One mistake. That is all it would take for Britain to lose a second world heavyweight champion in a fortnight.
Tyson Fury knows it as he heads for the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday for his third encounter with the atomic power of Deontay Wilder.
‘One mistake could be catastrophe,’ says the Gypsy King as he braces himself to avoid being dethroned here just two weeks after Anthony Joshua surrendered his titles to Oleksandr Usyk in London. He adds: ‘Fortunately I know all about his power. I experienced it in our first fight.
One mistake from Tyson Fury could see the heavyweight title out of British hands on Saturday
The Gypsy King ends his thrilling trilogy with arch rival Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas, Nevada
‘I’m on guard and in our second fight I proved I know how to beat him. Yes, he has the biggest punch in boxing history. But I’ve got the biggest balls.’
Wilder knows that as he bids to retrieve the WBC belt ripped from him 20 months ago. To his shock and awe he saw Fury rise from the unconscious after his second knockdown in fight one of this rare heavyweight trilogy, his first opponent to survive being rendered horizontal.
Intriguingly, Fury adds: ‘Deontay can knock out any man with a quarter of a punch.’
Close slow motion scrutiny of the 12th round flattening in Los Angeles suggests that the right-left combination which dropped the Mancunian giant was comprised of two glancing blows to the top of the head.
Fury is aware of the consequences that a lapse brings, having been floored by Wilder in 2018
So what happens if Wilder lands flush on the jaw? ‘I always get up,’ says Fury.
‘And this one will be over in no time. A quickie for me. I’ll have him out of there in two or three rounds.’
Both men claim to have used their pandemic-enforced hiatus from the ring to effect high-percentage improvements to their boxing. The time out has also allowed a lot of bad blood to boil.
Fury has made it vehemently clear to Wilder this week, in four-letter expletives, that he is not forgiven for accusing him of cheating to win fight two. ‘Watch out, you big dosser,’ he shouted. ‘I’m putting knuckle dusters in my gloves this time.’
In the face of Fury’s volcanic brand of showmanship, Wilder says: ‘I hate him. First opponent I’ve ever truly hated. The hate is giving me a really violent mindset. Be ready for war and blood.’
Wilder is out for revenge and revealed that he ‘hates’ Fury in the build up to their third fight
Wilder is adamant that his heavyweight rival cheated his way to victory back in February 2020
Fury reads nervousness into that, saying: ‘I have the fearlessness factor. That’s the difference between a champion and a great champion. Anyone can win a title on any given night. To be great you have to be fearless to keep going and going.
‘Nobody at this elite level is afraid. But if Wilder is a bit scared after the beat down I put on him in our first rematch, I hope he faces up to it in the ring and gets into the fight. We all want a better fight than he gave me last time, though it will be over quickly.
‘Wilder talks about blood. That’s what we fight for. Blood money, and I have earned every penny. Me, lucky? Hell, no. Every one of those pennies has been taken out of my blood, face and body. The trauma, the punches to head and body all take their toll. However many millions fighters earn in combat, fighting for our lives, they deserve a million times more.’
But the Bronze Bomber will have to come up with something new if he is to dethrone the king
Both will be a few million dollars richer come Sunday morning but that is not what Wilder, in his hatred, is seeking. He says: ‘I want to hurt him. To beat him up for a few rounds before I knock him out.’
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. The late Hunter S Thompson would have been here working on a sequel to his famous book.
So which of them will deliver on his threats?
Both have relatively new trainers — SugarHill Steward with Fury, Malik Scott for Wilder — who have been beavering away at developing seemingly hidden assets in their skill sets.
Steward says Fury can go on to surpass Muhammad Ali. Scott insists Wilder will reveal a surprising range of boxing abilities now he knows that against Fury he cannot rely solely on connecting with one of his freakish concussive right-handers.
Fury’s game plan is not expected to change too much with trainer SugarHill Steward
Fury has no reason to make dramatic changes to the barnstorming fight plan for their second fight, in which he sent Wilder crashing to the only defeat of his career inside seven rounds.
The Bronze Bomber has to come up with something new. Since he stands two inches the shorter and will be outweighed in stones, he appears leaner and lighter. One maxim of this hard, old game says speed kills but Fury attests as to how quickly Wilder was able to close the distance between them in the preceding battles.
It is not only Fury’s size which is a problem for Wilder. It is also the undefeated champion’s astonishing athleticism for a human being so large that he describes himself as a behemoth.
With UK fans banned from entering America, the Vegas Strip and its bars have been much quieter than usual for a fight week involving an Englishman.
Still, Fury is expected to have the support of a roaring majority in the Arena, including many members of the US traveller community. Although exactly how many of the 20,000 seats will be occupied is uncertain.
With exciting challenges on the horizon, Fury can ill-afford to make an error this weekend
There is a niggling concern that the interruption of Fury’s training camp by the traumatic birth of a sixth child to his wife Paris — their daughter Athena was placed in intensive care — may have left him a mite short of full preparation.
But he says: ‘This is the new Gypsy King who trains and keeps fit all the time. The old Tyson Fury would have blown up to 25 stones in a lay-off this long.’
Wilder predicts: ‘I’m going to close the book on this trilogy.’ The casino bookies disagree, making Fury a 1-3 favourite, with Wilder a 5-2 underdog.
Recent history has taught us never to bet against the Gypsy King and I for one am not doing so. Although I expect he may have to box the 12-round distance to gain a points decision this time.
And no mistakes please, Tyson. Not one.