Finally, after delays, disappointments and disputes one of the most eagerly awaited fights of the year is upon us. For all the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
More on the world heavyweight title fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder a little later but before attention switches to Las Vegas, BT Sport present a busy card from Birmingham with Brad Foster’s triple title showdown with Jason Cunningham the main attraction.
Foster has shot to the head of the British super bantamweight rankings over the past 18 months, defending the British and Commonwealth titles in impressive fashion. This weekend, Foster is aiming to rip away Cunningham’s European title.
“Do you know what, I think Brad’s one of the most underrated fighters we’ve had for years. This is a guy with hardly any professional experience who’s won the British title outright and the Commonwealth title and now he’s fighting for the European title. That’s some achievement and he’s done it with zero amateur background,” show promoter, Frank Warren, told 32Red.
Some fighters who turn over without a solid amateur career can achieve success through sheer determination but Foster isn’t all huff and puff. The unbeaten 23-year-old does have a relentless work ethic but he compliments it with a real touch of class. Foster might only have had 17 fights as a professional but if he can add the European title to his collection, the sky may well be the limit.
“He’s a good fighter and he’s so eager to learn,” Warren said. “He goes out looking for sparring and he just wants to be a fighter. I know his background was in kickboxing and he was very successful in that but he’s such a nice guy and wants to be the best he can be, wants to learn, and he’s doing everything he can do to get better.”
As well as British and Commonwealth champion, Ekko Essuman, Callum Johnson also appears this weekend. The light heavyweight exploded into action on BT in his customary exciting fashion in April but has been frustrated since with injury holding him back. He fights Server Ermulaev on Saturday night and will be keen to remind BT Sport viewers just why he is widely considered the most exciting of Britain’s talented light heavyweight crop. Lyndon Arthur and Anthony Yarde are still set to finally settle their differences before the end of the year so another destructive outing is important for the former world title challenger.
“We got Callum’s opponent sorted out last week. Callum’s been very patient. He got injured and that kept him out a few weeks ago when he was first supposed to be out but he’s out now and we’ve gotta keep him busy. He’s right in the mix and we’re gonna keep him in there. Listen, he’s one of the most exciting guys out there. He’s willing to fight absolutely anybody.”
WBO world champion, Joe Smith Jnr, remains the target and there have been tentative but positive signs.
“I think Joe’s been injured or suffering with COVID but I was speaking to Joe La Guardia (his manager) a few weeks ago and he said he’d love to fight.”
Once the action concludes in Birmingham, the eyes of the boxing world will focus on Las Vegas and the long delayed heavyweight rubber match between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. The first two fights have been filled with drama and incident and the stage is set for the most exiting fight of the trilogy. After the thrilling draw the pair fought out back in December 2018 and the one sided beating Fury inflicted on him 18 months ago, Wilder must know that his only real route to victory involves landing that concussive right hand, whatever the cost.
“I can’t in a million years see him outboxing him and Tyson’s got faster hands than him but he’s a dangerous sod and that’s all he can do. If he wants his title back he’s got to do what Anthony Joshua didn’t do [against Oleksandr Usyk]. He’s got to walk forward and throw bombs and if he does do that I think you’re gonna see something a bit spectacular,” Warren said.
“I’ve always said the way to beat Wilder – and I said it to Tyson when we made the first fight – you’ve gotta get him going backwards. He likes coming forward and throwing his shots so you’ve gotta back him up. He’s dangerous as we saw in that first fight – in fact, as we’ve seen in almost all of his fights – and if he catches you you’re in real trouble.
“I think it’s the most dangerous [of the three fights] and it’ll be the most exciting. Wilder has to play to his strengths and his strength is his power. He’s gonna have to come and throw shots. If he is throwing bombs he’s gonna leave himself open to the counter. I don’t see Tyson backing off from him that’s for sure. He didn’t even back off him when he got in trouble in the last round of the first fight.”
Fury and Wilder are the two most unpredictable and combustible fighters in the heavyweight division. For the vast majority of fans, the outcome of the fight depends almost entirely on which version of Fury enters the ring at the MGM Grand this weekend. Will Fury be keen to prove himself the main man after Joshua’s defeat to Usyk or will Fury’s motivation have been damaged after seeing the biggest fight – and payday – in British boxing history evaporate. We will soon find out.
“I spoke to him during the Joshua fight. We were texting. He was obviously very disappointed, as I was. We wanted Joshua to win and for Tyson to come through. He was gutted but he can’t afford to be complacent. Complacency is the only thing that will beat him. I think the only person who can beat Tyson at this stage of his career is Tyson himself. He’s gotta be right on the money and he’s gotta be very focused. He’s gotta do his job and we all know he’s more than capable of doing that.
“He was down last Saturday but before that he’s been in a really good place. He obviously had the time in hospital with his daughter but thank God they came through that. Physically he’s fit but most of the stuff with Tyson is mental and mentally he’s been in a good place.
“I think the WBC might end up telling him he’s gotta fight Dillian Whyte [should he beat Wilder] but do you know what? That’s a big fight for over here.”