After three fights featuring nine combined knockdowns and a wealth of unforgettable moments, Tyson Fury finally ended his epic heavyweight rivalry with Deontay Wilder with one last valedictory punch.
Fury got up from the canvas twice in the fourth round and eventually stopped Wilder with a devastating right hand in the 11th round, retaining his WBC title Saturday night in the thrilling conclusion to a superlative boxing trilogy.
Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) finished Wilder for the second straight time in their three bouts, but only after a back-and-forth event featuring five combined knockdowns and several apparent moments of imminent defeat for both men. Wilder ultimately ended up facedown on the canvas at 1: 10 of the 11th round after a chopping right hook fired from high in the air by the 6-foot-9 Fury.
” It was a great battle,” Fury said, the sport’s former champion at lineal heavyweight and a former world champion. It was worthy of any trilogy in the history the sport has ever seen. “He’s an elite fighter and gave me (test) tonight. “
Wilder (42-2-1) was knocked down in the third round and appeared to be on his way out, but he improbably rallied to knock down Fury twice in the final minutes of the fourth. Although the British champion was shaken by his defeat, he continued fighting.
“He caught me twice in the fourth round, but I was never thinking, ‘Oh, this is over,'” Fury said. He shook me and put me to sleep, but that’s just boxing. That’s also life. You don’t have to be knocked down as many times as you want. It doesn’t matter how many times you are knocked down. You have to continue fighting and moving on. “
Fury knocked down Wilder again with a concussive right hand midway through the 10th, but Wilder recovered and even stunned Fury in the final seconds of the round.
Fury persevered — and after the referee jumped in to wave it off in the 11th, Fury climbed onto the ropes in weary celebration before a frenzied crowd of 15,820 at T-Mobile Arena on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip.
Fury then broke into a rendition of “Walking in Memphis,” in keeping with his post-fight tradition of serenading his crowds.
“I haven’t seen the actual knockout tonight, but I felt it,” Fury said. Fury said, “I struck him with a strong, crushing right hook to his temple. Shots like this end careers. We’ll watch what he does in the future. He certainly took some punishment. “
Wilder absorbed enormous punishment and appeared to be physically drained for much of the bout, but the veteran American champ showed his toughness while still throwing power shots on weary legs. Fury landed 150 total punches to Wilder’s 72, with Fury connecting 52 times in the final three rounds alone.
The fight likely concluded one of the most memorable rivalries in recent boxing history — a trilogy defined by two remarkable displays of pugilistic tenacity. Fury stated that the rivalry was over and done with. “
Any three-fight series is a rarity in the fractured modern sport, but Fury and Wilder brought out the best in each other through a rivalry spanning nearly three calendar years.
They met first in late 2018 in downtown Los Angeles, where Wilder knocked down Fury twice in the late rounds of an excellent fight otherwise controlled by Fury. The second knockdown in the 12th round left Fury flat on his back and motionless while Wilder celebrated, but Fury improbably rose and reached the bell in a bout judged a split draw.
The second fight was in Las Vegas in February 2020, and Fury’s dominance was much clearer. Wilder was beaten by the British champion until round seven, at which point Wilder’s side gave up and Fury won Wilder his WBC title.
In this climactic third meeting, Wilder was somehow even tougher — and he repeatedly came close to beating Fury, a superior technician.
Wilder opened the first round with a strong jab and a good game plan, but appeared to tire early when he didn’t hurt Fury early. Fury shocked Wilder in the last minute with a shot, then managed to escape a clinch and land a two punch combination which brought Wilder to his knees. Wilder survived the third round, although Fury continued to batter Wilder with the crowd at his feet.
Fury appeared to be in control until late in the fourth, when Wilder landed a powerful right hand squarely to the top of Fury’s head. Fury fell on the floor, staggered until he was finally able to stand up. The crowd’s stunned cheers were heard as Fury got back up only moments later.
Fury survived the round, and both fighters landed damaging shots without a knockdown in the fifth and sixth. In the seventh round, Fury hit Wilder with a string of punches which sent Wilder crashing against the ropes.
Fury hurt a visibly exhausted Wilder again in the eighth with two huge shots, and the ringside doctor examined Wilder before allowing the fight to continue into the ninth.
Another damaging right hand from Fury swept Wilder’s legs out from under him in the 10th, but Wilder finished the round, even hurting Fury late.
It ended with one additional right hand at close range. Wilder tried to grab the ropes but fell facefirst with his eyes glazed.
The bout was another loss for Wilder, but a validation of the former U.S. Olympian’s impressive toughness, as well as his determination to get this third fight even after the one-sided nature of their second meeting.
Wilder exercised the rematch clause in his contract to reclaim his belt, and an arbitrator ruled in his favor after Fury attempted to book a showdown with fellow British heavyweight Anthony Joshua. Fury agreed to finish the trilogy but stated that he would not stop Wilder.
It happened, but only after much more drama than even Fury could have imagined.
“I beat him three times,” Fury said after the finale. Fury said, “I am a sportsman and wanted to show him love and respect. But he refused to do that.” He doesn’t want to give it back. “
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