Mike Tyson says the mental strength shown by Tyson Fury will stand him in good stead against Deontay Wilder. Photo: Rich Fury/Invision/AP

LONDON – Former heavyweight champions Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield believe Tyson Fury can dethrone Deontay Wilder if Saturday’s WBC championship fight goes the distance.

WBC heavyweight king Wilder takes on Britain’s Fury at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday in a battle of unbeaten fighters.

The high-stakes contest could ultimately pave the way for a money-spinning unification bout against Anthony Joshua, the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion.

While several former heavyweights believe Wilder possesses the punching power to force an early victory on Saturday, Lewis and Holyfield believe the odds will tilt in Fury’s favour the longer the fight goes on.

“I think with Deontay’s power, he might be able to end it early, but if Tyson can frustrate him and it goes the distance, then it could go his way,” Holyfield said on Tuesday.

“Tyson’s always been the bigger fighter. In fighting Deontay, it’s the same case. If things get difficult, he’s (Fury’s) got more experience and a lot of tricks.”

Lewis, the former undisputed heavyweight king, echoed Holyfield’s verdict. “If it goes the distance, then it belongs to Tyson Fury,” Lewis said. “If it’s a short fight, it will belong to Deontay Wilder.”

Heavyweight legend Mike Tyson, meanwhile, believes Fury’s mental durability will carry him to the title.

Fury, 30, has made a successful return to boxing after a lengthy layoff which saw him battle depression and problems with drink and drugs.

Fury said in October he had contemplated suicide in 2016 as his life spiralled out of control.

Tyson said that Fury’s ability to rebuild his career after overcoming personal turmoil sets him apart from Wilder.

“Although Wilder’s punch is strong, nothing can compare to the mental strength Fury has shown both in and out of the ring,” Tyson said.

“It’ll be a close call, but I think Fury’s got a true fighting chance.”

But former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe is backing Wilder’s punching power to overwhelm Fury early on.

“If Wilder comes out and means business then he should beat Fury with ease,” said Bowe, the undisputed heavyweight champion in 1992.

“My prediction is Wilder by knockout!”

AFP