TYSON FURY challenges WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder at Los Angeles’ Staples Center on Saturday night in a fight that has been years in the making.
Here, Press Association Sport revisits the timeline that brought these two undefeated heavyweights together.
Wilder outpoints Bermane Stiverne to win the WBC title and become the first of what was then the coming generation of heavyweights to begin taking the division into a new era. Stiverne had won the title that had been made vacant by Vitali Klitschko’s retirement, becoming the first world heavyweight champion outside of the dominant Klitschko brothers since David Haye lost to Wladimir in 2011, but it was the exciting Wilder who was seen as a potential long-term heir to their thrones.
Fury unexpectedly defeats Wladimir Klitschko in Germany, inflicting a great champion’s first defeat for 11 years and winning the IBF, WBA and WBO titles. His victory proved the beginning of the end for Klitschko, who has since retired, and put him on a collision course with Wilder, whose WBC title is the only one Fury has yet to win.
Fury travels to New York to be ringside for Wilder’s knockout victory over Artur Szpilka. Afterwards, he joins his fellow world heavyweight champion in the ring, where after shouting “Anytime, any place, anywhere”, they had to be separated, effectively enhancing Fury’s reputation on the American fight scene. Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson – involved in the last truly significant British-American world heavyweight title fight in 2002 – also happened to be ringside.
Fury vacates his WBO and WBA titles to focus on his struggles with mental health. He was ultimately inactive for over two-and-a-half years in which Wilder made several successful defences of his titles and Anthony Joshua claimed the three belts Fury once won from Klitschko. During a period in which he also admitted to taking cocaine, Fury’s weight increased to an estimated 27 stones – he later revealed taunts from Wilder motivated him to launch his comeback.
Wilder secures his most impressive victory by stopping Cuba’s Luis Ortiz and then speaks of his desire to fight Joshua. Despite Joshua beating Joseph Parker later that month, public and private attempts to make a Joshua-Wilder fight are unsuccessful, leaving Wilder seeking a high-profile opponent.
Fury announces his comeback under promoter Frank Warren.
In the first fight of his comeback, Fury stops the unremarkable Sefer Seferi in four rounds and is quickly scheduled to fight the similarly-little-known Francesco Pianeta two months later. Before the fight with Pianeta, and amid Joshua agreeing to defend his titles against Alexander Povetkin, Fury contacts Wilder directly to suggest he should be his next opponent.
Wilder travels to Belfast to be ringside for Fury’s points victory over Pianeta, having gatecrashed their weigh-in the day before, and joins him in the ring as they confirm they will fight. Fury’s ring entrance had been to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama, in tribute to Wilder, who was born in Tuscaloosa.
Amid interest from casinos in Las Vegas, the WBC heavyweight title fight between Wilder and Fury is officially confirmed for December 1 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.