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When you’re at your most desperate, you’re probably at your most dangerous. At least that’s kind of how Tyson Fury sees it. 

The WBC and lineal heavyweight champion of the world, like most boxing observers and fans, realizes this could be the last big fight for Deontay Wilder. The Bronze Bomber, the former heavyweight champion of the world who lost the title to Fury in frightening fashion two Februarys ago, can’t suffer a second straight defeat to the Gypsy King. Not if Wilder, 35, wants to avenge his only professional defeat, win back his belt, continue making the really big bucks, and remain relevant in boxing’s most glamourous division. So Fury’s ready for a rejuvenated and forever dangerous Wilder, boxing’s premier power puncher, even though Fury says nothing’s going to change when they meet for the third, and almost assuredly, final time. 

“Just remember that I plan to smash Deontay Wilder to bits…and I will,” Fury told members of the media last week. 

Despite boxing’s putrid politics doing its best to prevent this fight from happening, Fury-Wilder III has mercifully arrived three months after it was originally scheduled. We’ll spare you all the reasons why the trilogy almost didn’t happen in the first place and remind you that Fury catching Covid caused the postponement from July to October. But with all the drama behind us, let’s just count our blessings that one of the biggest fights of 2021 has finally arrived and we’re about to be treated to a highly consequential and extremely rare (at least these days) heavyweight trilogy. 

Know that neither fighter has fought since their rematch when Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) out-boxed and bullied Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) until it was stopped in the seventh round. Wilder enters this one working under a new trainer, Malik Scott, after famously making all kinds of outlandish excuses for the embarrassing defeat. Fury can’t stop laughing at how outrageous they still sound 20 months later or brag about breaking Wilder “mentally, physically, and emotionally” in their first fight that ended in a controversial draw.  

“I hope he brings a better fight because last time was disappointing really, to say the least,” Fury said. “I trained for an absolute war and it was a one-sided beatdown.”

Having, by his own admission, trained harder than ever with a plan to enter the ring heavier than ever—he tipped the scale at 273 pounds in the rematch—the 33-year-old Fury, one of our top 10 pound-for-pound best boxers in the world, says he’s at his professional peak. There’s nothing else he can do to prepare for Saturday’s showdown (9 p.m. ET, ESPN+ PPV/FOX Sports PPV). And if you survey those close to the Gypsy King, there’s nothing Wilder, or anyone else in the heavyweight division, can do to knock him off his throne. 

“There is no heavyweight in the world that can beat Tyson Fury, period, end of story,” Bob Arum, the legendary Top Rank chairman and Fury’s promoter, told reporters last week. “No heavyweight in the world, now and in the near future.”

We caught up with Fury—sporting a white vest with crowns all over it, a backward trucker hat, and an icy Jesus piece—via Zoom five nights before the fight goes down in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena. Forever a character in a sport famous for them, Fury was quick with the jokes about Wilder’s excuses and proclamations that he’ll destroy the Bronze Bomber before he explained his affinity for the Notorious BIG during our exclusive conversation.    

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)