One of the biggest heavyweight title fights in decades will land on BT Sport Box Office HD on February 22 as Tyson Fury travels stateside for a long-awaited rematch against the hard-hitting WBC champion Deontay Wilder.
Almost 15 months since the British boxer was denied a historic victory against Wilder in Los Angeles, the pair will run it back at Las Vegas’ iconic MGM Grand Arena, desperate for a more definitive conclusion to their rivalry than another hotly-disputed draw.
An immediate rematch of that contentious encounter in December 2018 was top of every boxing fan’s wish list for the following year but instead, both fighters elected to take the scenic route in building towards another meeting.
Wilder defended the famous green-and-gold strap twice during a satisfactory 2019, flattening Dominic Breazeale inside a round before clobbering Luis Ortiz in a fight the 34-year-old had failed to win any of the previous seven rounds.
Fury, meanwhile, has had an equally eventful time of it.
In June, the self-styled Gypsy King blew unbeaten German Tom Schwarz away in two rounds before September saw him struggle unexpectedly against Sweden’s Otto Wallin.
In the third round, Fury was caught by a fairly innocuous short left hand that inflicted a horrifying two-inch gash above his right eye, forcing him to change tactics in fear of the fight being stopped.
Despite a scare in the 12th round, Fury endured – largely thanks to cutman Jorge Capetillo’s miraculous work – to secure a hard-fought victory but it had been feared the wound, which later required 47 stitches, could delay the prospect of a rematch against Wilder.
Thankfully this week’s announcement has put paid to any lingering doubts – but fans can certainly expect to see a different Tyson Fury on February 22.
In December, the former unified heavyweight champion announced his decision to part ways with trainer Ben Davison, teaming up with Kronk gym discipline Sugarhill Steward instead.
Steward, nephew to legendary trainer Emmanuel, first met Fury a decade ago when he trained at the Kronk gym as a sparring partner of Wladimir Klitschko and the duo have retained a close bond since.
Speaking to Seconds Out last month, Steward, revealed: “He’s always enjoyed the technical aspect of my training.
“That was pretty much the main thing he said he wanted. He doesn’t just want to throw punches, he wants to throw punches correctly. Those are actually things I saw from him fighting Wilder the first time as well.
“I just think about what Emanuel had to go through; now it’s my turn. I’m in the game now, happy to be able to perform.
“I love training, teaching, watching people grow and I’m excited to see Tyson progress through the training camp. He’s always positive with me, a ‘life of the party’ type of guy, so we’ll have a lot of positive energy in camp.”
The move will see Fury complete his camp at the Kronk facility in Detroit, Michigan, with former middleweight champion Andy Lee, a fellow Kronk alumni, also involved in the set up.
Speaking at the press conference announcing the rematch, Fury explained how he hoped the move would benefit his performance in the ring.
“I’m looking for a knockout. I didn’t come here again to get a bad decision. I know I’m not going to get a decision in the United States.
“After last time, it’s clear. That’s why I hired Sugarhill,” he explained.
“If I didn’t want a knockout, I wouldn’t have employed a Kronk trainer who specialises in sitting on your punches and landing a right hand. Look at all the Kronk fighters, Tommy Hearns, Klitschko even, they all look for that big right hand. That’s all I’m looking for, one big right hand to nail Deontay Wilder. Goodnight. There’s the game plan.
“If I wasn’t looking for a knockout, I would have kept Ben Davison, we would have sharpened up what we were doing. Herky-jerky, slipping and sliding. I ain’t looking for that. I ain’t coming here for a points decision… I’ve had plenty of them in my career. I’m looking for knockout number 21 – and that is brutally, from the heart, honest.”
The focus in any build up to a fight involving Wilder understandably centres on the Alabama man’s freakish power – and understandably so; Fury became only the second man to survive a 12th round against Wilder, who has 41 stoppage wins in 42 fights.
However, the 6ft 7ins bruiser has also demonstrated an impressive chin at points in his career, famously surviving an onslaught from Ortiz in 2018 before recovering to stop the veteran Cuban.
Against Fury, Wilder again ate some big shots – but this time around, the Brit promised to make the blows decisive.
“He thinks I’m going to come out herkin’ and jerkin’… I’m not looking for herky jerky. I want him to meet me dead in the centre of the ring and let’s have a slugfest. Best man stands up, loser goes down,” he continued.
“I’ve got 20 knockouts out of 29 wins. He knows he was rocked three or four times in that fight but I never had the gas to finish him, I’ll be honest. After the layoff, after all the weight loss, I never had the gas to put my foot down. This time I can turn that screwdriver until he’s gone. I want to meet him head on, mano-a-mano in the centre of the ring. Let’s make it a Tommy Hearns v Marvin Halger-type fight.
“I won’t be running. You won’t have to look anywhere for me. Just watch out for the right hands because you’re going to sleep in two rounds.”
Will February 22 witness the rebirth of a brick-fisted Tyson Fury – or is it all mind games from the master of mental warfare?
BT Sport Box Office HD is the only place to find out, with more details to follow on how to order this unmissable event.