Tyson Fury rose from two fourth-round knockdowns to stop Deontay Wilder in the 11th round on Saturday night, retaining his WBC title in a thrilling conclusion to an impressive heavyweight trilogy.
Fury (31-0-1, 22 KO) finished Wilder for the second time in his three bouts, but only after a wild back-and-forth evening featuring five combined knockdowns.
“It was a great fight,” Fury said. “It was worthy of any trilogy in the history of the sport. He’s a top fighter, and he gave me a real[test]tonight.
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Wilder was knocked out in the third round and appeared to be on his way out, but he rallied improbably to defeat Fury twice in the final minutes of the fourth.
Wilder (42-2-1) absorbed a heavy penalty and appeared physically fatigued for most of the bout, but the veteran champion showed his toughness, throwing power shots at tired legs.
Fury shook Wilder again in the middle of the 10th with his right hand, but Wilder surprised Fury in the final second of the round.
Fury eventually ended it in the 11th, sending Wilder face-first onto the canvas with a slashed right hand fired high into the air. Fury climbed the ropes in front of a frenzied crowd of 15,820 at the T-Mobile Arena at the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip.
“Never doubt me when the chips are down,” said Fury. “I can always deliver.”
“I know you had your heart in your mouth, but never doubt me when the chips are down!”
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Fury then broke into a rendition of “Walking in Memphis”, in keeping with his post-fight tradition of calming the crowd.
The fight is likely one of the most memorable rivalries in recent boxing history, a trilogy consisting of nine combined knockdowns and two notable displays of pugilistic tenacity. A trilogy is rare in a fragmented modern game, but Fury and Wilder brought out the best in each other through a series spanning nearly three calendar years.
They first met in late 2018 in downtown Los Angeles, where Wilder twice defeated Fury in the final round of an excellent fight. A second knockdown in the 12th round left Fury flat on his back and motionless while Wilder celebrated, but Fury improperly picked up and reached the bell in a bout to decide a split draw.
The second bout was in Las Vegas in February 2020 and Fury’s dominance was clear. The British champion defeated Wilder until the seventh round, when Wilder’s corner threw in the towel in a one-sided victory and Fury claimed Wilder’s WBC title belt.
In this climax third meeting, Wilder started the first round with a strong jab and a good game plan, but he quickly became exhausted when he didn’t hurt Fury early on.
In the final minute of the third, Fury stunned Wilder with a shot and then escaped from a clincher for a two-punch combination that put Wilder on his knees. Fury beat Wilder to his feet again with the crowd, but Wilder rang it as the bell.
Fury was under control by the end of the fourth, when Wilder landed a powerful right hand on the top of Fury’s head. Fury faltered and eventually fell to the canvas, only to be raised and then put down again a few moments later amid the stunned roar of the crowd.
Fury rang the bell of the fourth round, and both fighters landed impossibly big shots in the fifth and sixth without a knockdown. In the seventh, Fury injured Wilder with a series of punches that propelled Wilder back against the ropes.
Fury re-injured a clearly exhausted Wilder with two huge shots in the eighth, and the ringside doctor examined Wilder before allowing the fight to continue in the ninth.
Fury’s devastating right hand popped Wilder’s legs out from under him in the 10th, but Wilder ended the round, even as Fury was hurt late.
It ended with another right hand from close range. Wilder reached for the ropes on his way down, but came down with his eyes glazed over the mirror.
The bout was another defeat for Wilder, but a recognition of the former US Olympian’s impressive ferocity, as well as his determination to have a third fight, despite the one-sided nature of his second meet.
Last year, Wilder handled his first defeat since the 2008 Beijing Olympics in a bizarre fashion. He fired his longtime trainer Mark Breland, who threw in the towel, and then accused him of spiking his water bottle with a muscle relaxer. Wilder also claimed that Fury had illegal gloves, amid a litany of far-right claims that left Fury – himself no stranger to ridiculous behavior – to ridicule Wilder for his lack of professionalism. .
“I beat him three times,” Fury said after the finale. “I tried to show him respect, and he wouldn’t give it back.”
But Wilder also used a rematch clause in his contract to retrieve his belt, and an arbitrator ruled in his favor when Fury attempted to book a showdown with fellow British heavyweight Anthony Joshua. Fury agreed to complete the trilogy by resigning, but made it clear that he hoped to stop Wilder again.
It happened, but only after more drama than Fury could have imagined.