Wilder, Fury ready to rumble in LA showdown

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Deontay Wilder shouts at Tyson Fury during the press conference ahead of their title fight in Los Angeles. (Reuters)
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Tyson Fury during the press conference in Los Angeles. (Reuters)
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Wilder and Fury face off in Los Angeles. (Reuters)
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Fury holds forth in Los Angeles. (Reuters)
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Promoter Frank Warren and Fury. (Reuters)
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Fury flexes. (AP Photo)
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Wilder focuses. (Reuters)
Updated 30 November 2018

Wilder, Fury ready to rumble in LA showdown

  • At the age of 33, Wilder has compiled an impressive record which includes 40 victories, no defeats, with 39 knockouts
  • Fury, the trash-talking Gypsy King is also unbeaten, with 27 wins from 27 fights, 19 inside the distance

LOS ANGELES: Deontay Wilder will aim to rekindle America’s love affair with heavyweight boxing on Saturday when he faces Britain’s Tyson Fury in a high-stakes showdown of undefeated fighters.
As the reigning World Boxing Council champion, Wilder is the latest custodian of a belt which has been worn by some of the heavyweight division’s most iconic names stretching back over more than 50 years.
Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson head the who’s who of Wilder’s predecessors, evoking an era when heavyweight boxing was an integral part of the US sporting landscape.
Yet as Wilder prepares for the eighth defense of a title he has held since 2015, he remains a virtual unknown.
At the age of 33, Wilder has compiled an impressive record which includes 40 victories, no defeats, with 39 knockouts.
But his unblemished record and undeniable punching power have yet to capture the imagination of American sports fans.
Even now, three years into his reign as champion, he is sometimes mistaken for NBA superstar LeBron James.
That could change on Saturday when the 6ft 7in Wilder faces off against Fury, the trash-talking “Gypsy King” who is also unbeaten, with 27 wins from 27 fights, 19 inside the distance.
For Wilder, Saturday’s fight at the Staples Center is an opportunity to announce himself to a significant audience.
It is the first time he is the feature attraction on a pay-per-view television card. An explosive display against Fury will burnish his box-office appeal.
“America has a mighty man in me,” Wilder boasted at an ill-tempered press conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday. “America has the baddest man on the planet.
“I put in the hard work to make it here. I’ve grinded and worked. There’s no way I’m going to let a man come from another country and take what I’ve been building.”
Victory for Wilder or Fury will thrust them to the front of the queue to face Britain’s Anthony Joshua, holder of the International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization heavyweight belts.
While several obstacles would need to be overcome before a money-spinning Joshua fight can happen, the clamour for a unification bout could become irresistible.
For Joshua’s eventual challenger to be Wilder, he must overcome the imposing 6ft 9in frame of Fury, a man on a mission who returned to the ring in April after a two-year absence following a battle with depression, drink and drug abuse.
Three years ago, Fury stunned the boxing world after defeating champion Wladimir Klitschko to claim the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO and lineal titles.
The high of that victory however was to be followed by a descent into despair. Fury, who was subsequently stripped of those belts amid two failed drug tests, recently revealed he had tried to commit suicide.
“I just wanted to die so bad, I gave up on life,” Fury said.
But with his demons overcome, and his license restored, Fury returned earlier this year, stopping Albanian journeyman Sefer Seferi after four rounds in April before outpointing little-known Francesco Pianeta in August.
Whether those two fights are adequate preparation for the challenge of Wilder remains to be seen.
While former heavyweight champions such as Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson believe Fury has the skill and power to overcome Wilder, other fighters fear the bout has come too early in his comeback.
“I’m always going to be rooting for the Union Jack,” said British heavyweight Dereck Chisora. “But I believe Fury has taken the fight too early...when he gets hit by Wilder, it’s goodnight.”
Fury, true to form, is having none of it.
“I’m going to box his face off,” Fury said. “On Saturday night, Deontay Wilder is going to be known as the guy who got knocked out by Tyson Fury,” added the Briton, gleefully mocking Wilder for his relatively low profile among US sports fans.
“He needs me. He’s made seven defenses but he’s still unknown in this country. I went down the street yesterday and asked 50 people if they knew who Deontay Wilder was and only two said they did, and they were boxing fans.”
Lewis and Holyfield, meanwhile, believe Fury’s chances of victory will hinge on his ability to take the fight into the later rounds while evading Wilder’s right hand.
Wilder, however, demonstrated he is more than capable of lasting over the distance with a gutsy 10th round knockout of the dangerous Cuban Luis Ortiz in March.
The American, who looked authentically angered by Fury in Wednesday’s face off, promised a brutal finish.
“I’m gonna beat his ass and then knock him out,” Wilder said. “I promise you this, he will go down. I don’t know when it’s coming. But it’s coming.”


Scenarios for a potential return of the Premier League

Updated 01 April 2020

Scenarios for a potential return of the Premier League

  • One option is for clubs to converge on a neutral location in which all remaining games are played behind closed doors

LONDON: English football's major stakeholders will meet on Friday to discuss their options to rescue a season derailed by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Premier League campaign has been postponed until at least April 30 because of the pandemic, but the chances of a return in May look bleak.

AFP Sport takes a closer look at the various scenarios that are likely to be considered in the talks over if and how to finish the season:

One option is for clubs to converge on a neutral location in which all remaining games are played behind closed doors, with only essential personnel and broadcasters allowed to attend.

There is believed to be growing support among clubs for this plan, with nine rounds of matches potentially in line to be staged in June and July.

Fixtures would reportedly be played in one or two locations in the Midlands and London.

That could mean players and coaches being quarantined away from their families in World Cup-style camps to avoid infection, with stadiums, hotels and training facilities undergoing a deep clean.

A radical upturn in testing for the virus in the UK over the next two months is the key to this plan for a number of reasons.

Firstly, to ease players' concerns of contracting COVID-19 while playing, but also to avoid criticism of privileged professional players being tested with mild or no symptoms if that is not available to the general public and in particular frontline workers.

FASTFACT

Given the massive impact of the virus on society in general, it is seen in some quarters as morally inappropriate for football to return too soon.

If the curve of cases is not significantly flattened come the summer the optics for the Premier League to have medical officials at nonessential events would also not be good.

Given the massive impact of the virus on society in general, it is seen in some quarters as morally inappropriate for football to return too soon.

Instead of rushing back to action, waiting until the virus is completely under control before play resumes is the preferred strategy in this scenario.

With the virus reportedly set to peak in the UK in June, that could mean remaining in sporting lockdown until August or September.

Waiting would allow the current season to be completed in full, ensuring the Premier League does not have to repay an estimated £750 million ($930 million, € 842 million) to television companies for breach of contract.

But it would have a huge knock-on effect for next season, potentially leading to a shortened schedule in 2020-21 in a bid to be ready for the delayed European Championship.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane believes the campaign should be canceled if it cannot be finished by the end of June.

"Playing into July or August and pushing next season back, I don't see too much benefit in that," Kane said.

"Probably the limit for me is the end of June. If the season's not completed by the end of June we need to look at the options and just look forward to next season."

In what would be the worst-case scenario for the Premier League, some clubs reportedly want to abandon the current season immediately.

Senior figures in English club football believe there is "no place for sport at the moment,"  according to a recent report in the Athletic.

FA chairman Greg Clarke reportedly told the Premier League earlier this month he does not believe the season will be completed.

Declaring the season over could trigger legal action from a host of clubs, regardless of whether or not the standings are allowed
to count.

Liverpool need only two more wins to confirm their first league title since 1990 and hold a 25-point lead over Manchester City.

Canceling the season would scupper their hopes of ending a 30-year title drought, unless it was agreed to declare them champions anyway.

Manchester United, Wolves, Sheffield United and Tottenham, all currently outside the top four, would surely claim they had been unfairly been denied a chance of Champions League qualification.

Aston Villa would be relegated along with Norwich and Bournemouth, but Dean Smith's team would point to the game in hand that would lift them above Watford to safety if they won it.

In the Championship, the current top two are Leeds and West Bromwich Albion and they would be furious if a 'null and void' ruling robbed them of a lucrative promotion.