WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury met face to face in Los Angeles on Monday to discuss their long-awaited rematch Feb. 22 in Las Vegas for the first time.
On Dec. 1, 2018, Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) and Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) fought to a disputed draw at Staples Center in Los Angeles. For long stretches of that bout, Fury's boxing skills riddled Wilder. But it was Wilder who scored knockdowns in the ninth and 12th rounds to salvage the draw and retain his title.
Fury claimed things would go differently this time.
"I won't be running, you won't have to look anywhere for me," he said. "Just watch out for the right hand, you're going to sleep in two rounds. Two rounds, he's going down.
"That's all I'm looking for -- one big right hand, nail Deontay Wilder, good night. That's the game plan."
They each fought twice in 2019, padding their records and doing their best to build interest in the rematch, which will be a joint pay-per-view between Fox and ESPN. Many believe the winner will hold the strongest claim to being the best big man in boxing.
Looking back at the first go-around, Wilder said Monday, "I came in with one arm, I broke my hand in camp. I only had 12 weeks and four days to train."
For this fight, he expects to be in much better physical condition after stopping Luis Ortiz in seven rounds Nov. 23.
"This time around I'm in full health, I've got both of my hands together, and with Deontay Wilder, I'm unstoppable. So you just don't know what's going to happen," said the native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who is prone to speaking in third person.
Wilder has impressed in rematches. Bermane Stiverne didn't make it out of the first round in his second bout with Wilder, and Ortiz lasted three less rounds than their initial bout.
"In rematches, I'm always better than I was the first time because of what I've seen in the ring and with what I've experienced with an opponent," he said. "So the second time around, the preparation is a little bit easier because we understand what they're trying to do.
"My IQ in the ring is very high. That's why I'm able to set guys up and get rid of them in devastating fashion."
Fury was amused by his rival's words.
"Deontay Wilder can make all the excuses he wants to make in his own brain," Fury said. "His team can tell him, 'You won that fight, baby, you won that fight.' Well listen, as a fighting man, you know when you win and lose fights. Simple as that, he lost the fight fair and square. He will lose the fight again, fair and square."
This time around, Fury promised that instead of flummoxing Wilder with his boxing acumen, he will be more than willing to stand and trade with one of the most devastating punchers in the game.
"This time it's going to be different," Fury said, "I want him to meet me at the center of the ring and let's have a slugfest. Best man stands up, the loser goes down. I've got 20 KOs out of 29 wins. He knows he was rocked three or four times in that fight, but I never had the guts to finish him."
Fury noted that after his long hiatus from the ring -- he was sidelined for 2½ years between his momentous victory over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 and then a pair of tune-up fights in 2018 -- that he was reluctant to try to really force the issue against Wilder.
"I want to meet him head on, mano a mano, center of the ring, let's make a Tommy Hearns-Marvin Hagler-type fight," said Fury, referencing the memorable 1985 contest that saw Hagler stop Hearns in three rounds.
For this bout, Fury is being prepared by Javan "Sugar" Hill, who replaces Ben Davison in his corner. Hill, the nephew of Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, was specifically brought in by Fury because of his association with the famous Kronk Gym and its proclivity for producing hard, right-handed punchers.
Wilder didn't appear fazed on Monday, and responded to Fury's claims that he would knock him out in the second round with amusement.
"Though he's saying it, I don't feel his energy that he believes it, that he's going to do that," Wilder said. "If anything, I feel he's nervous, he's very scared of what happened the first time."