|Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury|
|Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles Date: Saturday, 1 December (local) Time: From 04:00 GMT on Sunday, 2 December|
|Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app|
Tyson Fury says he has achieved one of the “best comebacks of all time” as he prepares to face Deontay Wilder in a bout labelled highly “significant” for British boxing.
The Briton, 30, says he must simply enjoy one of the “best days of my life” when he faces the WBC heavyweight champion on Saturday.
The Los Angeles bout comes less than six months after his return from a 30-month lay-off, during which he battled depression and accepted a backdated two-year ban from UK Anti-Doping.
At Friday’s weigh-in, Fury scaled 18st 4½lbs and will carry more than three stone into the ring than Wilder.
The American weighed just 15st 2½lbs. It was his lowest weight since his 2008 debut – a surprise given in recent weeks he made a point of stating his 214lbs mark in his last bout came after a dire camp during which he had been unwell.
Speaking to BBC Sport about his boxing return, Fury said: “I don’t remember a bigger comeback ever, someone coming from further away.
“I don’t believe someone has gone up to 28 stone, lost all that weight, come back. I don’t remember people suffering with all the problems I suffered with. So it ranks up there with the best comebacks of all time.
“The most important thing for me to do on Saturday is have fun. It’s a great part of my life and I’ll look back on it in time and think: do you know what, they were the best days of my life.”
The bout will take place at around 04:30 BST on Sunday morning, with commentary on BBC Radio 5 live.
But is Fury fighting fit? Has his team given away a surprise tactic? And who are the BBC pundits picking? These are the talking points.
Fit, fighting fit and ring anxiety
More than one taxi driver has told BBC Sport’s team in Los Angeles that they became aware of Fury upon reading of his 10st weight loss in around 12 months.
But his team plotted 18 months before a fight of such magnitude would be entertained, meaning he only has two routine wins to his name since June.
“You can spar or train but he hasn’t been put under pressure,” said former world middleweight champion Andy Lee, who will be part of BBC Radio 5 live’s commentary team.
“He will have to deal with that internal anxiety moving around the ring, trying to slip, box and set himself. That’s the biggest doubt.”
A ketogenic diet – boasting low carbohydrate intake – and countless 250kg deadlifts were features of Fury’s transformation, but has he maintained the slick style which saw him beat Wladimir Klitschko to become a world champion in 2015?
“You only have to be half an inch wrong and the punches that were flying past your face are landing,” said BBC Sport boxing correspondent Mike Costello. “I’ve always felt there is a big difference between general fitness and boxing fitness.”
Fury’s trick to pick apart puncher
American Wilder says he will administer a “brutal knockout” of his rival at the Staples Center – home of Los Angeles’ NBA outfits the Lakers and Clippers.
With 39 knockouts from 40 bouts, the 33-year-old has power which makes him possibly the “greatest puncher of all time” according to Fury.
Abel Sanchez – trainer of Gennady Glolovkin – will also be part of Radio 5 live’s commentary team and believes “there’s not a man out there that can take a right hand from Deontay”.
But such power means Wilder’s craft and pedigree as a 2008 Olympic bronze medallist has been “all too easily dismissed” according to Costello.
There are rumours Fury will switch from his preferred right-handed orthodox stance to southpaw – as he did against Dereck Chisora in 2014 – in order to flummox Wilder.
Decorated trainer Freddie Roach, who Fury has hired as his cut man, told BBC Sport: “I’ve watched two films of Wilder facing southpaws and he had trouble with both of them.”
BBC Radio 5 live analyst Steve Bunce added: “Roach told me that when Fury switches to southpaw it’s seamless, the opponents don’t even realise.”
Beards and the ‘Roach effect’
The presence of Roach in Fury’s corner led to theories the challenger’s 26-year-old trainer Ben Davison had been found wanting.
Roach, who has trained the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan, welcomed Team Fury to his Wildcard Boxing Gym when they turned their backs on a camp at altitude after four weeks.
Costello believes Roach’s greatest impact will be felt way before the ring walks given his experience of fight night protocols in the US. Roach had even inquired as to what length Fury’s beard could be before rules were broken, only for the fighter to shave it off.
“The Wilder camp see Roach as an act of desperation,” said Costello.
“The most important role he could play is what happens at rules meetings, bandage wraps, those things. He is so familiar with what goes on in America.
“Officials may have made it difficult for a young British trainer like Davison but they will be unlikely to do so with Roach stood before them.”
Lee, a former WBO world middleweight champion, added: “The Roach thing is a very wise move. There’s training and build-up but when it comes down to it and you’re in the trenches you want to know you trust the man 100% beside you. So it’s a huge night for Davison.”
Costello: Wilder. I just think the champion will find Fury in the second half of the fight.
Lee: This is one that can go any way but I will never doubt Fury and I am going for him on points.
Bunce: We will have a much better fight than anyone thinks. I can see Tyson in front and getting hurt. I arrived in LA thinking Tyson on points, now I have a dreadful feeling Wilder will find him, it may be late.
Sanchez: I’ve swayed both ways. It’s 50-50. As long as Tyson can avoid that right hand. If he doesn’t, he’s asleep for a couple of weeks. If that doesn’t happen I can see a decision, maybe even a draw.
AJ and the biggest rivalry in a generation
Wilder raged at Wednesday’s news conference, where an on-stage fracas between the pair and their teams broke out.
Consensus among media was that the emotions were genuine and there is indeed much riding on this for Wilder as a win would offer a colossal boost to his profile and perhaps enhance hopes of a shot at Anthony Joshua, who holds the three other belts at heavyweight.
Fury’s promoter Frank Warren said: “This is a big, significant moment in British boxing. We could end up with two Brits holding all four titles.”
Costello added: “There is potentially a three-way rivalry building here. That would produce the best heavyweight rivalry for a quarter of a century when Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe were around.
“It is highly likely that the winner of this fight will – maybe after a rematch – be facing Anthony Joshua at some stage in 2019.”
By around 06:00 GMT on Sunday morning the UK will know if Fury’s incredible return includes a fairytale moment. Wilder can perhaps – after 41 fights – land a win which would deliver the recognition he craves.
Join BBC Sport for a live text service and Radio 5 live for commentary. There is much to fight for.