The most anticipated heavyweight championship bout in quite some time takes place tonight between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. In addition to what this fight could do for the sport and the division, it means everything for Wilder.
Wilder is 40-0, and wait for it, 39 of those wins have come via knockout. I have written several times about what needs to happen in order for the sport to get to where it should be at and can be at. One of them is to introduce to the world the closest thing to Mike Tyson we have seen. Wilder has all the tools to be that must-see fighter who forces you stop what you are doing and watch. What has been holding him back is the lack of exposure and real competition.
Tonight he is in for the biggest challenge of his career and it has huge ramifications going forward. If Wilder can not only defeat Fury but do it in the way he has been doing it, this will be the night he officially becomes a star. Wilder is one of the few active boxers in the world who has a chance to not only become a star, but a mainstream superstar due to both his style in the ring and his personality.
Not only will winning his showdown dramatically bolster his resume, it sets him up for a dream match against Anthony Joshua. That is the fight that would bring the heavyweight division back, and based on styles, could be an instant classic.
But with all the upside tonight holds for Wilder, it also holds much downside. As impressive as his career has been to this point, he lacks a win over any household name. If he cannot get it done against Fury, the question will be asked, “Did he just beat up on poor competition?”
A loss would also make a meeting with Joshua less interesting and likely.
Many times in sports it is just one game or one fight, that is not the case for Deontay Wilder tonight. Tonight is bigger.