Wilder vs Fury: Kiwi sparring partner Junior Fa weighs in on heavyweight blockbuster

If you're looking for some insight on Deontay Wilder's prospects in his pivotal heavyweight showdown with Tyson Fury, what better place to turn than the man who's spent the last four weeks inside a ring with him.

Rising Kiwi prospect Junior Fa is only days removed from his stint with the Wilder camp in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after being handpicked to help the 'Bronze Bomber' prepare for Sunday's (NZ time) WBC championship bout against Fury in Los Angeles.

Fa had one telling word to describe Wilder's evolution from Week One of sparring through to Week Four and the end of his pre-fight preparations.

"It was quite scary," Fa told Newshub, with a nervous laugh.

"On the first week, you can see him working things out and then he got more serious as the camp progressed. I definitely saw the intensity rark up in the last two weeks.

"Then on the last week, you can really see him switch on. The focus in his eyes was very, very different.

"By the end of the third week, you could see Deontay was definitely finished with training and he was ready to fight."

The sparring scaled back through the final seven days, when the focus shifted to replicating the awkward challenge that Fury presented.

"It was very technical, we didn't do too many rounds in sparring. It was hardly any contact - just trying out different scenarios in the fight that he might have to deal with.

"Doing all the small things Fury does - putting his hands behind his back, moving around a lot, different positions that he gets himself into on the ropes, something that Wilder can definitely capitalise on.

"We did a few drills backed up on the ropes, a few drills coming forward and just a lot of mixing it up."

Wilder and Fury will settle their differences in LA on Sunday.
Wilder and Fury will settle their differences in LA on Sunday. Photo credit: Getty

Much has been made of Wilder's otherworldly power, something to which Fa can strongly attest, having come dangerously close to feeling it first-hand.

"His punching power is crazy," said Fa, shaking his head.

"In terms of stature, he's not really a big guy. He's very tall, very lanky, not very big or muscular, but somehow packs a big, big punch.

"I definitely caught a couple on my guard and my gloves - and they were hard. They were very hard.

 "I was thinking, 'man, if that landed' - especially with 10oz gloves - that'll definitely drop anyone."

While he couldn’t reveal too much detail, Fa believed the gameplan Wilder's camp had devised for their fighter had all bases covered.

"I feel like Deontay is ready for basically whatever Fury brings. We showed him a lot of looks, we gave him a variety of punches that he might encounter.

"The main thing for Deontay is just to keep to his plan. He keeps himself very long in his fights, always at range or slightly out of range.

"That'll be one of the most important things - staying at a good range."

While Fa said Fury was "definitely" still capable of claiming an upset win, the pathway to victory for the Brit was a narrow one.

"I think the only way he wins is through points, but I just don't see it.

"It's definitely going to look awkward, both guys are long and like to fight off the back foot.

"Wilder will try to let him dictate the pace for a while and then I think - naturally - Fury will slow down. That's when I think Wilder will come forward a bit more, start to throw his right hand a bit longer.

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"By Round Seven onwards, I feel like Deontay is going to find the button - connect with a straight right hand or his long left hook, and will get Fury out of there."

The Aucklander, who's preparing for his own upcoming fight on the Parker vs Flores card next month, said he learned plenty from Wilder through his time embedded with the camp, most of it centred on the mental side of boxing.

"Just his mindset, his self confidence, and belief in his punches and his boxing ability. He helped me with little things, like my breathing and the way I should talk.

"He often says, 'speak it, believe it, achieve it'. That's something that really clicked with me.

"He carries himself in a very confident way, but not a cocky way. He's always willing to help guys out, something I feel is a great trait of his.

"And he's just a good person."

Don't expect Fury to enjoy the same pleasantries, when the opening bell rings on Sunday.


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