As undefeated heavyweight giants Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury prepare to go head-to-head in tonight’s WBC title bout in Los Angeles’ Staples Center, many have described the fight as being a trade off between Wilder’s power and Fury’s unorthodox style, which combines unpredictable movement and being difficult to hit.
It is an intriguing contest that is difficult to predict, with the deciding factor in many people’s verdict being the fact that Fury has been largely inactive since winning the unified heavyweight crown from Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015.
Wilder has 39 knockouts from 40 fights and is feared for his power throughout the division and four former opponents have described how it feels to be hit by him.
Olympic gold medal winner and former world title contender Audley Harrison was knocked out in the first round of their 2013 contest, which was Harrison’s last.
He said to the Daily Mail: “Hard as nails. I had him in camp for sparring a year before we fought and he was over for about five weeks to prepare me for David Price.
“He almost had my eye out in sparring one day — he caught me with this shot and it nearly detached my retina and suddenly I had to stop training for eight or nine days.
“Aside from the power, Wilder is unique. He is very tall, very fast and very unorthodox in how he moves — you cannot pin him down.
“He can actually be quite ungainly but he is effective because he has that explosive hand speed. His punches come at you so fast — when the right hand caught me that ended the fight, I didn’t even see it coming. The punch came at such an unusual angle and so fast there was no getting out the way.
“One thing people don’t usually say about him and they should is that his jab is very good. But that right hand is the thing.
“Any fight you get knocked out you have a headache the next day and I did after that fight.
“It was actually the last fight I had before retiring but it wasn’t just because I lost."
Malik Scott has had 38 wins from 42 fights, and his only other defeats have come against heavyweight title contender Dereck Chisora and Luis Ortiz, who Wilder stopped in his last fight.
Malik was stopped in the first round of his 2014 contest with Wilder.
“Deontay is very unorthodox, has huge power, more agility than most and is probably the fastest heavyweight on the planet. And he is mean — really mean.
“I have boxed with Deontay 10 years — sparring and in our fight — and his skill is underrated. People don’t want to believe he is this good, but believe me, he is.
“When we fought he caught me on the temple with a left hook and then a right down the middle. People say they weren’t clean hits but he has that power to put you on the ground.
“In the ring he is a hard guy to predict. He can box but he can go berserk, go wild, you know.
“He goes beyond Mike Tyson in some ways — Tyson would sometimes let someone take a clinch on him and take his time on them. Deontay doesn’t do that. He doesn’t let you waste the clock, he gets straight on you, tries to smash you.
"I remember David Haye saying once when he sparred Deontay that he had a headache 24 hours later. That’s what his punches do.
"Fury is very good. I have shared a ring with him so I will not downgrade him. I worry that he has not been active, though. I make this fight 70-30 to Wilder, and if Wilder fights Anthony Joshua, I’d go Wilder by KO."
Journeyman Jason Gavern was Wilder’s 32nd opponent when he took a fight against him at six days' notice in 2014, and he lasted a little longer, making the fouth round.
“I took that fight on only six days’ notice and it was a few months before he fought Bermane Stiverne for the world title so I think his intention was to get rounds instead of another quick knockout.
“He was actually pretty clumsy in his style. He falls in a bit on his punches, his balance isn’t great, so technically he is not right up there. But he had really good range from those long arms and his power makes up for his mistakes.
“He got me down a couple of times in that fourth round and I remember thinking he had serious weight in those punches.
“I stopped in my corner before the fifth. I have been in camp with Wilder a few times and I am not disputing his power, but I didn’t get too badly banged up by him. I am one of only two guys to have fought Anthony Joshua and Wilder and I would say Joshua was the better fighter of the two — he is more polished, has fought better opponents and hit harder.
“I think Wilder has been protected a bit. Fury has been out a long time and people write him off. But they never gave him a chance against Klitschko, did they?"
Johann Duhaupas has 37 wins from 42 fights and had only lost twice when he faced Wilder in 2015, and lasted 11 rounds.
“This was my first fight of this level and I was really impressed. I faced a boxer they were selling like the new Mike Tyson and who had knocked out all his opponents so it was enough to make me hesitate before accepting.
“His confidence in himself is his biggest strength. He has a big heart and of course a lot of punch — more than any opponent I ever met in combat or in sparring.
“There’s no question he is the hardest puncher in the division.
“His biggest weakness is his passion. He wants it all so he makes mistakes and exposes himself — he did it against me and he has shown that against Luis Ortiz and Eric Molina, but his power has always saved him."
While all four waxed lyrical about Wilder’s power, there was some agreement about his possible lack of technical ability and as Fury is notoriously difficult to hit, there could be a strong case for saying that Wilder will find it difficult to land his big shots.
This contrast of styles and other variables such as ‘will Fury be ready?’ or ‘has he been away too long?’ are what make this one of the most intriguing heavyweight contests for years.