If the fight between heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder and lineal world champion Tyson Fury is anything close to as entertaining as the 25-minute show they put on Tuesday afternoon, we're all in for a treat.
Wilder and Fury were in full sell mode when they came nose to nose -- several times -- during the second stop of their three-city media tour on the deck of the retired aircraft carrier Intrepid, which is now a sea, air and space museum in Manhattan but on Tuesday hosted a carnival.
Wilder and Fury kicked off the tour in London on Monday and will be in Los Angeles for the third stop Wednesday as they promote their Showtime PPV showdown on Dec. 1 at Staples Center in L.A.
It is the first pay-per-view fight for both of them, and the more they sell, the more cash they'll make, so it has been sell, sell, sell. Even if these two didn't have larger-than-life personalities, it's an intriguing fight.
They are both massive men -- Fury is 6-foot-9 and Wilder is 6-7 -- with contrasting styles. Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) is a straight bomber with the best right hand in boxing that has been largely responsible for some of the most devastating knockouts in recent history. Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) isn't that kind of big hitter, but he's a very good boxer, has fast hands and is light on his feet even if he's about 260 pounds to Wilder's 220.
They also are undefeated with claims to the title, Wilder with his alphabet belt that he has defended seven times (all by knockout) and Fury with his stature as the man, who beat the man (Wladimir Klitschko) to win the lineal title and three major titles that were ultimately stripped from him. One was taken away because he agreed to a rematch with Klitschko rather than face a mandatory challenger. The other two went bye-bye when he failed two drug tests for cocaine, forcing the Klitschko rematch to be canceled as Fury's life went into a downward spiral.
He was hooked on drugs and alcohol and said he had mental health issues. It all led to a 31-month layoff before his June return. He has won two tune-up fights against lesser opposition and now is jumping into a huge fight even though there are some on his team who would have liked to see him take another tune-up fight or two first.
But England's Fury, 30, couldn't resist the lure of a big-time fight and gave Wilder exactly what he wanted after Anthony Joshua, who holds the other three major belts, refused to finalize a deal to fight Wilder, 32, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, this fall.
Their two-man show on stage at the Intrepid was filled with rants and threats of brutal knockouts along with several literal nose-to-nose confrontations and a dose of good humor.
Unlike last year's media tour to promote the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor novelty fight, in which they sunk as low as they could go with their X-rated language, homophobic remarks, insults with racial overtones and constant misogynistic comments, Wilder and Fury kept is mostly clean and amusing.
The truth is Wilder and Fury like each other. A lot. If their handlers are truthful, they will tell you that. When Fury was going through his dark period, Wilder personally reached out to him to offer him support. Fury appreciated it. They also have respect for each other because each is willing to fight the other, unlike Joshua.
So while they were at their obnoxious, over-the-top best Tuesday, there was also never a feeling that they would actually hit each other or cause chaos or that there is any genuine hatred. They talked tough, but it appeared they did so with a twinkle in their eye.
Make no mistake -- each man wants to win very badly. There is a lot at stake and boxing is a serious business. Either could get hurt in the fight, but the buildup was for show and they did a helluva job making folks want to spend their dough on the pay-per-view.
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They each were introduced to kick off the festivities by a marching band and immediately got in each other's face. And from there it was on.
Lou DiBella, Wilder's promoter, and Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza made brief remarks, but the fans and media wanted to hear from the main men and Wilder got things going, telling Fury, "I promise you I'm gonna knock out the 'Gypsy King.' Timmmmbbberrrr!"
Fury, pacing the stage, had his say once Wilder returned to his seat.
"Even Deontay Wilder knows to sit down in the presence of greatness. And why am I going to beat this bum? Because he can't box, that's why," Fury said. "He's a big swinger. OK, he's knocked a few bums out but really he's got 40 fights -- 35 of them have been against total tomato cans who can't fight back. So he's really got five fights. So if he thinks a five-fight novice is going to land one of those big swinging windmills on my chin, he can think again.
"After he feels the power and a few stiff jabs in the face, his ass is going to fall out. This is what's going to happen. And around round five or six, I'm going to start landing the overhand right and going downstairs to the body. And then around eight, nine, 10, the championship rounds, then it's welcome to my world. He's only been 12 rounds once in his career, and I've been 12 rounds championship distance many, many times."
Fury alluded to his personal issues that kept him idle for so long.
"I beat so, so many problems," he said. "How am I going to let this little skinny, spaghetti noodle man beat me? How am I gonna do that? They don't call me the Gypsy King for nothing," he said in his raspy voice. "I didn't come to New York or Los Angeles and all these press conferences to be embarrassed by this little skinny runt."
Then he looked right at Wilder and said, "I'm gonna knock him spark, spark out. And when he's on the floor I'm gonna look over him and say, 'You got knocked the f--- out, man!' And that's how I beat him."
Wilder is as good on the mic as Fury is and mentioned Fury's dark times but didn't mock him.
"I'm the one that brought him back," Wilder said. "I'm the one who encouraged him when he was in a dark place. [I said], 'Come back, get in shape, you can do it. I dare you.' I dared him to come back for this very moment. I want him to have confidence and I want him to have high energy. As you can see, that's nerves. It's all nerves because he knows what's gonna happen. He knows he's getting his face smashed in. He knows his body is going to be on the pavement. Let him burn off that energy."
"Only in your dreams," Fury shot back, later referencing Wilder's claim that he was nervous with, "This little skinny man makes me so nervous!"
Fury continued, "I'm a big, fat, bald-headed, bearded man who can fight. We all know I'm the master of disaster. We all know I've got a fat stomach but let me tell you, it's gonna look worse to you when a fat man beats you."
And with that they were nose to nose again.
"This is not a game," Wilder said, right in Fury's face. "You can talk the talk but there's going to be a point in time where you are going to have to show some actions. And when you do, I'm gonna spark you out, baby!"
They were so close that Fury broke the tension by asking Wilder for a kiss.
"I promise I'm gonna knock you out," Wilder responded as they were literally touching noses.
This particular nose-to-nose portion of the show went on for more than one full minute as the crowd went crazy.
"I guarantee 1 million percent he can't even land a punch," Fury said. "I'm gonna make this bum quit. I'm gonna show him what it's like to fight a real man, a real champion. You all know he works for me; he carries my bags around."
Fury called Wilder an "ugly little rat" and Wilder gave it right back to him with "the more you talk, the more you make it worse for you. I can't wait to see your body shaking. I can't wait to see your leg shaking. I promise you I will knock you out."
And with that the show ended having served its purpose to get fans hyped for one of the biggest heavyweight title fights in years. Now it's on to Los Angeles, where they'll sing for their supper again on Wednesday.