtesy of these amazingly engaging heavyweight fighters.