(Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/e3/84/wilder-fury-knockdown-getty-ftr_ndt163ykil4i1lrevh7r2v7dt.jpg?t=2071120391&w=500&quality=80 Welcome to Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury — a fight between two loud personalities, one of them the “lineal” heavyweight champion of the world and the other the World Boxing Council heavyweight champ. They’re not great fighters, but they’re good ones.Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearWilder won a bronze medal on behalf of the United States at the 2008 Olympics and, prior to facing Fury, had fashioned a 40-0 professional ledger with 39 knockouts. He isn’t a “small” heavyweight, but at 6-7 and weighing in under 220 pounds, he’s a “light” heavyweight.After 10 years as a pro, Wilder is still a project. His technique is flawed. His footwork is clumsy. Some of his overhand rights misfire so far off the mark that boxing aficionados are inclined to smile at his awkwardness.People laughed at Rocky Marciano, too. Marciano couldn’t do this, and he couldn’t do that. But he could punch.It’s easy for an opponent to win rounds and look good against Wilder. Until the opponent gets knocked out. Wilder comes into fights in top condition. He lets his hands go. And he can punch.”The killer instinct I have, it’s natural-born,” Wilder says. “I deliver whether I’m mad at you or whether I’m happy. I can beat your ass and smile at the same time. There’s nothing like showing people so they believe it. I show people each and every time.”Fury, despite his size (he fights in the neighborhood of 260 pounds), is not a big puncher. Nor is he particularly well-conditioned. But his boxing skills and 85-inch reach make him difficult to fight. On Nov. 28, 2015, he decisioned an aging Wladimir Klitschko in a stultifyingly dull bout to claim the WBA, IBF, and WBO belts in addition to the “lineal” heavyweight crown. That brought Fury’s ring record to 25-0 with 18 knockouts. Then he self-destructed.MORE: The key moments that changed the ring walkFury’s trials and tribulations have been well-documented. He can be charming and has charisma. On good days, he can flip a switch in his head and transition back and forth between calm rational thinker and disturbed showman. On bad days, he has been psychotic.At the postfight press conference after beating Klitschko, Fury stated, “I am what I am. If people don’t like it, change the channel. That’s all I got to say. I will be dictated to by nobody. I’m the man. You don’t like it, change the station. You don’t like it, don’t take photos. You don’t like it, don’t print in your newspaper. Do I care? Not really.”One week later, he sparked controversy by posting a video on YouTube in which he opined, “I believe a woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on her back.”Then Fury sat for an interview with Oliver Holt of the Daily Mail in which he equated homosexuality with pedophilia and proclaimed, “Every time I stray away from the Lord’s word, I find emptiness and darkness. … The world is very evil out there, and people may think I am a lunatic or whatever or a Bible basher or an insane lunatic, but it’s very, very true. And if you believe in the Word, then you believe what I am saying. We live in an evil world. The devil is very strong at the minute. Very strong. I believe the end is near. … Just a little short few years, I reckon, away from being finished. …”I have been praying to God from being as small as I can remember. Always said my prayers at nighttime and that sort of stuff. I did believe in God. I believed in Jesus the Son, I believed in the Father and the Holy Spirit. All that sort of stuff. It’s OK believing. There are people out there who tell me that the devil doesn’t exit and demons don’t exist. But … there’s also people who practice exorcisms and casting demons out of people. That’s what they do for a living. Are they getting paid for something that’s totally ludicrous? Do they go to school and educate theirselves all their lives to do this for nothing? … Why are there so many priests and people of God and celibicism and all that sort of stuff and Buddhist monks who don’t talk forever? It can’t just be baloney, can it? … I may sound daft but I’m actually not daft when it comes to it. I know what’s going on out there.”On Dec. 9, 2015, the British Sports Journalists Association issued a statement condemning Fury’s equating homosexuality with pedophilia. The following day, in an interview with Sky Sports News, Fury denied that he was homophobic and proclaimed, “I wouldn’t be a very good Christian if I hated anybody, would I? If Jesus loves the world, I love the world. I can actually say that I have no hate for anybody. I haven’t any enemies, I don’t hate any race, color, creed, generation, nobody. …“My team is one of the most diverse teams amongst religions in the world of boxing. … Tyson Fury is uniting the world. Uniting Christians and Muslims in a time when everything is up in the air. We don’t hear about that, do we? We just hear about the comments that people want to twist and want to make me sound like I hate people, and that I hate the world. I love all of God’s children.”On April 27, 2016, Fury attended a kickoff press conference in Manchester, England, for a scheduled July 9 rematch against Klitschko. Then, on May 13, he sparked new controversy with a foul-mouthed 57-minute video rant filmed in training camp and shown on SportsView London in which he suggested that rape and bestiality would one day be legalized and also included anti-Semitic remarks:”It’s like you’re a freak of nature if you’re normal. You’re the odd one out. What’s normal? I’ll just get myself changed into a woman. That’s normal, isn’t it today? Call myself Tysina or something like that, put a wig on. I don’t think it’s normal. I think they’re freaks of nature. … Everyone just do what you can; listen to the government; follow everybody like sheep; be brainwashed by all the Zionist Jewish people who own all the banks, all the papers, all the TV stations. Be brainwashed by them all. …”I think it’ll be perfectly normal in the next 10 years to have sexual relationships with your animals at home. You know; your pets, your cats and dogs and all that. That will be legal. You are already allowed to marry your animals and stuff. It is going to happen, isn’t it? Whatever you can think of that’s bad will be made legal because that’s what the devil wants. They might start making it legal so that four or five men can grab a granny and rape her in public in front of kids and all that. Or grab an old man and rape him. … In the schools now, they’re asking the little kids at 5 and 6, do they want to be a boy or girl when they get older? What the f— is that?”One might add here that, shortly after the April 27 kickoff press conference for the Klitschko rematch, Fury was asked about Anthony Joshua by a reporter for iFL TV and answered, “I don’t hate Joshua. I don’t dislike him. I like the guy. He’s doing well. He’s got a good body. I bet he’s got a big c—. I wish I had it.” And during a May 30 interview with iFL TV, when asked about the possibility of fighting Joshua and Deontay Wilder, Fury responded, “I’ll let ’em fight me. I’ll bend ’em over and boom — split them down the middle with this long d—. I’ll rape Wilder over Joshua. Wilder’s my man.”On May 16, 2016, Fury apologized for his May 13 homophobic, anti-Semitic rant. “I apologise to anyone who may have taken offence at any of my comments,” a written statement issued in his name read. “I said some things which may have hurt some people, which as a Christian man is not something I would ever want to do. … I mean no harm or disrespect to anyone and I know more is expected of me as an ambassador of British boxing and I promise in future to hold myself up to the highest possible standard. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am in no way a racist or bigot, and I hope the public accept this apology.”Thereafter, Klitschko criticized Fury’s comments, saying, “I was in shock at his statements about women, the gay community, and then when he got to Jewish people, he sounded like Hitler. The man is an imbecile. … We have an imbecile champion. … In this crazy world, with everything that’s going on, we don’t need somebody having the stage and bringing hate to Jewish people. I cannot accept it. I won’t accept it. … Friction creates friction. The more hate you bring out there — with women, the gay community and Jewish people — what next is he going to say? … It’s just something we don’t need in this world, it’s beyond boxing.”On June 24, referencing his own Gypsy roots, Fury responded to Klitschko’s reference to Adolf Hitler with this declaration on Instagram, “Hitler killed hundreds of thousands of gypsies. … A lot of my ancestors were brutally mass-murdered by Hitler. For you to call me that is a very, very bad insult. Let’s not forget; your people, the Ukrainians, were the guards in the death camps where my people were slaughtered. … You stupid f—ing Ukrainian prick.”That same day, citing an “ankle injury” suffered in training, Fury announced that his July 9, 2016, rematch against Klitschko was postponed. The fight was rescheduled for Oct. 29, but on Sept. 12, Fury failed to attend the kickoff press conference, saying that his car had broken down.Then, on Sept. 23, Mick Hennessy, Fury’s promoter at the time, announced that Fury had been found “medically unfit to fight” and that “medical specialists have advised that the condition is too severe to allow him to participate in the rematch and that he will require treatment before going back into the ring.”By now, it was clear that Fury’s medical problems were psychological in nature. That was confirmed in an interview posted Oct. 4, 2016, on Rolling Stone’s site.”I’ve not been in a gym for months,” Fury acknowledged. “I’ve not been training. I’ve been going through depression. I just don’t want to live anymore, if you know what I’m saying. I’ve had total enough of it. … I’ve been pushed to the brink. I can’t take no more. I’m in a hospital at the moment. I’m seeing psychiatrists. They say I’ve got a version of bipolar. I’m a manic depressive. All from what they’ve done to me. All this s— through boxing, through taking titles, through writing me off. I beat the best man but I’m still s—. I used to love boxing when I was a kid. It was my life. All the way through, it was my life. You finally get to where you need to be and it becomes a big mess. And that’s it. I hate boxing now. I wouldn’t even go across the road to watch a world title fight. That’s what it’s done to me. I don’t even want to wake up. I hope I die every day. And that’s a bad thing to say when I’ve got three children and a lovely wife, isn’t it? But I don’t want to live anymore. If I could take me own life and I wasn’t a Christian, I’d take it in a second. I just hope someone kills me before I kill me self (or) I’ll have to spend eternity in hell. … I’m in a very bad place at the moment. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I don’t know if I’m going to see the year out to be honest. … I am seeing help, but they can’t do nothing for me. What I’ve got is incurable. … I don’t see a way out, I don’t even see a way of living for me, I don’t want to live anymore. It has brought me to the brink of death. That’s where I’m at at the moment.”The spotlight hasn’t always been kind to Deontay Wilder, either. There are times when he comes across as a decent man with an admirable work ethic. “My first job was working at Burger King,” Wilder reminisced earlier this year. “It was a low-paying job, but I made sure I was the best worker there. Anything I do, I want to be the best. It’s not about all those things that people get so wrapped up in their minds. Everyone got themselves so wrapped up into who making the most money and who got the most followers. It ain’t about that to me.”But Wilder has had several run-ins with the law, the most serious of which came in 2013 when he was arrested and charged with domestic battery by strangulation after an incident in a Las Vegas hotel room. According to the police report, the woman in question had a possible broken nose, swelling around her eyes, a cut lip and red marks on her neck. Wilder’s attorney later said that he was apologetic and had mistakenly thought the woman was planning to rob him. The matter was settled out of court.Then, on Feb. 3, 2017, heavyweight contender Dominic Breazeale posted a statement on Instagram that read, “I want to address the fact that Deontay Wilder and a mob of about 20 people unprovokedly attacked my team and my family in the [hotel] lobby last night [after a fight card in Birmingham, Ala.]. My coach and I were blindsided by sucker punches and my Team was assaulted as well, all in front my wife and kids. This cowardly attack has no place in boxing and believe me will not go unpunished.”Also part of the Deontay Wilder feel-good story was his image as a loving husband and father. Wilder and his wife, Jessica Scales-Wilder, had four children together. But in 2014, Wilder started dating reality-TV star Telli Smith, who he met at Los Angeles International Airport. Smith became pregnant in 2017 and, in December of that year, told People magazine, “It’s been a crazy journey. Deontay had baby fever, but I don’t want to be a typical baby mama. I want to get married.”Smith gave birth to a daughter on March 7, 2018. Deontay and Jessica are now divorced, but Deontay has not yet remarried.When it was time to set up the business end of Wilder-Fury, the fight was one of the easier high-profile matches to make. Both fighters wanted the bout. Wilder is an Al Haymon fighter with ties to Showtime in the United States. Fury is promoted by Frank Warren, who has a deal in the United Kingdom with BT Sport.MORE: The history of the mouthpiece in boxingBut first, Fury had to be rehabilitated in the ring and in the public mind. During a 30-month absence from boxing, his weight had ballooned to almost 400 pounds.Thus, it was decided that Fury’s first fight back would be on the undercard of Terry Flanagan vs. Maurice Hooker in Manchester on June 9, 2018, against Sefer Seferi (a 39-year-old Macedonian who Tyson outweighed by 66 pounds). After three sluggish rounds highlighted by a fight that broke out in the crowd during the third stanza, Seferi quit on his stool.Next, on Aug. 18, Fury lumbered to a 10-round decision over Francesco Pianeta on the undercard of Carl Frampton vs. Luke Jackson in Belfast. In Pianeta’s three most recent fights, he’d beaten Daso Simeunovic (a novice with one professional fight on his resume) and lost to Petar Milas and Kevin Johnson.Fury looked more fluid against Pianeta than he had against Seferi and he weighed 18 pounds less (258 vs. 276). But the flesh around his waist was jiggling. And while he won every minute of every round, he never noticeably hurt Pianeta.Fury wasn’t fully back. But given his proclivity for going off the rails, it made sense from a business point of view for him to fight Wilder sooner rather than later because “later” might mean “never.” On Sept. 21, it was announced that Wilder-Fury was a done deal and that the fight would be contested on Dec. 1 at a soon-to-be-chosen venue, later designated as Staples Center in Los Angeles.The kickoff press tour was a traveling circus with stops in London, New York, and Los Angeles. There was a lot of profanity (by both men), simulated masturbation onstage (Wilder), and in-your-face jawing.British boxing writer Tris Dixon summed up the promotion with the observation, “[Wilder-Fury] is unpredictable. It is wild. It is bonkers. It is loud and in your face. … It is the Vegas hooker under the neon lights to Joshua’s registry office wedding. It is a smash and grab, a heist. … The go-slow on the Fury comeback roller coaster has broken, the accelerator has come off in someone’s hand, and the ride is headed for the precipice. Will he hit the summit again or will he plummet at the Alabama man’s rock-like fists? We are passengers on this wild ride. Some will watch through their fingers. Some will wave their hands in the air, flying along with happy screams while promotional and broadcasting competitors might be reaching for the sick bags. But they’re still watching. We all are. We all will be.”Fury’s persona drove the promotion. It was odd that a fighter who’d been WBC heavyweight champion for three years and successfully defended his title seven times needed an opponent to raise his own profile. But that was the situation Wilder found himself in.”This fight means everything to me,” Wilder acknowledged. “This is my coming-out party.”Early numbers suggested that the pay-per-view telecast would do well in the United Kingdom but poorly in the United States. Staples Center can accommodate 20,000 fans for boxing. Ultimately, there was an announced attendance of 17,698, but that included a lot of freebies.The fight shaped up as boxer (Fury) vs. puncher (Wilder). Wilder opened as a 6-to-5 betting favorite. As fight night approached, the odds moved to 8-to-5.The case for a Wilder victory was obvious.Fury has boxing skills. But his handlers had kept him away from punchers throughout his career. The exception to that was his fight against Klitschko. But Klitschko, by that point, was a tentative puncher who was having trouble pulling the trigger.Wilder is not a tentative puncher. He pulls the trigger quickly and is dangerous at all timesFury, by his own acknowledgment, is mentally fragile. That’s never good in a fighter.Also, Fury was being trained for the Wilder fight by a 26-year-old novice named Ben Davison whose primary contribution, some said, was bringing his fighter down in weight to a respectable number.And most significantly, Fury’s years of self-destruction had been marked by drug abuse, alcohol abuse and a weight gain of more than 100 pounds. Could he sustain a championship-caliber effort against Wilder over the course of 12 hard rounds?People knew what to expect from Wilder. The unknown variable was Fury.”I am no challenger for no man,” Fury proclaimed at the Oct. 1 kickoff press conference in London. “I am the lineal heavyweight champion of the world. Nobody forced me to fight Deontay Wilder, I picked him because I believe he’s an easy touch. I will stand right in front of him and prove what I will do. I will punch his face seven days a week and twice on a Sunday. If we fought 30 times, I’d win 30 times.”Thereafter, Fury elaborated on that theme, saying, “Wilder has only one style: come forward and knock you out. If he doesn’t do that, he’s lost. … He’s got one way, one path. It’s all he knows. But he doesn’t have the ability to set up the knockout against me, doesn’t have the schooling.””You’re known for being clever, aren’t you?” Fury was asked during a Nov. 14 media conference call.”I don’t know about clever,” Fury answered. “If I was clever, I’d be a rocket scientist and not a boxer. But I have got the ability to see punches [and avoid them], which is a very good skill. I’ll be looking to avoid the knockout punches and land mine. Boxing is about hitting your opponent and not taking any in return. I don’t look at boxing like I’m going to hit you in the face and you’re going to hit me back because then I’d be a fool. … It’s my business to get out of the way.”Fury weighed in for the fight at a relatively soft 256 pounds; Wilder at 212 1/2 (the lightest Wilder had been since tipping the scales at 207 1/4 for his pro debut in 2008).Bart Barry summed up the proceedings as follows: “Wilder is a professional athlete who fights like he’s insane. Fury is an insane man who boxes conventionally. … For 36 minutes, absolutely nothing might happen. Fury is a good boxer but not much of a fight-night entertainer. Wilder is an entertainer but not much of a boxer. … Each man has the best chance of besting the other man by being himself. Wilder would be a fool to try boxing Fury, and Fury would be a greater fool if he tried to slug with Wilder. … How much fun it will be, how wickedly suspenseful, when the opening bell rings and you get to cheer for one loon or the other without much idea of what comes next.”When fight night arrived, the pay-per-view undercard consisted of three dreary mismatches. Then Wilder-Fury began. Slowly.Fury’s flesh jiggled a bit as he moved around the ring. He put his hands behind his back and stuck his tongue out at Wilder from time to time. Other than that, he didn’t do much for the first five rounds. He made Wilder miss but didn’t make him pay.There were times when Fury held his hands low and shook them in a herky-jerky motion that made him look like a character in a flickering old silent movie. Effective feints are one thing. A fighter jerking his hands around like they’re attached to a vibrator is another. It means the fighter’s hands are not in position to punch. A boxer more skilled than Wilder could have timed Tyson’s hand movement and taken advantage of it.Wilder went for the knockout with every punch. That’s the way he fights and it’s all he can do. The most noticeable punch missing from his arsenal was an effective jab to set up his right hand. The absence of that jab enabled Fury to keep the fight in the center of the ring where he wanted it for most of the night. Fury lay on his back, seemingly only barely conscious.Wilder shimmied to a neutral corner.”Credit to him,” Fury said afterward. “He caught me flush. But I got a good fighting spirit and I never say die. … I ain’t gonna lay down just because I got punched in the face and knocked down. I’m gonna get back up and fight. I’m not the lineal champion for nothing. … You can make two decisions on that floor: Stay down or get up. As long as there’s life left in this body, I’ll continue to fight.”Fury rose to his feet just before the count of 10, a heroic effort that evoked images of a barely conscious Larry Holmes climbing off the canvas against Earnie Shavers and Renaldo Snipes.Referee Jack Reiss let the fight continue.And Wilder couldn’t finish. Indeed, a minute later, Fury shook him with a clubbing right hand that had him holding on.The general consensus was that the fight was close with Fury having a slight edge. Alejandro Rochin of Mexico was off the mark with a 115-111 scorecard in Wilder’s favor. Robert Tapper (Canada) saw the contest 114-112 in favor of Fury. That left the deciding vote to Phil Edwards (United Kingdom), who scored the bout a 113-113 draw.All three judges awarded Fury Rounds 5, 10 and 11 and Wilder Rounds 1, 9 and 12 (the latter two by 10-8 margins). That gave Wilder a two-point cushion and left Rounds 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 up for grabs. Rochin scored four of those six rounds for Wilder. Tapper scored five of the six for Fury. Edwards scored four of the six for Fury.Asked about the decision at the postfight press conference, Fury responded, “I should have won the fight but I’m not gonna complain. It was what it was.” One day later, he was more voluble, saying, “Wilder got a gift decision in his home country. … To be honest with you, I’ve never seen a worse decision in my life. I don’t know what fight them judges were watching. … But it’s boxing. It ain’t the first time this has happened. You win some; you lose some; and in my case, you draw some.”As for what comes next; boxing arguably has three heavyweight champions at the moment. A champion keeps his title on a draw. Thus, Fury can still — and now credibly — claim that he’s the lineal heavyweight champion of the world. Wilder retained his WBC belt. And Joshua holds the WBA, IBF and WBO titles. Any mix and match amongst the three would be welcome in 2019.Who would win? Rock, paper, scissors. Styles make fights.MORE: Watch Canelo-Rocky on Dec. 15 free on DAZNIf Fury builds on what he accomplished in recent training and in the Wilder fight, he’ll be favored over Wilder the second time around. Will Fury go on an eating and drinking binge over the holidays, or will he maintain his condition?Joshua, because of his all-around ring skills and Fury’s lack of a big punch, would probably be favored over Fury. But Joshua’s chin is suspect; he gets hit too much, and Wilder can whack. Ergo, Wilder might be favored over Joshua.The contract for Wilder-Fury called for a rematch if Fury won. But he didn’t win; not on the judges’ scorecards. Now, ironically, Wilder probably has less leverage in negotiating for a fight against Joshua or a rematch against Fury than he did before. That’s because Fury and Joshua are the biggest-money alternatives for each other. Something good happened on Dec. 1. A big fight lived up to its billing.Two physically imposing men — one of them 6-9, the other two inches shorter — squared off in a boxing ring. There was a dramatic ebb and flow to the action with one of the men swinging for the fences with every punch. (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/86/2/wilder-fury-action-getty-ftr_5qc29qe78i0419xa53bdaql74.jpg?t=2071066903&w=500&quality=80 Meanwhile, Dec. 1 confirmed several often-repeated theories about Wilder: 1.) He has excellent power; 2.) His ring skills are limited; and 3.) He has heart. Again and again, boxing fans have seen a fighter go into the 12th round needing a big round to win and not going for it. Wilder never stopped trying. He never gave up. He went for it.Fury is also a fighter. “I was suffering from mental health problems,” he said the day after fighting Wilder. “When you give up the passion to live anymore, you’re in a bad place. I’m a well man now. Everything is good. I’m happy to be alive and healthy and well.”Thomas Hauser’s new email address is [email protected] His most recent book — “Protect Yourself at All Times” — was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. By the midway point, the fight was clearly moving in Fury’s favor. The area around Wilder’s left eye was swelling. Wilder was starting to look tentative. Fury was landing authoritative right hands. And when Wilder landed, Fury took the punches well. Also, it appeared as though Wilder rather than Fury was the fighter who was tiring.In Round 9, the tension escalated when Wilder dropped Fury with a right hand behind the ear. But in terms of the flow of the fight, it was an isolated moment. Fury rallied to win Rounds 10 and 11 on each judge’s scorecard.Round 12 was a time-capsule round. Less than a minute into the stanza, a right-hand-left-hook combination decked Fury for the second time in the bout. This time, unlike in Round 9, the fight appeared to be over.