If Tyson Fury's rematch with Deontay Wilder was taking place 10 months earlier, the majority of pre-fight predictions would swing in the Gypsy King's favour.
Having only returned from 31 months of troubled inactivity in glorified sparring sessions with Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta over the summer, Fury agreed to a daunting date of destiny with one of boxing's all-time hardest hitters in December 2018 and many foreboded a painful evening for him.
What followed, however, was a masterful performance by the Brit, who boxed rings around his fearsome foe before climbing off the canvas twice in the last four rounds to hear the final bell.
The general consensus was that Fury had done more than enough to inflict Wilder's first career defeat. Yet boxing is a sport which seldom operates on logic and the judges instead deemed the contest a split-decision draw.
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Alejandro Rochin, who inexplicably scored the fight 115-111 in Wilder's favour, deserved a grilling from Line of Duty's AC12 boss Ted Hastings over his decision to award the American each of the first four rounds.
Pound-for-pound legend Floyd Mayweather, well positioned at ringside, told broadcasters after five rounds that he had Fury winning every single one.
He may have been denied a second world-title triumph by the judges, but Fury certainly emerged victorious in the eyes of fans and pundits alike and it meant he became the instant favourite in any potential rematch.
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Yet fast forward almost 15 months and the narrative accompanying a second showdown is no longer so straightforward.
Although it seemed inconceivable at the time, an immediate rematch clause was not triggered by Fury, who instead put pen to paper on a lucrative ESPN deal that would see him face unknown duo Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin in his next two fights.
A meeting with the latter did not run as smoothly as anticipated, with a gruesome cut above his right eye forcing him to dig deep and pull out a hard-fought, testing points victory.
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And while Fury was going hell for leather with the Swede, Wilder was doing what he simply does best – knocking people out in destructive fashion.
First went Dominic Breazeale, who was counting sheep on the canvas after spending just over two minutes in the ring with him.
Then came a trickier test in a rematch with Luis Ortiz, the much-avoided Cuban responsible for his biggest scare as a professional, but he too was wiped out when the Bronze Bomber seemingly clicked his fingers and decided to land that crushing right hand in the seventh round.
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The widespread assumption is that Wilder's record should be stained by a solitary defeat at the hands of Fury. Though in the time since their contentious first encounter, the WBC heavyweight chief has unquestionably looked in better form against more capable opposition.
There is also an underlying fear that when they meet again in Las Vegas tonight, the deep cut Fury sustained against Wallin could reopen.
The outspoken traveller has shaken up his coaching team in a bid to knock the champion out, so he claims. Ben Davison, the rookie who masterminded what should have been a famous win the first time around, has been replaced by SugarHill Steward – the nephew of legendary trainer Emmanuel Steward.
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In the eyes of many, these intriguing and potentially crucial sub-plots have shifted Fury back into the role of the underdog.
Wilder is expected to prevail explosively, but the ease at which Fury ducked and weaved out the way of his blistering power – for large parts of the evening – while dusting off the cobwebs must be remembered.
What should also be taken into account is the manner in which that iconic 12th round eventually played out once Fury had dragged himself off the deck.
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By the time the final bell sounded, Wilder appeared just as likely to be stopped in his tracks as Fury, who buckled the champion's knees with a swift right hand of his own as the bout drew to a close.
Wilder has not tired of insisting his rival has pillows for fists, ruling out the possibility of being dealt his maiden loss by way of knockout.
The idea of a Fury stoppage in Sin City, though, is a much more feasible outcome than Wilder retaining his title on points.
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Both men have piled on the pounds for this rematch; Fury tipped the scales at 273lbs, while Wilder came in at a career-heavy 231lbs.
But the Bronze Bomber is simply not accustomed to carrying that extra weight, last scaling up at 229lbs all the way back in 2015, meaning Fury could pull off a colossal upset by steering clear of that unparalleled equaliser and dragging him into the later rounds.
If he can enter the business end of the fight unscathed, don't bet against the Gypsy King capitalising on Wilder fatigue and forcing a stoppage to become the heavyweight champion of the world once more.
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