Droves of people flocked to the lobby inside the MGM Grand on Tuesday and waited patiently for undefeated boxers Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder to arrive.
They gathered inside. They waited outside. And they cheered with vigor as the two heavyweights paraded their way down the makeshift walkway and onto the stage, basking in the applause and the glory of Las Vegas.
“Who’s ready for a (expletive) war?” asked Fury, prompting another chorus of cheers.
Yes, the heavyweight division is alive and well.
Wilder (42-0-1, 41 knockouts) and Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) christened fight week in Las Vegas with their grand arrivals. They will fight Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden in a rematch of their controversial split draw in Los Angeles in December 2018.
“This is the biggest fight in the last 50 years in the heavyweight division,” Fury said. “Both men are going to put it on the line, and the fans are the only winners here. We both have a lot to lose.”
Such as their undefeated records and standing in heavyweight history.
Wilder, 34, won the WBC championship from Bermane Stiverne in Las Vegas in January 2015 and is seeking his 11th successful title defense after knocking out Luis Ortiz in November. His 10 defenses tie Muhammad Ali for the fifth most in heavyweight history. Joe Louis has the record with 26.
Fury, 31, is the lineal champion, meaning he has beat the man who beat the man. He won the mythical title in 2015 from Wladimir Klitschko — along with the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles before taking a 31-month hiatus to battle depression.
He vacated those four titles, which now belong to Anthony Joshua, giving the heavyweight division three legitimate champions and contenders for the first time in decades.
But this weekend is about Wilder and Fury.
“We’re here. The heavyweight division is booming. It’s on fire,” Wilder said. “And they say when you have a healthy heavyweight division, everything else unfolds and becomes great. I think we’re in the right direction. We’re right where we need to be. It can only go up from here.”
Both fighters have promised knockout victories during the course of the promotion, and both doubled down on their predictions again Tuesday. Fury again said that he’s going to knock out Wilder in the second round, and Wilder promised to stop Fury in “devastating fashion.”
A rematch clause is built into the fight’s contract, all but guaranteeing what could be an epic trilogy.
“I always tell people don’t focus on the third one. We’ve got to get through the second one first,” Wilder said. “We never know what’s going to happen in the second one.”
We’ll find out Saturday.
“Nothing really compares to this,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, Fury’s co-promoter. “It’s going to be a really historic fight, not only in the heavyweight division but for all of boxing.”
Who: Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: MGM Grand Garden
TV: ESPN/Fox Pay-Per-View
Odds: Wilder -110; Fury +100 (William Hill)