Wow ! What a fight.
Tyson ‘Gypsy King’ Fury said post fight “It was worthy of any trilogy in the history of the sport”. He was not mistaken.
His three fight series with America’s ‘Bronze Bomber’ Deontay Wilder was punctuated and finalised Saturday night in Las Vegas T- Mobile Arena with a contest so riveting and explosive that the tombstone of Ron Lyle must have been rattling with excitement ! We witnessed a contest reminiscent of the epic up-down 1976 slugfest the late great Lyle shared with big George Foreman.
The trilogy of fights between Fury and Wilder had more controversy, concussive ebb and flow, and ‘bouncebackability’ than your average Rocky flick. The first fight in 2019 was a captivating draw, the rematch a Fury showcase and, Saturday night a barnstorming blitzkrieg. Five knockdowns were registered with both fighters floored before the WBC world heavyweight champion Fury prevailed largely by attrition, knocking out his brave challenger after 1:10 of the eleventh round.
Four trilogies stand out in heavyweight history, all listed in the Friday Faceup, with the most recent being Holyfield v Bowe in the 1990’s. But in the early hours of Sunday morning (UK time) you could add Fury v Wilder to that roll call. Their three fights over the space of just under three COVID interrupted years had all the ingredients of the four trilogies preceding it in the drama that unfolded.
Saturday’s fight before a 15,820 under capacity but captivated Las Vegas crowd was the best of the bunch. The champion Fury had reluctantly taken the third fight after Wilder’s successful legal challenge to invoke the rematch clause.
Whereas in their second fight Fury took the initiative from the opening bell, this time it was Wilder, taking the first round on all three judges cards focusing on jabs repeatedly to the Englishman’s stomach. It was clear Fury was adopting a more measured approach but after the champion narrowly took the second round all hell broke loose.
The remaining eight completed rounds became a toe-to-toe slugfest with Fury dropping the challenger in round 3 with a strong right-left combination and seemingly taking an early control of the fight. Wilder dragged himself up and it then amazingly swung 360 degrees in the next stanza with challenger dropping Fury heavily twice in the last half minute of the fourth. Seemingly on the cusp of a crushing and humiliating defeat Fury hauled himself up from the second knockdown right on the bell to dominate the remaining rounds as the American started to fade badly mid-fight.
Wilder though, like an ageing western gunslinger still had a few bullets left in his revolver, desperately trying to land booming single overhand rights on the Englishman’s cranium as Fury advanced forward. The champion continued to play Russian roulette as he forced the pace to stop his opponent. Wilder with blood pouring out his mouth was on unsteady legs seemingly ready to go at the end of each exchange. Through rounds five to ten the Gypsy King was dominating on the inside, landing hurtful shots to Wilder’s torso.
The challenger showed bravery beyond the call of duty as his corner led by ex-heavyweight Malik Scott sent him out round after round. Clearly hurt and with the tank running close to empty Wilder still looked dangerous with single shots but was dropped heavily in the tenth by a big right hand to the ear. Wilder rose and finished the round well. By now though Fury was relentless, and sniffing blood, finished his opponent in the eleventh with a booming combination punctuated by a heavy right hand.
The Gypsy King successfully defended a world title for the first time having been champion in 2015 after his spectacular victory against Wladimir Klitschko and being stripped due to inactivity as a result of his well documented mental problems. The King was already on the thrown having regained the title in February 2020 following the Wilder rematch, but this sealed the deal. As the recognised ‘lineal champion’ – the man who beat the man, who beat the man.. Fury is now accepted as the true heavyweight champion of the world.
A meeting with WBA, IBF and WBO world sanctioning champion Oleksandr Usyk is likely to be next on the agenda but make no mistake despite the threat that could pose Tyson ‘Gypsy King’ Fury sealed his legacy in the Nevada night and now jockies for position in the annals of heavyweight greatness. His record was extended to 31-0-1 (22 KO’s) whilst Wilder dropped to 42-2-1 (40 KO’s).
Fury was ahead on all three cards at the time of the stoppage :- 95-91, 94-92 and 95-92. The Undisputed saw it wider at 96-90.
A Usyk fight is a mouthwatering proposition should the Ukrainian overcome Anthony Joshua in a rematch of their contest two weeks ago. Britain’s Dillian Whyte also waits in the wings as the WBC mandatory contender.
Saturday though was Fury’s night and as he explained post-fight “Like the great John Wayne said – I’m made of pig iron steel baby !” Fury gave a performance to make ‘The Duke’ proud and who can argue with him after this standout and emphatic victory.