The first fight was a resurrection. The second was a demolition. Tonight, Tyson Fury’s 11th-round TKO over Deontay Wilder was a confirmation, and a redemption. For Fury, it was confirmation of his status as the world’s premier heavyweight, the deserving WBC/The Ring/Lineal kingpin. For Deontay Wilder, a redemption. After blaming everything from glove conspiracies to weighty ring entrance outfits for losing the second fight, Wilder fought with the heart and determination of a warrior.
‘The Bronze Bomber’ looked to establish his jab at the bell, avoiding the mistake he made in their previous match, when Fury backed Wilder up all night long. The American fired in solid jabs to the body, and looked to follow them up with hooks. Fury was sizing up his man in the opener, and only sprung into life when the ten-second clapper went, landing a big right.
‘The Gypsy King’ took the initiative in the second stanza. Wilder attempted to go to the body but Fury answered with his own jabs and hooks to the challenger’s midriff. Deontay went looking for big rights, and landed one, but the champion quickly responded with a precise one-two.
The third round saw Wilder abandoning his short-lived gameplan, throwing his career-highest 238-pounds into every shot. This came back to bite the Alabama man, as Fury blocked everything his opponent threw and then walloped him with a huge right hook along the ropes. The shot sent Wilder to the canvas, and it looked like we might be seeing an even more dominant Fury win than the second bout. Wilder rose and laughed off the shot, but a Fury onslaught had him holding on at the bell
There was an atmosphere of nervous excitement in the T-Mobile Arena, as the sense of an impending conclusion hung heavily over the star-studded crowd. Every Fury flurry was met with huge cheers. As ‘The Gypsy King’ rained straight rights into Wilder’s reddening face, you sensed the end was near. But Wilder hits harder than any boxer lacing the gloves today, and he spectacularly found a way back in. A massive straight right sent the heavyweight king to the canvas, in danger of losing his crown. Boxing’s Lazarus rose, but a stalking Wilder had him down again with another punishing straight right. Fury recovered, but ended the round under heavy fire from the quintessential puncher.
Wilder came flying out of the blocks in the fifth, trying to end matters. The American fans were chanting Wilder’s name now, perhaps a symptom of COVID restrictions keeping the travelling British contingent to a bare minimum. The knockout artist looked tired as Fury would not concede, and the champion came back into matters with intelligent boxing behind the jab to snatch the round.
Fury strengthened his control over the sixth and seventh. His movement was clever, evading Wilder’s loaded shots with a whip of the head, or a well-timed block. The Olympic bronze medalist had his moments, but his right hooks were more clubbing than concussive during the middle rounds.
Round eight saw this most spectacular of nights take a bleak turn for Wilder. He began to eat an abundance of shots along the ropes, with his own work barely fazing Tyson. The WBC boss found success with jab-straight right combinations, and seemed to be punching the resistance out of his foe. The ringside doctor inspected Wilder before the ninth, but allowed the bloodied but unbowed brawler to continue.
The referee was the next person to take a close look at Wilder, as he swallowed punch after punch along the ropes. Fury was dictating the pace now, choosing when to engage and where he would place Wilder in the ring to do so. After his earlier travails, we saw the Fury that troubles multiple pound-for-pound lists.
There is no acceptable explanation that can be offered as to why the tenth round was not the last one we saw in this modern classic. Wilder looked dishevelled every time Fury touched him, and he appeared to have been put out of his misery when the champion levelled him with a booming right hook that could be heard in the nosebleed seats. Echoing his rival’s resurrection in the first fight, somehow Wilder rose from the mat once again. In scarcely credible scenes, Deontay then began uncorking massive shots of his own on Fury as the bell tolled. Ever the antagonist, Fury beckoned Wilder to keep hitting him before sticking his bald head in the challenger’s face.
This incredible round proved to be the last stand for the brave Wilder. He began the 11th by eating a solid uppercut and a clean right with his back to the ropes. A combination of hard shots opened him up to a gargantuan right hook that sent him headfirst into the canvas, and caused the referee to immediately wave off this most magical of heavyweight title collisions.
Fury would not be drawn on his next move after the fight, preferring to sing a modified ditty called ‘Walking In Vegas’. Wilder immediately left the ringside area, which is a shame. After being mocked for his laundry list of excuses after the second fight, he deserved an opportunity to stay and soak up the plaudits tonight. ‘The Bronze Bomber’ went out on his shield, and deserves immense credit for his part in this incredible heavyweight championship fight. A lot of people wondered why we needed the third fight of this trilogy, such was Fury’s domination last time out. The mesmerising action we saw tonight completely justifies the match-up, and Wilder’s status as the best of the rest in this stacked division.