Tyson Fury produced the most destructive performance of his boxing life to end Deontay Wilder’s five-year reign as WBC heavyweight world champion in seven thrilling rounds of their Las Vegas rematch.
The Briton, 31, pummelled his rival in a way few could have imagined following their 2018 draw, flooring him in the third and fifth rounds while constantly backing up the most-feared puncher in the division in a way no-one has done before.
A jab and right hand – the combination with which Wilder has wiped men out repeatedly – sent the American down in the third, stunning the MGM Grand Arena.
Wilder, making his 11th defence, fell again before the round was out – this time a slip – and looked ragged under the pressure, before a right and left hand to the body sent the 34-year-old down in the fifth.
Fury delivered everything he had promised, transitioning from his hit-and-move style to overpower, outwork and bully his previously undefeated rival until the towel came in during the seventh round.
This was more than a world title win, it was a statement – and as Fury was held aloft by his corner after victory was sealed, the days of depression, weight gain and despair that cost him the belts he claimed in 2015 seemed a lifetime away.
Britons treated to a masterclass
Thousands of British fans who had descended on Vegas saw their hero take an age to arrive at the ring on a throne, sporting a golden crown. It was the only time Fury moved slowly all night.
He hit pads in the ring as Wilder made his ring walk – just as he did 15 months earlier in Los Angeles – and his start was rapid, a flurry of hooks prompting chants of “there’s only one Tyson Fury” from the crowd.
Actors Michael J Fox and Jason Statham, as well as Super Bowl winner Patrick Mahomes, watched as Fury raised his hand at the end of the opening three-minute round and things began to feel markedly different to their first meeting.
He simply did not take a backward step, forcing Wilder to the ropes and ensuring the champion had no say in the pace of proceedings. And in the third round, those who had paid the kind of ticket prices that made this the highest gate ever in Nevada, rose to their feet at the sight of Wilder floored for only the second time in his career.
A right hand behind Wilder’s ear – the same shot with which the American had floored Fury nine rounds into their first fight – did the damage. Wilder then fell again as Fury bulldozed him. At the bell, the pair glared at one another and Wilder knew he was in a place no fighter wants to be. The Britons sitting ringside did not want to be anywhere else.
Was the weight Fury had gained making the difference? Was it the new training set-up? Whatever it was worked to perfection. He was putting on a boxing clinic and a right-left combination to the body dropped the stunned Wilder once more in the fifth.
Fury was docked a point for punching on the break but he did not seem to care or blink at the punishment, instead continuing to feint and twitch to set shots up before unloading on a man who had started a slight favourite. He led 59-52 59-52 and 58-53 on the cards when the towel came in.
Fight week had seen repeated debate over where this meeting ranked in the pecking order of the greatest nights of heavyweight action, but little consensus. What we can say with certainty is that this was a masterclass.
‘This was written in the stars’ – Fury on beating Wilder
Wilder, under-appreciated through half a decade as a champion, knew this was the night he could fully silence doubters. Some 43 fights into an undefeated career his ability was still questioned by many, and scorned by some.
Wilder’s fabled right hand never showed up. It was telegraphed time and again and the Alabama fighter – who was cut close to his left ear – quickly left the arena to go to hospital for stitches on the damage.
Coming in at the highest weight of his career may be offered up as an explanation for his shortcomings, but the gulf between the fighters was huge.
In the years since Wilder first won the title, Fury has claimed three world belts, lost them without fighting amid problems with drugs, alcohol and depression, and gained the kind of weight that meant many assumed his boxing career was over.
Now he is back at the top, with a back-story that has helped shape cult-hero status in the UK and now a burgeoning profile in the US.
He may flippantly say this title means little to him. He may continue to threaten to walk away from boxing. We can be certain he will lead us all a merry dance until the day it is all over. But when it is, this win will be remembered.
There will be talk of a third Wilder fight and talk of a historic all-British meeting with Anthony Joshua.
But the next moves can wait for now as here, on a Vegas Strip where dreams are so often dashed, Fury completed his journey from personal despair to sporting glory.
What a ride it has been. Hopefully he is now better placed than the first time around to live with one of sport’s sweetest of introductions – heavyweight champion of the world.
‘Not bad for someone with pillow fists’ – what they said
Tyson Fury speaking to BT Sport Box Office: “I told everybody with a pair of ears that the Gypsy King would return to the throne. My last fight everybody wrote me off. I was underweight and over-trained. I’m a destroyer. Not bad for someone with pillow fists.
“I’m a man of my word. I told Wilder, his team, the world. We trained for a knockout; we wasn’t tapping around in that gym.
“I talk like this because I can back it up. People write me off, they look at my fat belly and bald head and think I can’t fight. He fought the best Tyson Fury, we’re both in our primes.
“I expect him to ask for the third fight. I know he’s a warrior and I’ll be waiting.”
Promoter Frank Warren, speaking to the 5 Live Boxing podcast: “I have been doing this a long time and that was the best performance I have seen from a British boxer in the ring.
“I always believed Tyson would stop him and it is the best moment for me, selfishly, but it is also for him and his family.
“It is the best comeback in sport, not boxing. He was in the depths of despair and to pull himself back from that is the most amazing thing. It is special.”
Deontay Wilder: “The best man won on the night. My coach threw in the towel but I’m ready to go out on my shield.
“I had a lot of things going on coming into this fight but it is what it is.
“I just wish my corner would have let me go out on my shield, I’m a warrior. But [Fury] did what he did and there’s no excuses.”
Former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis: “Congratulations to Tyson Fury on a huge win and bossing his way to the WBC and Ring heavyweight straps. Once again you showed up big.
“The best fighters solve puzzles. Tonight Fury solved the puzzle that was Wilder by making him fight going backwards where he’s not as explosive. Big-manned him.”
My Heavy Ring Walk Costume Caused My Defeat
Deontay Wilder blames huge ring walk costume for defeat by Tyson Fury
Deontay Wilder says 40-pound costume left his legs dead in a seventh-round TKO loss to Tyson Fury
LAS VEGAS — Deontay Wilder wanted to make his ring walk prior to his fight with Tyson Fury on Saturday special and wore a 40-pound costume as a tribute to Black History Month. But Wilder said the costume was too heavy and was the reason that he didn’t have his legs under him in his seventh-round TKO loss to Fury.
He said he will go to Africa at the end of March on vacation and plans to exercise his rematch clause for a third fight with Fury. He said he’ll get back to boxing once he returns from Africa.
Wilder also said he is upset with assistant trainer Mark Breland for throwing in the towel to stop the fight and suggested that Breland will no longer be part of the team on fight night. He said he was displeased with the work of referee Kenny Bayless, who took a point from Fury in the fifth round, and went out of his way to congratulate Fury on his performance.
Wilder was knocked down in the third round of the heavyweight title fight by a straight right hand and then again in the fifth with a left hook to the body. His balance seemed off for much of the fight, and he slipped several times and went down two times in addition to the official knockdowns.
He said he wasn’t hurt by the punches and wanted the chance to continue. As Yahoo Sports reported on Sunday, he did not suffer a concussion, a broken ear drum or a broken jaw. The only physical injury he had was a two-centimeter cut that was closed with seven stitches.
Anthony Joshua wants to defend his heavyweight titles in Nigeria
British born Nigerian world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has made known his desire to defend his titles in his Nigeria after his rematch victory against Andy Ruiz in Saudi Arabia.
Since defeating Andy Ruiz, there have been offers for Anthony Joshua to stage future fights in several locations around the world. Africa is among those to have shown interest and the 30-year-old would prefer his native Nigeria to connect with his roots.
A fight in Nigeria, Anthony Joshua’s parent country would be the first outside South Africa since Muhammad Ali and George Foreman participated in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Zaire.
“People were telling me I should go back [to Nigeria] for ages,” Joshua told reporters. “It was crazy because they don’t have 24-hour electricity but they still know me and support me.”
AJ told Pulse FM earlier in the year that he is “massively into Nigerian culture” which showed as he opted for the song ‘Water Get No Enemy’ by Nigerian legend Fela Kuti during his ring-walk on Saturday.
Anthony’s comments should be taken with a pinch of salt, however. About 24hrs after his victory in Saudi Arabia, he was singing the praise of London and its fanbase, with Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium mooted as a potential destination.
London is likely to be next for a match, but Joshua has a firm ambition to defend his titles in Nigeria.
“I went to the ghettos of the ghettos where it’s not all about egos and beef, it’s about people who are hungry to survive,” he reflected on his visit across the Mediterranean. “It was one of the best things I’ve done. Africa’s rooting for me for sure, so I would definitely love to fight out there.”
Joshua has two upcoming boxing commitments for 2020 – an International Boxing Federation (IBF) clash against Kubrat Pulev and a later World Boxing Organisation (WBO) fight which is likely to be against Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua will need to defend his status from the Bulgarian and Ukrainian heavyweights, after working hard to snatch his titles back from the Mexican underdog Ruiz.
Joshua will need to defend his status from the Bulgarian and Ukrainian heavyweights
“The plan is to maintain the belts, so we will have to have conversations this week with the IBF and the WBO to see who goes first,” AJ’s promoter Eddie Hearn told The Telegraph.
“It’s our understanding that the IBF mandatory comes first, which is Pulev, so realistically it is Pulev and then Usyk in that order, with Dereck Chisora fighting Usyk in February or March and then AJ fighting the winner.”
Joshua added: “I can’t get too caught up in the moment and have to stay focused on the task at hand, which is not staying undefeated any more, but staying champion for as long as possible.”
Andy Ruiz’s weight makes no difference – Anthony Joshua
With his body again looking as if it could have been sculpted by Phidias, Anthony Joshua weighed in at his lightest since 2014 for Saturday night’s WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight title rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr. But while a slimline Joshua tipped the scales at 16st 13lb, 10lbs less than he was for the pair’s first meeting in June, Ruiz came in at a gargantuan 20st 3lb – 15lb more than six months ago when he shocked the world at Madison Square Garden.
Russian Nikolai Valuev is the only boxer to have weighed more for a world heavyweight title fight – though he was seven-feet tall. Anthony Joshua strolled to the scales looking relaxed with headphones on and chewing gum, he said he is not taking anything for granted despite his opponent looking out of shape.
“I feel good,” he said. “The weigh-in is important but for heavyweights, it doesn’t really matter. It’s about the skills that pay the bills and that leads to victory, it’s not so much about the weight.”
When asked whether his opponent was too heavy, Joshua shook his head. “Not really, he’s a big lad. They should make a super-heavyweight division because there is that much of a vast difference. The art of the game is to hit and not get hit, avoid them punches. Imagine how being three stone heavier and everyone saying how fast he is, I’ll definitely be beating him to the punch.”
Anthony Joshua 30, will be paid about 60 million pounds for the controversial rematch in Saudi Arabia while his opponent will be paid 13 million pounds. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn insisted money was secondary to reclaiming his belts.
“I don’t know if he has wanted it so bad before,” said Hearn. “When he lost he wasn’t in a great place for weeks after. But he’s really got his head screwed on. It’s ‘I’ve got to win this fight’ not just ‘It’s a lot of money and I’ve got to take it’.”
Hearn also warned it would be wrong to assume Joshua had lost weight to keep the fight at a distance. “He feels amazing, he is punching faster and sharper than he has ever done before,” he said. “There is no intention to box for 12 rounds. He will box Ruiz and be smart, but he also wants to punish him and hurt him when he gets the opportunity to do so. You are going to see a vicious performance.”
The promoter again defended the decision to take the fight to Saudi Arabia, despite growing criticism from human rights organizations including Amnesty International. “It has just been the most amazing experience I have ever been involved with,” Hearn told the Guardian. “People say, what does Saudi know about boxing? They have TVs. They have the internet. They watch the sport. And they are very tech-savvy and young.”
Culled from TheGuardian