One of the most highly-anticipated fights in heavyweight boxing history wound up being not much of a fight at all, as Tyson Fury ran roughshod over Deontay Wilder for a resounding seventh-round TKO to claim the WBC title.
The rematch was expected to be a continuation of their December 2018 showdown where Fury skillfully boxed his way around Wilder’s tremendous power for much of the bout until a vicious 12th round knockdown salvaged the fight for "The Bronze Bomber" as it ended in a controversial split draw.
Instead, Fury immediately went on the attack and never took his foot off the gas in front of a raucous sold-out crowd of 15,816 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Wilder never found his rhythm, was knocked down in the third and fifth rounds and saw his corner toss in the towel in the seventh when it was clear that he was outgunned by Fury.
In the aftermath, social media lit up with suggestions that the man, who amassed a record of 42-0-1 with 41 knockouts before stepping into the ring with Fury, was exposed in the rematch.
To be exposed, one would have to find a hidden secret to defeat Wilder and roll out a blueprint for future opponents. The problem with that train of thought is that everyone knew Wilder’s game plan but nobody had been able to stop him from executing it. For example, everyone knew the 1985 Chicago Bears touted a brutal rushing attack — led by Walter Payton — and a suffocating defense. Nobody was surprised as they drilled the league for a 15-1 regular-season record and a Super Bowl championship. Every single game was simply a matter of when their opponents would wear down. The only way to stop the Bears was to be better than them. And nobody could stop them — except for the Miami Dolphins.
That Dolphins team put up 38 points against a Bears team that was without starting quarterback Jim McMahon and seemingly caught every break humanly possible to hand the Bears their only loss of the season.
Middle linebacker Mike Singletary would go on to say the following:
“Well, needless to say, there was something different about that game, and there were some things happen that night, that were really strange. I mean balls ricocheting off guys heads and flying into receivers hands. You couldn't buy a break, it was like a nightmare, when something is happening and you’re in the middle of it, and you’re thinking this can’t be happening, please let this be a dream.”
The Bears weren’t exposed. They just lost to a better team on that day that happened to have a few things break their way. After the loss, the Bears stomped a mudhole in the rest of the league – including a pair of playoff shutouts – and raised the Vince Lombardi trophy with a 46-10 drubbing of the New England Patriots.
Nothing really changed. The Bears didn’t attempt to become a passing juggernaut nor did they change much of their defensive scheme. What they had worked and no other team could stop them.
For the first 40 fights of his professional career, everyone knew exactly what Deontay Wilder was going to bring to the table. It was the job of his opponents to stay conscious for the duration of the fight and hope to see a favorable scorecard. As Wilder’s record suggests, it wasn’t an easy task. And as time went on, Wilder only sharpened his offensive toolset. He worked on setting up his right hand a little better and found ways to mask it behind his jab. But the foundation remained the same. The flaws were visible, but nobody could expose them.
By the time he stepped into the ring for the first fight with Tyson Fury, there was no opponent that Wilder hadn’t violently sat down. "The Bronze Bomber" was comfortable giving away rounds because, eventually, that right hand would land and the lights would be turned off.
But Fury was different.
Unlike all of Wilder’s previous opponents, Fury was tall at 6’9” and as skilled as a slick boxing welterweight in the body of a colossus. And the most important part of the equation was that Fury could take a punch. Like most of Wilder’s opposition to that point, Fury boxed well and managed to stay away from the giant right hand. During the 12th round of their first fight, he ate a blistering combination that would have ended just about every human being on the planet. Not Fury. He survived and took the fight back to Wilder as the bout ended in a split draw.
There was no blueprint laid in their first fight that another opponent could duplicate. Dominic Breazeale met his demise in just over two minutes when Wilder detonated his right hand in violent fashion. Luis Ortiz boxed beautifully for six and a half rounds until he saw his life flash before his eyes when Wilder crushed him with a right hand. Neither opponent had the combination of size, speed and skill to thwart Wilder.
Except for Tyson Fury.
The highly-anticipated rematch saw Fury deploy a different strategy as he hunted Wilder from the opening bell until he masterfully completed his task and forced the seventh-round stoppage. People who said that Fury exposed Wilder are missing a very significant point of contention where you can’t expose what is already laid in plain sight. Up until the Fury fight, Wilder’s Plan A always worked. There may have been a slight tweak here and there to ensure the success, but it was completely obvious.
The other end of this concept of Wilder being exposed is the idea that there are other heavyweights who can execute this plan as Fury did.
Spoiler Alert: There aren’t any.
The unique combination of physical and mental attributes that Fury possesses is what makes him special and no other boxer will be able to duplicate that particular performance. Fury is a nearly 300-pound giant whose boxing ability is absolutely phenomenal, but also knows how to use his size to his advantage. And his chin is formidable as Fort Knox.
A fighter like Andy Ruiz Jr. may have the exceptional chin and ability to press forward, but he lacks the height, reach and defensive skills to deploy the Fury blueprint. Anthony Joshua certainly has the size and power but there are questions about his chin and defense. The list goes on and on. Until another fighter is successful with Fury’s blueprint, it is foolish to say Wilder was exposed.
Simply put, Deontay Wilder was defeated by the better man on Feb. 22, 2020. If there is a third fight, will it yield the same results? Maybe. Maybe not. Wilder still possesses the great equalizer and it is absolutely possible that he refines his craft just enough to find a home for that right hand before Fury can settle into his groove.
There is no cheat code to defeat Wilder that Fury pulled back the curtain on. That would be downplaying just how damn good of a boxer "The Gypsy King" is.
Wilder came up short against a generational talent, but exposed simply doesn’t apply.